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The Shops at Wiregrass embrace holidays, inside and out

The Wesley Chapel shopping plaza has become a town center in the growing Pasco area.
The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel is beautifully decorated for the holidays.
The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel is beautifully decorated for the holidays. [ Shops at Wiregrass ]
Published Dec. 3, 2022

On her days off, Kathy Van Eerden likes to walk the mile from her apartment to The Shops at Wiregrass. There she enjoys the holiday decorations, the weekend markets, the car shows and other events. And, of course, all the shops and restaurants. “This is probably Wesley Chapel’s primary location,” she said as she strolled the main street. “It’s kind of coming to be the downtown.”

The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel is decked out for the holidays.
The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel is decked out for the holidays. [ The Shops at Wiregrass ]

Although it remains an unincorporated part of Pasco County, once rural Wesley Chapel is now one of the fastest growing areas in the entire Tampa Bay region. The Shops at Wiregrass, opened in 2008, has emerged as a town center for the thousands who have moved here in the past 10 years.

One bright Sunday morning I took the interstate from Tampa to Wesley Chapel, a drive of about 30 minutes. Most of the stores didn’t open until noon, so I had brunch outside at The Living Room, The Shops’ newest restaurant. (There is also one in Dunedin.) As I enjoyed a mimosa and French Toast Suzette, the tables were quickly filling with family groups and young couples. One couple was celebrating their engagement with a group of friends; all looked slightly hung over from a party the night before but happy to be together again in a pleasant setting.

The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel are beautifully decorated for the  holidays.
The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel are beautifully decorated for the holidays. [ The Shops at Wiregrass ]

Other full-service restaurants include Noble Crust, the Pasco outpost of the popular St. Petersburg restaurant; Cantino Laredo; Pinchers Crab Shack; and Grillsmith New American Grill. In all, there are about 30 places to get something to eat.

Kids enjoy the train that travels along the main street of The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel.
Kids enjoy the train that travels along the main street of The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel. [ The Shops at Wiregrass ]

The Shops at Wiregrass is anchored by Macy’s, Dillard’s and JCPenney; they and most of the other stores line what could be the real Main Street if this were a real town. There are outdoor seats on which to relax, and a giant chess board outside Penney’s has huge movable pieces that practically beg for a game.

Although not as big or as upscale as Tampa’s International Plaza, The Shops at Wiregrass has higher-end stores including Pottery Barn and Talbots. You’ll find mall staples like Sunglass Hut and Claire’s, but also stores not otherwise seen in the Tampa Bay area like the Belgian chocolate shop Leonidas and Lizard Thicket, a women’s clothing store. And I was thrilled to see a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

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Also in this booming South Pasco area is Tampa Premium Outlets, a large outlet mall about 3 miles away in Lutz. And for a truly different shopping experience there’s the Grove at Wesley Chapel, whose new Krate container park has dozens of shops and eateries made out of repurposed shipping containers.

The Shops at Wiregrass, 28233 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. theshopsatwiregrass.com.