Tuesday, February 27, 2024

San Diego Shopping: The Top 12 Destinations

Visit San Diego’s world-class malls, or explore the county’s charming shopping districts located in unique neighborhoods.

Any San Diego vacation should include days at the beach and visits to major attractions, but you should set aside some quality time for finding treasures to bring home. Shopping options around San Diego County include neighborhood commercial districts, large malls, bargain-filled outlet centers, and unique boutiques. Not only can you find many global luxury brands in San Diego, but you can also shop for names and looks that are popular in California, including beachy chic and surf fashion.

San Diego’s open-air shopping destinations also offer a local specialty: near-perfect weather. Start your San Diego shopping list by exploring these places, listed from north to south.

Westfield UTC

For Families and Foodies

Located east of La Jolla and the University of California, San Diego, the open-air Westfield UTC (which stands for University Town Center) is home to more than 165 stores. Choose from classic brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, and Macy’s, as well as luxury brands including Hermes and Tiffany. It’s easy to spend the day here, with plenty of papasan-style outdoor seating, firepits, and kids’ attractions like a playground and LEGO store. Dining options include branches of smaller chains Din Tai Fung and Great Maple as well as local favorite sandwich shop Board & Brew.

La Jolla Village

For a shopper who wants to make a day of it

The tony community of La Jolla feels like San Diego’s own bubble: The enclave straddles the coast north of the city and has its own beaches and an attractive walkable downtown. Locals call the “downtown” area of ​​La Jolla the Village or the Cove, because it’s next to a beach cove known for its roaring sea lions and ocean views. Start by browsing the shops on Girard Avenue and Prospect Street, where you’ll find luxury brands like Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Bahama, as well as independent boutiques like Ascot Shop, Warwick’s Books, and H. Moradi Fine Jewellery. There are surprises, too, like the Goodwill store known for its high-end hand-me-downs, and the Legends Gallery, which features prints of lesser-known drawings by former La Jolla local Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. You can also eat all day: Enjoy breakfast or a snack at Sugar and Scribe, and end the day with cocktails and an ocean view at George’s at the Cove.

Fashion Valley

For Trendsetters and Luxury Shoppers

Home to over 200 stores and 30 restaurants, Fashion Valley is San Diego’s largest shopping mall. Shop luxury fashion brands like Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, and Gucci and upgrade your wardrobe with the trendiest new looks. This outdoor mall is also anchored by two classic department stores: Bloomingdale’s and Neiman-Marcus. The mall is also good for cuisine. Beyond the familiar food court options, you can enjoy sit-down dinners at Blanco Cocina + Cantina, North Italia, Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar, and a branch of acclaimed San Diego coffee roaster Better Buzz.

Hill of Flowers

For Small Business Fans

Located in Del Mar, Flower Hill offers a unique shopping experience, mixing global brands with a curated collection of local boutiques. Geppetto’s Toys, Sweetpea Children’s Shop, and Lavender Home & Garden are among the locally owned retailers that call Flower Hill home. Luxury brands like Patrick James (menswear) and Van De Vort (highly curated fashion for women) bring a little glamor to the mall. Shoppers can also dine at New York-style deli Milton’s, try the healthy cuisine at Flower Child, or enjoy a hearty breakfast at Richard Walker’s Pancake House.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets

For Brand-Name Savings and Nearby Attractions

You’ll find 85 designer and brand-name stores at Carlsbad Premium Outlets in North San Diego County. Adidas, Nike, Coach, Kate Spade New York, and Tory Burch are just a few of the national brands in the shopping center, but you can also cultivate your California look at Vans, Johnny Was, and O’Neill. The mall has excellent neighbors, too: The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch is next door (blooming with ranunculus flowers in the spring), and just beyond is LEGOLAND California and the beaches and campgrounds of South Carlsbad. .

The Forum Carlsbad

For a Quick Luxury Fix

Explore high-end retail stores and modern eateries in this compact shopping center filled with many big names. Forum Carlsbad has Anthropologie, Lululemon, and a large Sur La Table, as well as several day-spa options. Don’t miss a meal at Casa de Bandini, the North County cousin of a beloved restaurant in Old Town San Diego.

Cedros Avenue Design District

For Home Decor and Culinary Entertainment

Fashion boutiques, fine jewelry, art galleries, and outdoor cafes are among the 85 unique shops and retailers that call the Cedros Avenue Design District home. Located just a few blocks from the ocean, Cedros Avenue is Solana Beach’s walkable downtown area. Stop by furniture and design stores like SoLo, pick up olive oils at Temecula Olive Oil Co., and linger over a latte at Lofty Coffee. Extend your overnight stay by dining at steakhouse Rare Society or by catching a show at local favorite Belly Up. Go on a Sunday afternoon to pick up produce, flowers, and treats at the weekly farmers market.

North Park

For Eclectic Gifts

The North Park neighborhood has long been a hotbed for up-and-coming restaurants and its shopping district has the same creative energy. Browse vintage clothing at Daily, Mexican-made treasures at Artelexia, and used and rare tomes at Verbatim Books. While you’re shopping, don’t miss independent and local art galleries like Visual. Get more tips on where to eat and hang out in this curated itinerary.

Gaslamp Quarter

For Browsing Before Night

Located in the heart of downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter is mostly known for its bars and restaurants, but it also offers great shopping. Check out the eclectic shops, from Goorin Bros. Bold Hatmakers to It’Sugar Candy Store to a branch of Quiksilver. Make a night of it by exploring these dining and nightlife options in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Port Village

For Shopping with a View

Enjoy the view of the harbor while shopping for little treasures at Seaport Village, located on 14 acres between downtown and the Embarcadero. The 50-plus shops include fashions at the Influencer Boutique, Native art and jewelry at the Indian Trails Gallery, and local wines at the San Pasqual Winery Tasting Room. Stay for dinner and choose from bayside restaurants like Malibu Farm and Edgewater Grill and a long list of casual eateries including San Diego Burger Company and Mike Hess Brewing.

Balboa Park

For Artsy and Cultural Souvenirs

Located northeast of downtown, Balboa Park acts as San Diego’s cultural center. The 1,200-acre, green park is home to more than 20 museums and cultural institutions, such as the Fleet Science Center, The Museum of Us, and the Model Railroad Museum. Museums also offer many gift shops, which you can always browse even if you are not exploring the museum. Start at the San Diego Museum of Art store, the San Diego History Centerstore, and the Comic-Con Museum shop. Be sure to visit the Spanish Village Arts Center to see the works of over 200 local artisans.

Las Americas Premium Outlets

For Big Savings on Luxury Brands

With more than 125 stores, Las Americas Premium Outlets is the largest outlet mall in the area, located halfway between downtown San Diego and Tijuana. It is lined with courtyards, fountains, and statues. Choose your brand names and enjoy savings of up to 65 percent at stores including Adidas, Forever 21, Armani, J. Crew, and Nike. Choose from dining options like Achiote, a traditional Mexican restaurant whose menu includes a great pre-shopping breakfast.

Plan Your Trip

For more shopping-trip ideas, check out this Shopping Spree road trip that covers several retail-therapy hubs throughout Southern California. Or focus your energy on the best outlet malls in California, or niches like big surf shops and even record stores. Shopping around California’s cultural districts is also rewarding, as these areas offer an entry point into an area’s vibrant culture, including local artists, and small businesses.

World Nation News Desk
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