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It's All About Outdoor Shopping

Sunshine and shopping - what could be better!

Enjoying the sights and warm sun of San Diego goes hand-in-hand with shopping. Malls here aren't your typical retail experience; they're all about the outdoors.

By: Sandra Veum, Personal Shopper

Here are some highlights from different shopping areas throughout San Diego County:

Downtown, Uptown & Nearby

Downtown San Diego is the place to be and be seen with the latest fashions from both national and regional boutique stores located throughout the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. Headquarters at Seaport Village turns an old police headquarters into a shopping and dining haven with an outdoor plaza that provides a unique backdrop for evening events.

Just North of Downtown is the neighborhood of Little Italy blocks of great restaurants, galleries, brew pubs, wine bars and boutique shopping. A few don't miss boutiques include Be Boutique, Stroll Boutique, Rosa Mariposa, Vocabulary Boutique and Love & Aesthetics where you'll find unique clothing, jewelry and collectibles. The area also features a number of great home stores including including Stoll Home, James at Home, and Home EC.

Neighborhood shopping is definitely worthwhile in San Diego where you can find unique treasures while you mix and mingle with the locals. Some of our favorite walkable neighborhoods for outdoor shopping including Hillcrest, Little Italy, North Park, South Park, Mission Hills, Liberty Station/Point Loma and Coronado. They are all easily accessible from Downtown San Diego and offer their own unique vibe and offerings.

Mission Valley & Old Town

Mission Valley, in the heart of San Diego, is the place to go for everything from casual to couture. Fashion Valley, a two-level, open-air complex, showcases the major department stores Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and JC Penney, while featuring nearly 200 specialty and retail shops, such as Tiffany & Co., Gucci, YSL, Anthropologie, All Saints, Hugo Boss, Kendra Scott and Madewell. Fashion Valley also offers multiple restaurants and bistro cafés, as well as an 18-screen theater. Just a few miles east, the Westfield Mission Valley is perfect for all of life's necessities with a two-story Target, DSW Shoes, Nordstrom Rack, Bloomingdale's Outlet and a 20-screen movie theater.

Immerse yourself in the colorful culture of the Americas at San Diego's Old Town and Bazaar del Mundo Shops with displays of wearable and one-of-a-kind folk art from Southwest turquoise and pottery to Mexican and South American tapestries.

La Jolla

In La Jolla's Golden Triangle, between Interstates 5 and 805, Westfield UTC offers visitors a unique mix of 155 specialty stores, services and award-winning restaurants in an open-air setting. Department stores include Nordstrom and Macys, with other popular stores including Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Bonobos, Chico's, Goriana, Chico's, Eddie Bauer, Crate & Barrel, J. Crew, Janie and Jock, Jo Malone London and Pottery Barn.

Along the coast, is the Village of La Jolla shopping district. Start at Girard St. and Coast Highway and make your way along blocks of walkable and wonderful shopping. Here you'll find everything from haute couture boutiques to old familiars like Lululemon, Gap, Banana Republic and Chico's. Be sure to stop in to Warwick's book store, a San Diego icon where authors regularly do readings.

North San Diego

North County offers everything from expansive outlet malls to small boutiques. One Paseo is the newest addition to the area of Del Mar. Just off of the Interstate 5 and North of the 56 this convenient lifestyle mixed-use project combines luxury apartments with an open laid-back stylish setting of shopping and dining. Even if you don't live or work here, this shopping area invites you to meet up, hang out, and join in the local community. Del Mar Highlands Town Center sits next door and invites shoppers to explore a unique collection of boutiques, outdoor dining, specialty shops, groceries, and more.

Just a little further north in Del Mar is Flower Hill Promenade offering a variety of boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and wine/cheese bars.

Shopping at outlets like Carlsbad Premium Outlets is practically a sport here, with famous names selling shoes, clothing, housewares and jewelry at huge discounts. Conveniently located just over an hour's drive from Los Angeles and just thirty minutes north of downtown San Diego on Interstate 5, featuring more than 90 outlet stores offering every day savings of 25% to 65% in an attractive outdoor village setting, with indoor and outdoor dining options. The Cedros Design District in Solana Beach is devoted to displaying exceptional finds for the home, from exotic wood furnishings to unique garden displays.

In addition to upscale boutiques and pet stores, shopping along historic Highway 101, from Lucadia to Solana Beach is always a treat, with high end eclectic boutiques, surf shops and thrift stores all converging to give the area its own unique vibe.

South San Diego

South Bay's Otay Ranch Town Center is where even the pets get to play at this mall playground with a dazzling Apple store and clothes from various well known stores like Loft, Aldo and H&M. Finish off your marathon of shopping from north San Diego to south San Diego at Las Americas Premium Outlets, the area's largest premium outlet mall. It contains more than 150 stores and beautiful courtyards with fountains, statues and elegant architecture. Las Americas is less than 1,000 feet from the international border with Mexico, including Tijuana's historic Avenida Revolucion Tourist district, and only 15 minutes from downtown San Diego. Easily accessible from the San Ysidro/Tijuana trolley stops.

East San Diego

Voted "Best Outlet Center" by San Diego Magazine, Viejas Outlet Center is a 37-acre, open-air shopping, dining and entertainment paradise. It features more than 40 of America's favorite brand name stores, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors and Coach - just to name a few. Before ending your shopping journey, relax near a waterfall and enjoy the Kumeyaay culture.

South of the Border

Some of the region's best bargains can be found south of the border in Tijuana, Mexico. For visitors who choose to drive into Tijuana, car insurance is easily available and recommended. Mexican clothing, jewelry, leather, pottery, and tequila are just a sampling of the bargain gift items available in this festive, international city. Tijuana is a duty-free zone. Shoppers can pay with U.S. currency, pesos, traveler's checks, or major credit cards. U.S. residents may return home with up to $800 worth of merchandise (duty free), including one liter of alcoholic beverages (if 21 or older), 100 cigars and 200 cigarettes. Some merchandise, such as certain fruits, vegetables and products from endangered species, are not permitted.

Collecting gifts, souvenirs, mementos and some new additions to your wardrobe couldn't be more pleasurable with San Diego's beautiful weather and endless outdoor shopping opportunities.

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