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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. Horton Plaza, downtown's eye-catching, color-filled shopping center, offers glimpses of sailboats and the arching San Diego-Coronado Bridge from its rooftop. It also offers 6½ city blocks of open-air shopping in a dramatic architectural setting that calls to mind a Technicolor M.C. Escher drawing. With its five staggered levels, Horton Plaza has 140 specialty shops, restaurants and attractions, including a 14-screen movie theater, live theater performances at the Lyceum Theatre, two major department stores, and a multi-layered food court.

Just North of Downtown is the neighborhood of Little Italy blocks of great restaurants, galleries, brew pubs and boutique shopping. A few don't miss boutiques include The Shopaholics Boutique, Rosa Mariposa, Vocabulary Boutique and Melero Boutique & Gallery where you'll find unique clothing, jewelry and collectibles. The area also features a number of great home stores including Simply Italian, Bella Stanza and The French Garden Shoppe.

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, 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 conditioner 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, Anthropology, Apple, Burberry, Coach and MAC Cosmetics. 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 and 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, Macy's and Sears, other popular stores include Abercrombie & Fitch, Apple, Chico's, Eddie Bauer, Crate & Barrel, J. Crew 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 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. 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, it features 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.

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 it's 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 Anthropologie. 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 over 125 stores and beautiful courtyards with fountains, statues and elegant architecture. Las Americas is less then 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 MagazineViejas Outlet Center is a 37-acre, open-air shopping, dining and entertainment paradise. It features more than 60 of America's favorite brand name stores, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger 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 $400 worth of merchandise, 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, and of course some new clothes for yourself couldn't be more pleasurable with San Diego's beautiful weather and endless outdoor shopping opportunities.

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