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San Diego Complete Shopping Guide

For every kind of shopping experience

Shopping enthusiasts delight in San Diego’s neighborhood shopping districts, major malls, antique stores and bargain-filled outlet centers.

By: Sandra Veum, Personal Shopper

Everything from Vintage to Ultra-Stylish and Eco-Friendly to Opulent

Following are some of San Diego's popular shopping opportunities, where colorful and multi-cultural shopping experiences tempt savvy consumers.

Get Hip at Neighborhood Urban Boutiques

In the heart of downtown San Diego, the 16½-block of historic Gaslamp Quarter is filled with cutting-edge fashion in independent boutiques like Dolcetti and Eden Boutiques, in addition to popular retailers like Urban Outfitters and Quicksilver. Unusual shopping opportunities also abound, like cigars hand-rolled on-site at the Cuban Cigar Factory, where you can pick up a new cigar cutter or lighter. 

Located only a few miles north of San Diego's bustling downtown, the vibrant uptown neighborhood of Hillcrest stands as San Diego's LGBT central hub, offering an array of bars, restaurants, coffee houses, resale/vintage boutiques and unique shops. Along the main thoroughfares, University Avenue and the tree-lined Fifth Avenue, browse through boutiques and vintage shops stocked with books, clothes and many treasures. Highlights include Mankind for men's fashion and accessories and Flashbacks for the hippest in retro and vintage clothing. 

On Fir Street in Little Italy, colorful cottages offer boutiques that carry ultra-stylish options including independent designers of women's clothing, accessories, shoes and home decor. Worth a stop are Azzurra Capri Boutique, Love & Aesthetics, Vocabulary Boutique, Little Apple and Stroll Boutique. On nearby India Street, you'll find imported accessories of all kinds in an array of stylish boutiques. 

Take Home Stylish Furnishings

With hundreds of antique dealers in six malls, the Ocean Beach Antique District, located along Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach, offers the largest concentration of antique and collectible dealers in San Diego County. The district offers an array of unique, eclectic retail settings and features one-of-a-kind antiques, mid-century modern furniture, specialty memorabilia and fine estate, vintage jewelry and clothing. 

Solana Beach's Cedros Design District runs the length of Cedros Avenue and is home to a bevy of luxury home décor and designer showrooms, as well as trendy retail boutiques offering unique women's apparel, accessories, shoes and jewelry, not forgetting the pampered pet. 

In Little Italy, from the chic contemporary flair of At HOM Store & Design to the downright mod styles of Boomerang for Modern, the area is a treasure trove of unique furnishings and accents for the home. Italian-inspired retail includes colorful sconces and sparkling chandeliers at Simply Italian and elegant Italian ceramics and gifts at Bella Stanza. The French Garden Shoppe offers European home furnishing and kitchen decor, while Vitreum is the place to pick up trendy housewares and elegant decorative items. At the north end of Little Italy, Architectural Salvage is a haven of vintage home décor and accessories like vintage doorknobs and antique stained art glass windows.

Also in Little Italy, the Kettner Art & Design District encompasses a group of retail shops and art galleries that feature grand selections of home furnishings and fashion accessories. Among its 21 shops is India Street Antiques, offering affordable European dressers, armoires, cabinets and other collectibles. And for the artist in the group, a must-stop is Blick Art Materials where you can find everything from a sketch book to archival supplies.

In the Gaslamp Quarter, shops serve up unusual trinkets for house and home, such as the international flair of Cost Plus World Market to Urban Lighting's contemporary selections in their award-winning showroom. 

In La Jolla, along Girard Avenue, the La Jolla Design District offers numerous home furnishing showrooms and stores, like the coastal ambiance of Seaside Home to the elegant and traditional Ross Thiele & Son showroom, ideal for shoppers seeking unique luxury home décor items and furniture.

Live it up in Luxury Locales

Known as the "jewel by the sea," La Jolla's Prospect Street overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is lined with small specialty shops, boutiques, antique emporiums and art galleries. In addition to offering elegant, designer fashions in sophisticated apparel shops, La Jolla is also known for its exquisite and original fine jewelry of magnificent and brilliant gems.

The revitalized merchant district of Bird Rock, located at the south end of La Jolla, offers an upscale, eco-friendly environment for one-stop shopping. It boasts everything from an organic coffee shop and green nail salon, to designer boutiques like Capricorn and Mimi & Red carrying the latest fashions, accessories and jewelry. The district even has upscale children's clothing boutiques like Petite Street Children's Boutique. 

Farther north in Del Mar, the European-style retail village, Del Mar Plaza, is nestled gently into a hillside along the coast with walkways of Old World stone winding amid boutiques, galleries and restaurants with oceanview piazzas. The village of Del Mar offers additional boutiques, coffee houses and cafes.

Historical Shopping

San Diego includes several historically rich locations for fascinating and fun shopping experiences. Nestled in Old Town State Historic Park, Fiesta de Reyes is a popular destination for food, folklore and fun. This cultural oasis reflects the era of 1821-1872 through a festive environment and traditional and distinctive shops, which capture the essence of three distinct periods in San Diego's colorful history. Also in the heart of Old Town is the Old Town Esplanade, offering specialty shops, restaurants, galleries, and a Southwestern marketplace.

Across San Diego Bay on Coronado peninsula, the San Diego-Coronado Ferry docks at the Ferry Landing.The original ferryboat landing site has been redeveloped into a retail and specialty/entertainment complex, featuring waterfront dining and one-of-a-kind shops. The Hotel Del Coronado is filled with history, having hosted movie stars and diplomats over its many years, and its 20-plus specialty shops offer a truly Southern California shopping experience. You'll find upscale men's and women's apparel, fine jewelry, home and bath accessories and authentic Del merchandise. Coronado's historically preserved downtown offers one-of-a-kind specialty shops, women's boutiques, bookstores, antique shops, home and garden stores, and gourmet food shops. 

Seaport Village, a 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex along San Diego Bay, recreates a California harbor setting of a century ago. With four miles of meandering cobblestone pathways, ponds, fountains and lush landscaping, Seaport Village offers more than 50 theme shops, four award-winning restaurants and 13 sidewalk cafes. The Headquarters at Seaport is the iconic former headquarters of the San Diego Police Department and Seaport's most exciting new destination for specialty shops and world-class restaurants. 

With 1,200 lush acres, 15 museums and the Tony-Award® winning Old Globe theatre, Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the country. The park's museums stock innovative and unique gifts for shoppers who love arts and culture, including museum books, posters, calendars, jewelry and artistic reproductions.

Find Outrageous Outlet Deals

Located in San Diego's North County, Carlsbad Premium Outlets offers everyday savings of 25-65% and features more than 90 outlet stores, including Banana Republic, Barneys New York Outlet, Brooks Brothers, BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Elie Tahari, Kate Spade, Joes, Kipling, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Theory and many more. When shopping from March through May, enjoy a picturesque backdrop of the world-famous Flower Fields at Carlsbad.

Strategically located on the world's busiest border crossing—San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico—with 125 fashion brand stores, Las Americas Premium Outlets is the county's largest outlet mall. Retail outlet stores include Adidas, Ann Taylor, BCBG Max Azria, Hugo Boss, Coach, Hurley, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger and more. 

Located adjacent to the Viejas Casino in San Diego's East County, Viejas Outlet Center features nearly 30 outlet stores, including big names like Carter's Children Wear, Eddie Bauer, Gap Outlet, Guess Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren, Sunglass Hut and Vans Shoes. Bargains aside, the center's striking Southwestern architecture, splashing waterfalls and intricate tile work create a relaxed shopping atmosphere.

Soak up the Sunshine in Outdoor Malls

Westfield Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego offers 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 offers over 50 specialty shops, with restaurants, a multi-layered food court and attractions including a comedy club and restaurant, 14-screen movie theater and live theater performances at the Lyceum Theater.

Fashion Valley, a two-level, open-air luxury shopping center in Mission Valley, showcases over 200 stores with major department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Macy's and Nordstrom, while featuring specialty and retail shops like Apple, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, MAC Cosmetics, Tory Burch, Ted Baker and Tiffany & Co. Fashion Valley also offers restaurants, cafés and an 18-screen theater. 

Hazard Center is a specialty shopping center in Mission Valley with a Barnes & Noble bookstore, an independent movie theatre, nail salon, spa and a variety of restaurants. 

In La Jolla's Golden Triangle, Westfield UTC offers a unique mix of over 90 specialty stores such as Warby Parker, Anthropologie, Bonobos, Lush and Gymboree, and department stores such as Macy's, Nordstrom and Sears. Enjoy an open-air, kid friendly setting among a variety of restaurants and services.  

Otay Ranch Town Center, located in the city of Chula Vista, combines aspects of a regional mall with an old-fashioned town square and includes a pedestrian-friendly layout with lush courtyards, fountains and a dog park. Located on 85 acres, the open-air complex features over 40 specialty stores like Francesca's, H&M, Justice, Loft, Love Culture, the department store Macy's and many restaurant options.

 

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