San Diego is an excellent shopping destination in California. It has year-round sunny days, outdoor malls, and scenic views of Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The diverse collection of shopping districts around the city has just about everything you need, whether that’s one-of-a-kind souvenirs, trendy new outfits, or rock-bottom deals.

    Shop like your favourite Hollywood celebrities at San Diego’s Fashion Valley and La Jolla neighbourhood. Be a trendsetter by picking up unique hipster regalia in Hillcrest or the Gaslamp Quarter. You can learn about San Diego’s history, Mexican cultural influence and clothing evolution at Balboa Park and Old Town. Wherever you choose to shop, San Diego will not disappoint.


    Fashion Valley

    Mission Valley's trendsetting shopping destination

    • Shoppers
    • Luxury

    Fashion Valley is a bustling upscale shopping mall, often called the ‘Rodeo Drive’ of San Diego. It’s located off I-8, along the banks of the picturesque San Diego River. Complementing the over 200 stores are 30 unique eateries, providing patrons with an array of award-winning dining options in stunning SoCal aesthetics.

    Start your day perusing one of the many world-renowned luxe brand stores such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, or Louis Vuitton. Keep an eye out as local celebrities are often sighted shopping here. If you’re looking for a unique gift, check out local boutiques such as Na Hoku or Everything But Water. End your shopping spree at one of the larger-than-life department stores such as Nordstrom, Macy’s or JCPenney.

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    Location: 7007 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92108, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday from noon to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 619-688-9113


    photo by FASTILY (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    La Jolla

    Where locals go for arts, crafts and upscale clothing

    • Shoppers

    La Jolla is a swanky beachside neighbourhood, where shopping is a favourite pastime. Home to a plethora of conservative, trendsetting retailers, unique jewellery from far corners of the world, and many art galleries – La Jolla is truly where culture and shopping meet.

    You are best to start at the corner of Girard Avenue and Prospect Street where high-end boutiques like Armani Exchange, Nicole Miller and Sigi's Boutique are located. Continue down Girard Avenue and grab an oriental rug at Aja Rugs or a unique toy for a relative at Geppetto's. Don't miss swinging by iconic bookstore Warwick's before heading to the Open Aire Market. It’s an artisan food and craft market benefiting local schools that only opens on Sundays. Make sure to catch an epic sunset at Marine Street Beach, a mere half-mile from the market.

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    Westfield UTC

    A modern outdoor mall in La Jolla

    Westfield UTC is a shopping centre in the La Jolla district, around 15 miles north of San Diego International Airport. The blend of high-end retailers, top-tier restaurants, a swanky movie theatre, children’s playground and outdoor park come together to provide you with a classic outdoor mall experience.

    You’ll find world-famous brands such as Apple, Oakley, and Michael Kors. The northeast section has homeware stores like Pottery Barn, Sleep Number and Williams-Sonoma. Swing by Tesla to experience what it’s like to sit in one of their famed electric cars before catching an evening show at ArcLight Cinemas. Westfield UTC is dog-friendly, so bring your furry friend and let them enjoy the dog park. If you’re feeling peckish, local favourites Queenstown Bistro and Tender Greens are worth a visit.

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    Location: 4545 La Jolla Village Dr Ste E-25, San Diego, CA 92122, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 8 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 858-546-8858



    Home to San Diego’s hippest urban boutiques

    • Shoppers

    Hillcrest is home to San Diego’s vibrant LGBTQ community, as well as a slew of unique bookstores, trendy thrift shops, and eccentric housewares boutiques. There is no defined shopping zone, so find a street parking spot – make sure to pay at the metre – and start at the intersection of University and Fifth Avenues.

    Travel the world at Co-Habitat, laden with colourful décor and textiles from India, or peruse Nativa’s hearty furniture, made from South American plantation wood. Looking for a provocative gift for your next party? Swing by Babette Schwartz. a pop-culture emporium named after a local drag queen. Book lovers can head to Fifth Avenue, where a slew of rare and used books are on display. Don’t leave Hillcrest without picking up a second-hand outfit at Flashbacks Recycled Fashion.

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    photo by Visitor7 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Las Americas Premium Outlets

    Home to the best deals in San Diego

    • Shoppers

    Las Americas Premium Outlets is the largest outlet mall in San Diego. It’s within a 20-minute drive south of the city, right on the Mexican border. You’ll find over 100 outlet stores representing many of the biggest retail brands, all within an open-air setting.

    Upscale retailers such as Banana Republic, J. Crew, and Polo Ralph Lauren provide you with excellent discounts. Athleisure lovers will enjoy the stellar offerings of Adidas, Under Armour and Nike. There is even a Crocs store for the uber-casual fashionistas. Make sure to book a table at Restaurant El Achiote to taste top-quality Mexican-inspired cuisine before shopping hard in the afternoon.

    Location: 4211 Camino De La Plaza, San Diego, CA 92173, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday from noon to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 619-934-8400


    Balboa Park

    Where shopping and history meet

    Balboa Park is San Diego's green oasis, with over 15 museums and cultural institutions. From local history and regional arts and crafts, there is no shortage of things to learn and explore in this urban cultural park.

    One of Balboa Park’s main highlights is the Spanish Village Arts Centre, which has over 200 local artisans displaying their Hispanic-influenced jewellery, paintings, sculptures, and housewares. Art lovers are sure to find their next home artwork piece at the San Diego Museum of Art store, while history buffs can peruse local memorabilia at the San Diego History Centre Museum Store. Don’t leave Balboa Park without visiting the neighbouring San Diego Zoo – acclaimed by many as the best zoo in the USA.

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    Seaport Village

    The place to find trinkets and waterfront dining

    • Shoppers

    Seaport Village is San Diego's year-round waterfront shopping destination, with a focus on souvenirs, beach clothing and speciality shops. You can fill an entire weekend in this part of the city, thanks to dynamite views, cobblestone pathways, and a slew of upscale seafood eateries.

    In need of a San Diego-centric souvenir? Look no further than the Best of San Diego store. Pop into the novelty store American Nostalgia for unique collectables and toys, or head to San Diego Surf Co. to deck yourself out in rad beach gear. Finish your day with fresh seafood at San Diego Pier Café or Harbour House. Parking can be challenging, so get to the Pacific Highway lot before noon to secure a spot.

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    Location: 849 W Harbour Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 619-530-0704


    Liberty Station

    Walk this historic shopping district along Point Loma

    • Shoppers

    Liberty Station is a former naval training facility with a vibrant array of art galleries, boutiques and stylish bars. Grab an organic tea at Point Loma Tea before strolling over to Historic Decatur Road. You can find one-of-a-kind home décor items at Shop Mingei, and indoor plants at Pigment (formerly an art gallery). For the comic book nerds, peruse Comickaze Comics’ huge selection of mainstream and independent novels.

    Conveniently located between San Diego International Airport and Mission Bay, Liberty Station is a great base for exploring the city’s popular neighbourhoods.

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    Location: 2640 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106, USA

    Phone: +1 619-573-9300


    photo by Alan Islas (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Gaslamp Quarter

    A hotbed of modern furniture and hipster boutiques

    • Shoppers

    The Gaslamp Quarter attracts those looking for home décor and chic urban apparel in San Diego. Located a few blocks from Seaport Village, it offers plenty of one-of-a-kind boutiques, so you’re bound to find a snazzy outfit during your visit.

    Start your shopping adventure at the expansive Westfield Horton Plaza, right in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. Urban Outfitters, Arden B, and Louis Vuitton are within walking distance of each other. If you are looking for some unique local décor, head to Latin American-inspired furniture boutique The Galeria del Sol and the award-winning Urban Lighting showroom.

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    Old Town

    Southwestern-themed shopping destination

    Old Town is a vibrant district that showcases San Diego’s unique Mexican heritage. It offers a plethora of colourful shop vendors, boutiques, and a contagious festive atmosphere. The highlight of the area is Bazaar del Mundo, a Mexican-style market with hundreds of local vendors selling everything from handicrafts to jewellery. There are numerous art galleries where you can peruse the masterpieces of local artists and/or buy a gemstone necklace for that special someone.

    Take a break from shopping to grab a bite at Fiesta Reyes. It offers storytelling and live music to go along with excellent food. The best way to reach Old Town San Diego is via the namesake transit stop, easily accessible from anywhere in the city.

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    photo by Roman Eugeniusz (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Ryan Thomas McNutt | Contributing Writer

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