Best Places To Shop In San Diego

Best Places To Go Shopping In San Diego

San Diego is a great place for a lot of things; museums, beaches, fantastic restaurants, bars and breweries, and charming neighborhoods are just a few of them. Shopping in San Diego is another amazing thing that the city has to offer. So we break down the best shopping in San Diego:

Westfield UTC La Jolla | Where to Shop in San Diego

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Shopping Malls

Westfield UTC (La Jolla)

Westfield UTC in La Jolla (pictured above) is a great outdoor shopping mall in San Diego county. It is currently undergoing a $500 million renovation but remains open to the public. This inviting retail space offers a bevy of retail, dining, and entertainment options... notably an AcrLight Cinema, ice skating rink, a 24-hour fitness gym, and an indoor/outdoor dining terrace. Plenty of people have noted this retail center has made marked improvements since recent renovations and we expect that trend to continue in the future!

Fashion Valley (Mission Valley)

Fashion Valley, located on the west side of Mission Valley is likely the most upscale shopping experience you will find in San Diego in terms of store selection. You'll find stores like Bloomingdale's, Armani Exchange, John Varvatos, Lacoste, Kay Jewelers, Louis Vutton, and more at this outdoor mall. The mall also includes an AMC Theatre with 18 screens. On a nice day, it is a great place to walk around and window shop!

Horton Plaza (Downtown)

Horton Plaza is in the heart of Downtown San Diego and is the best place to go shopping if you are looking for a mall in the Gaslamp Quarter. This is another outdoor mall where you can take in the fresh outside air. With three levels and a less than conventional layout, there is definitely ample opportunity to get a good amount of walking in so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. It is a great mall to check out if you're in the area but if you're looking to do some serious shopping, check out Westfield UTC or North County instead.

Westfield North County (Escondido)

Westfield North County is located in Escondido, a good half an hour or so north of the city of San Diego. It is one of the largest shopping centers in San Diego County with three levels of retail stores and dining options. While not as high end as Fashion Valley or Westfield UTC, this Escondido mall has all the stores you need get some quality shopping done. Notable stores include Apple, Brookstone, Express, Forever 21, H&M, Macy's Michael Kors, Nordstrom, and Target. There is even a sizeable bowling alley inside the mall with a full bar.

Hillcrest Shopping in San Diego

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Boutique Shopping

Garnet Ave/Mission Blvd (Pacific Beach)

If you're looking for small shops and boutiques, there are a handful of awesome small shops sprinkled around Pacific Beach down the main drag on Garnet Avenue and nearby Mission Boulevard. Some of the notable shops include The Fabulous Rag Boutique, Pangaea Outpost, California Sock Company, Leilani's Attic, Thrift Trader, Buffalo Exchange, Urban Outfitters, and Play It Again Sports. We highly recommend taking a stroll down Garnet to anyone who wants a break from larger, chain retail stores. 

Seaport Village (Downtown/Waterfront)

Seaport Village is a great waterfront shopping option in Downtown San Diego. The ambiance is fantastic with breathtaking views. You won't find too many brand name retail stores here. Rather, it's mostly stores keeping with the nautical ocean theme. Notable shops include Captain's Cove (decor), Seaport Village Shell Co. (jewelry, arts and crafts), San Diego Surf Co. (apparel), The Bay Company (gifts, souvenirs, sportswear).

Hillcrest and North Park (Hillcrest/Northpark)

In perhaps two of San Diego's trendiest (dare we say hipster even) neighborhoods is where you will find some great alternative shopping options. Hillcrest and North Park are within two miles of each other so you can easily spend time at both places in one day. Think of stores selling vinage clothing, urban wear, used books, and music stores with as many old records as there are music from today's generation. There are even shops offering some unique furniture options from India and South America.

Shopping in Old Town San Diego

Unique to San Diego / Historic Souvenirs

The Village of Old Town (Old Town)

Shopping in Old Town has all the charm one would expect in this pocket of San Diego seemingly frozen in time. The historic atmosphere creates a relaxed and mellow ambiance perfect for a shopping stroll. Many shops here sell artisan crafted handmade items. For example, the Covered Wagon sells Indian jewelry, Western wear, and pottery! You can also find a a cigar lounge with patio outdoor seating serving beer, wine, and cigars (Churchill Cigar Lounge). For the kids, there's Cousin's Old Town Candy Shop featuring various flavors of handmade treats.

Balboa Park Gift Shops (Balboa Park)

Balboa Park is a great place to head to for the more intellectual and artistic crowd. Same goes for the shopping. If you're looking for a little more culture, then the Balboa Park gift shops are for you. From distinct jewelry to intellectually stimulating reading material to unique San Diego souvenirs, there is a lot these various gift shops have to offer. Most are nestled within their respective musuems such as the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Man, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Museum of Art, and more!

Kobey's Swap Meet in San Diego

pic via Kobey's Swap Meet Twitter (@Kobeys)

Swap Meets/On the Cheap

Kobey's Swap Meet (Sports Arena, San Diego)

This is one of the largest (if not the largest) swap meets in San Diego county so be prepared to do some walking. If you're looking for bargains, this is the place to hunt. There are some great vendors here but the reason we like it so much is that it almost feels like a giant garage or rummage sale. Garage sales are perfect for finding bargains and Kobey's feels like a one stop shop which effectively eliminates the hastle and time of driving around town going from garage sale to garage sale. There are also great food options here if you're planning on being around for the better part of the day. Parking is free but entrance costs $2 (bumps down to $1 with a Yelp check-in).

Qualcomm Stadium Swap Meet (Qualcomm, Mission Valley)

Another great place to head to for a swap meet is Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley nestled between the Mission Valley mall and the Fashion Valley mall. The only drawback with this swap meet is its schedule; the Qualcomm Stadium Swap Meet runs every Wednesday. For people that work full-time, it may be difficult to get to Qualcomm on a Wednesday but if you have the time off or are visiting on vacation, it is worthwhile to check out!

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