We are so spoiled in San Diego. With beaches, amazing weather, good-looking people everywhere you go, and outdoor shopping available all year round, it’s easy to see why it is a top vacation destination! Shopping is a big part of exploring a new city, and one of my favorite past times. While you’re walking around getting acquainted with the different areas, it’s nice to break up your walk with a stop at an interesting boutique. Here is a list of some fun and fabulous areas to enjoy outdoor shopping in San Diego.  I’ve also included some of my favorite shops and a restaurant highlight where you can take a half hour breather in the middle of your San Diego shopping marathon.

Outdoor Shopping in San Diego

Where to Go for the Best Outdoor Shopping in San Diego

Downtown

The Headquarters
Located in Downtown, San Diego, just behind Sea Port Village, is a historic Spanish building that was once home to the Police Headquarters from 1924-1986. The building was recently renovated and reopened as a quaint shopping area with restaurants, bars, and galleries.     If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind, San Diego-specific items to take home with you, this is the place to shop! There are only a handful of stores, so each store has been carefully selected to enhance the visitor’s experience. For local items such as art, jewelry, and clothing designers, check out Simply Local where you can also buy locally made candies, soaps, and specialty foods.   To get your Cali girl/boy fits, head into Urban Beach House for stylish beach and urban wear.

Drink and Snack Break: Puesto

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The 16 1/2 blocks of the Gaslamp Quarter are filled with places to shop.

Gaslamp Quarter
Most people know this area for the delicious restaurants and nightlife party vibes, but by day, you can get some serious shopping done. You can start your shopping at the Gaslamp Quarter sign on 5th Ave, and pop into Bubbles Boutique; a fun and vibrant women’s apparel shop. As you walk north, you can stop in for a chocolate sample at Ghiradelli’s just before checking out Dolcetti for stylish men and women fashions. If you want to get a full blown makeover before your night out, make an appointment at Dolcetti’s in-house salon; A Style Concierge. If you are in search for an urban apparel shop, you must check out the hundreds of unique items at Attic.

Drink and Snack Break: Café 21

Little Italy
Just a short stroll north of the Gaslamp you’ll find Little Italy. Cruise up India St. and stop into Shopaholics Boutique where the unique women’s clothing won’t break the bank because nothing is priced over $100. For some unique household items and fashionable purses and accessories, Masquerade is a must! You never know what treasures you’ll find here! Another great spot is Vocabulary where you will find both men and women’s fashions and some local designer articles. In North Little Italy, a whole new world of shopping unfolds as you enter the home décor and design district. Get fun and colorful Mexican items at Casa Artelexia, or modern furniture and home accessories at Mixture.

Drink and Snack Break: El Camino (open after 5pm) or Ballast Point

The Beaches

Cedro’s Avenue
In the 1950’s, Cedros used to be the home of defense contractor Bill Jack who built several Quonset huts that can still be seen here today. Today these structures are the location of retail shops. The area has transformed over the past few decades to be a lively community full of culture, art, and character. From shoes and clothes to home décor, antiques, art, specialty gift shops, restaurants, and even a brewery and winery, Cedros Avenue has it all! I love Cedro’s Soles for amazing shoes and Leaping Lotus (a marketplace full of delightful artisans) for great gifts.

Drink and Snack Break: Lockwood Table Café

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Amore Boutique/Facebook

La Jolla
The jewel of San Diego gets its name by its unique and breathtaking coastline, but in reality, La Jolla is home to dozens of luxury shops including many fine jewelry stores. From amazing diamond-crested designs to high-end watches, to art collections, and clothing, La Jolla is a beautiful area to walk around and shop. Two favorites shops include Nothing to Wear, a store with exceptional customer service and the latest trends, as well as Amore Boutique, a high-end boutique featuring Italian fashions.

Drink and Snack Break: George’s at the Cove – California Modern

Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade
Del Mar is known for popular annual events such as the San Diego County Fair and the Del Mar Racetrack Horse Races, but for the locals who live in and around this area, the events of shopping and great dining are year-round. At the Flower Hill Promenade, you can shop for groceries, specialty wines, cosmetics, apparel, and home furnishings. Check out Mr. B’s Luminaries for natural, hand-made candles, and Tre Boutique for fashionable finds.

Drink and Snack Break: Sea & Smoke

Outlets

Carlsbad Premium Outlets
If you’re heading to L.A. or Orange County from San Diego, make sure to pop into the Carlsbad Premium Outlets for some bargain shopping on top brands. From BCBG to Barney’s New York, and Michael Kors, you’ll find items to update your wardrobe for a fraction of regular retail prices. Enjoy the ocean breeze, and smell the fresh flowers of the popular Carlsbad Flower Fields, which are situated at the mall’s entrance and open seasonally.

Drink and Snack Break: Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill

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Sales are a shopper’s best friend!

Las America’s Premium Outlets
For great deals on designer brands, you can take the MTS Trolley down to the Mexican border to the Las America’s Premium Outlets. Just stop at the San Ysidro Transit Center, a 45-minute ride from Downtown, San Diego. This outlet super mall can satisfy anyone looking to shop for great deals. From Nike, to Guess, to J. Crew and Hurley, you’ll find brand names at 20-65% off prices at department stores.

Drink and Snack Break: Achiote Mexican Restaurant

I hope you enjoy your time outdoor shopping in San Diego. Pack light because you’re sure to find some great items to take home with you!


Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.

To score the casual/beachy/chic look that many San Diegans pull off year-round, it’s important to know where we shop for the best fashion finds. From malls, to outlet centers, and shopping neighborhoods, San Diego shopping has got a wide variety for visitors of all types. You can forget the beach for now, because you’re going to have your work cut out for you once you get to know these popular San Diego shopping locations!

Fashion Valley Mall
What budget? Ha! Fashion Valley is considered the best mall in San Diego with high-end boutiques and department stores that will have any woman or man wanting so badly to not have a budget of any sort. You can spend the entire day here, take a sushi break for lunch, and keep going until 9pm. You’ve got the big stores such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales, the smaller stores such as Zara and All Saints, and the luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci all in one location!

Horton Plaza
If you’re staying in the Downtown area, this is a fun mall to check out not only because shopping is inevitable, but also because of the loud and colorful design of this mall.  Horton Plaza was designed to keep shoppers in the mall by including many levels and steps, which may take you a while to figure out how to get back to your car in the parking lot, so make sure to remember which fruit/vegetable you parked in. You can find some great deals on fashion women’s clothing at some of the boutiques as well as some core pieces to add to your wardrobe.

University Town Center (UTC)
This newly renovated mall has beautiful outdoor places to relax and hang out in between shopping sessions at your favorite retailers. They have unlikely stores such as pre-teen clothing at Justice, as well as your staple favorites like Nordstrom and Guess. University Town Center is great for shopping with your kids because once they’ve had enough shopping, they can be entertained at the ice skating rink connected to the mall.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets
In North County, you can spend quite a bit of time browsing through the outlet stores at Carlsbad Premium Outlets. Get 30%-60% off retail prices at stores such as BCBG, Coach, Bose, and Barney’s New York. You can shop for the entire family after visiting Legoland or the beach, since both are only about a mile away from the mall.

Las Americas Premium Outlet Mall
You can take the trolley to the Las Americas Premium Outlet Mall, which is situated just on the other side of the international border. With about 125 outlet stores, you’ll save money and get a wardrobe revamp in just one visit! I’ve had groups visit this mall and come back with new suitcases to carry all of their new purchases!

Now that you’re equipped to take on the shopping world of San Diego, make sure to pack light because you’re going to need all of the extra space for your fun fashion finds!


Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.

San Diego is a shopper’s paradise! There are a range of places to go, from luxury malls to discount outlets to one-of-a-kind boutiques. Whether you’re looking for a souvenir or something special to spruce up your wardrobe, you can find it all here while shopping in San Diego. The balmy weather, with an average temperature of 72 degrees, also lends itself to outdoor shopping in San Diego. Add a little (or a lot!) of retail therapy to your San Diego vacation! Use this quick guide on places to shop to aide your excursions.

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Outlet Centers
If you’re like me, you love a good bargain. Luckily, you can find steep discounts on designer and brand names at San Diego Outlet Malls. Centers are located throughout San Diego County; some of the most popular outlet malls are centrally located in Mission Valley. Lux labels can be found at shops like Off 5th Saks, Nordstrom Rack, Barneys New York and Michael Kors.

Las Americas Premium Outlets
Address: 4211 Camino De La Plaza, San Diego, CA 92173
Phone: (619) 934-8400

Carlsbad Premiums Outlets
5620 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Phone: (760) 804-9000

Viejas Outlet Center
5005 Willows Rd Suite 229, Alpine, CA 91901
Phone: (619) 659-2070

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Shopping Malls
Shopping Malls in San Diego offer a range of selections. From luxury brands to family-friendly labels and stores, all of your shopping needs are met. High end department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom feature designers like Prada, Armani, Gucci, and Kate Spade, to name a few. Of course, high-end labels like Coach, Bebe, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Jimmy Choo are also available for lux retail therapy. Popular brands such as  Lucky, Hollister, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, H&M, Anthropologie and Forever 21 provide more affordable options.

Fashion Valley Mall
7007 Friars Road, San Diego, CA 92108
Phone: (619) 688 9113

Horton Plaza
324 Horton Plaza San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 239 8180

Westfield UTC
4545 La Jolla Village Dr., Suite E-25, San Diego, CA 92112
Phone: (858) 546 8858

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Outdoor Shopping Centers
The weather in San Diego helps make outdoor shopping centers a favorite place to window shop. Local boutiques are intermingled with specialty stores, creating a unique experience for visitors and locals alike. A few of my go-to shops include Tucci Boutique, Studio 1220 and Maggie B.

The Forum Carlsbad
Address: 1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad, CA 92009
Phone: (760) 479-0166

Del Mar Highlands Town Center
Address: 12925 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130
Phone: (858) 793-5757

Flower Hill Promenade
Address: 2720 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014
Phone: (858) 481-2904

Neighborhood shopping opportunities are also numerous. Visit area such as the Gaslamp District, Seaport Village, Little Italy, La Jolla, Old Town, Coronado, Mission Hills and Ocean Beach for one-of-a-kind shopping. From boutiques to antique stores, these San Diego districts offer distinct style and culture.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Who doesn’t love to do a little shopping while on vacation? At Seaport Village you can not only shop, but sightsee, dine and enjoy free entertainment. The 14-acre San Diego waterfront complex is conveniently located along San Diego Bay, so you can easily drive, walk or hop a trolley to visit the outdoor Seaport Village.

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Charming cobblestone pathways coupled with fountains and well-manicured landscaping creates an inviting place to stroll.   Feel the ocean breezes blow across your skin as the warm sun embraces you in its glow. As you traipse through the Village, home to more than 50 shops, you’re sure to find something you can’t live without. The Bay Company and Seaport Shell Village Co. are great for souvenirs, while the San Diego Surf Co. is your one-stop shop for beachwear. Happen to forget something while packing? Stop by Destination Travel to pick up anything you many have left behind. Art galleries, toy shops and memorabilia stores round out the collection of shops.

You’re sure to work up an appetite while here, which is why the selection of four award-winning restaurants and 13 sidewalk cafes are the perfect addition. All of the main restaurants offer bay-view dining, and many of the other smaller eateries do as well.

Some of my favorite Seaport Village dining options include:

  • Harbor House
  • San Diego Pier Café
  • Greek Islands Café
  • Margarita’s Kitchen and Cantina
  • Marion’s Fish Market

 

In need of something sweet? Indulge at Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream or Frosted Robin Cupcakes.

Amidst all of this, you’ll also find a 1895 Loof Carousel with over 30 intricately, hand-carved animals, as well as free Sunday concerts and face painter and balloon artists (weekends only). Have your furry friend with you? Seaport Village is also dog friendly!

Visit the Gaslamp Quarter, located just blocks away  »
Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.