San Diego Shopping

San Diego’s retail landscape has changed radically in recent years with the opening of several new shopping centers—some in historic buildings—that are focused more on locally owned boutiques than national retailers. Where once the Gaslamp was the place to go for urban apparel and unique home decor, many independently owned boutiques have decided to set up shop in the charming neighborhoods

east of Balboa Park known as North Park and South Park. Although downtown is still thriving, any shopping trip to San Diego should include venturing out to the city’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. Not far from downtown, Little Italy is the place to find contemporary art, modern furniture, and home accessories.

Old Town is a must for pottery, ceramics, jewelry, and handcrafted baskets. Uptown is known for its mélange of funky bookstores, offbeat gift shops, and nostalgic collectibles, and the beach towns have the best swimwear and sandals. La Jolla’s chic boutiques offer a more intimate shopping experience along with some of the classiest clothes, jewelry, and shoes in the county. Point Loma’s Liberty Station shopping area in the former Naval Training Center has art galleries, restaurants, and home stores. Trendsetters will have no trouble finding must-have handbags and designer apparel at the world-class Fashion Valley mall in Mission Valley, a haven for luxury brands such as Hermès, Jimmy Choo, and M Missoni.

Enjoy near-perfect weather year-round as you explore shops along the scenic waterfront. The Headquarters at Seaport District is a new open-air shopping and dining center in the city’s former Police Headquarters building. Here there are some big names but mostly locally owned boutiques selling everything from gourmet cheese to coastal-inspired home accessories. Just next door, Seaport Village is still the place to go for trinkets and souvenirs. If you don’t discover what you’re looking for in the boutiques, head for Westfield Horton Plaza, the downtown mall with more than 100 stores. The sprawling mall has been going through a major restoration project that included demolishing an unused section and putting in a public plaza.

Most malls have free parking in a lot or garage, and parking is not usually a problem. Westfield Horton Plaza and some of the shops in the Gaslamp Quarter offer validated parking or valet parking.

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Variations Imports

  • Art Galleries

Shop here for wall art, clocks, candleholders, Asian figurines, and unusual imports from around the world. ...

Viejas Outlet Center

  • Outlet/Discount Stores

Head east 30 miles from Mission Valley to reach this mall across the street from Viejas Casino. Major brands represented here include...


  • Ceramics/Glassware

The Japanese artist Takao owns this gallery-like shop that sells beautifully handcrafted home-decor items—tableware, vases, and decorative...

Vocabulary Boutique

  • Jewelry/Accessories

A local favorite for its friendly vibe and stylish inventory, this cozy boutique often stars in regional fashion shoots. It's known for...


  • Books/Stationery

This independently owned bookstore has been a La Jolla fixture since 1896 and often hosts big-name author signings. ...

Westfield Horton Plaza

  • Shopping Centers/Malls

Macy's, Nordstrom, and a new natural foods grocer called Jimbo's... Naturaly! anchor this multilevel complex that has 100 smaller stores,...

Westfield Mission Valley

  • Shopping Centers/Malls

The discount stores at San Diego's largest outdoor mall sometimes reward shoppers with the same merchandise as that sold in Fashion Valley,...

Westfield UTC

  • Shopping Centers/Malls

This popular outdoor mall on the east side of I–5 has more than 150 shops and 28 eateries, plus an ArcLight Cinemas and a kids play...

Wine A Bit

  • Gifts/Souvenirs

Part store and part wine bar, the popular Wine A Bit carries hundreds of boutique wines, along with craft beers and decadent desserts.

Ye Olde Soap Shoppe

  • Perfume/Cosmetics

The mere scent of Ye Olde's hand-fashioned soaps conjures up a relaxing bath. If you want to craft your own soaps, you'll find a full...


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