6 Great Places to Shop in San Diego

Spend a day browsing the outdoor shops in one of San Diego's malls or shopping districts.

By Darcie Czajkowski, ContributorDec. 21, 2016
By Darcie Czajkowski, ContributorDec. 21, 2016, at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

6 Great Places to Shop in San Diego

Shopping street in La Jolla, California, USA

Head to downtown La Jolla where you can peruse the upscale shops.(Getty Images)

From high-end malls to upscale boutiques to beachside shops, San Diego is full of great places to go shopping. And because many of the best malls and shopping districts are open air, you don't need to sacrifice your time in the sun to indulge in a little retail therapy. So put on your walking shoes and get your credit cards ready: Here are six places that will satisfy your every shopping desire.

Fashion Valley

Local experts agree that Fashion Valley is the place to go for upscale shops. Justin Robbins, head concierge at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, says Fashion Valley is the "Mecca of San Diego shopping."

Located in bustling Mission Valley, about a 10-minute drive from downtown, this mall caters to shoppers looking for an elite experience. "It's a must, in the center of it all," says Edna Gutierrez, public relations manager at the San Diego Tourism Authority.

With more than 200 stores, Fashion Valley has international luxury brands like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Hermes, as well as high-end department stores like Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus. After you've worked up an appetite shopping, Andrew Tellez, head concierge at The Westin San Diego, recommends dining at either Stacked or Blue Smoke Sushi Lounge.

Las Americas Premium Outlets

Cathy Gomez, head concierge at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, highly recommends Las Americas to her guests. It's "the largest outlet mall [in San Diego], a favorite with our foreign travelers," she says.

Located one exit north of the Mexican border on Interstate 5 and only 20 minutes south of downtown San Diego, Las Americas is "a cool, touristy thing to do," says Peyton Pierce, concierge at the Andaz San Diego.

This outlet mall has about 125 stores, including Banana Republic, Michael Kors, J.Crew, Adidas and Polo Ralph Lauren. And while you are there, experience authentic Mexican cuisine at Achiote Restaurant.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets

For visitors staying in North County San Diego or who are looking for a relaxing drive up the coast, make the Carlsbad Premium Outlets your shopping venue of choice. Home to more than 90 retailers, such as Theory, Coach, Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger and Cole Haan, this mall dazzles visitors with its tranquil fountain-adorned courtyards and Tuscan-style architecture.

After you've done your shopping, have a bite to eat at the family-friendly Ruby's Diner, a '40s-style spot serving classic American diner food.

Cedros Avenue Design District

If you're searching for a quaint, beachy place to shop, look no further than Cedros Avenue Design District. Located in the coastal community of Solana Beach, this two-and-a-half-block stretch is lined with more than 85 one-of-a-kind shops selling home goods and furnishings, antiques, art and jewelry.

If you are looking for a keepsake to commemorate your trip to San Diego, this district is the place for you. Cedros Avenue is home to the Solana Beach Farmers Market, which is open Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. during the winter months, as well as the Belly Up Tavern, a popular live music venue.

Downtown La Jolla

Start at the corner of Girard Avenue and Prospect Street in affluent La Jolla for the ultimate boutique shopping experience. Located just a short walk from the famous La Jolla Children's Pool and the La Jolla Cove, this area is a hub for upscale shops.

Brett Hamblen, head concierge at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, says this beachside district has a strong "concentration of boutiques, specifically art galleries and jewelry stores." He recommends stopping by Warwick's bookstore, a family-owned-and-operated retailer. You will also find a wide selection of clothing boutiques, antiques stores and other specialty item shops.

UTC

UTC, short for the University Towne Centre, offers a mix of high-end shops, top-tier restaurants and brick-and-mortar stores of internet-based retailers. Sit inside one of Tesla's electric cars, browse the books at the Amazon store or dine at Seasons 52. You can also catch a movie at the on-site ArcLight movie theater. The mall is pet-friendly and even has a dog park, as well as a family lounge with books and videos for children.

UTC is located in La Jolla, near the University of California, San Diego. The mall is currently undergoing renovations that will include new outdoor plazas and gardens, as well as updated shops and alfresco dining. Work is scheduled to finish in October 2017, but the mall is still operating during regular business hours.

To experience more of what San Diego has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

Darcie Czajkowski, Contributor

Darcie Czajkowski writes about travel for U.S. News. She is an avid traveler, who has visited ...  Read more

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