Shopping is a big part of exploring a new city, and one of my favorite past times.
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! 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.
Where to Go for the Best Outdoor Shopping in San Diego
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
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, too.
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.
Drink and Snack Break: Café 21
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.
In the 1950s, 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 you'll find while outdoor shopping in San Diego. 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.
Drink and Snack Break: Lockwood Table Café
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.
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
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
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!