Knowing the best shopping spots in San Diego helps you save your time and money as a San Diego resident or a visitor from out of town.
San Diego has lots of shopping spots such as boutiques, malls, outlet malls, and museum gift stores that all give a unique shopping experience.
Shopping spots in San Diego vary from the Fashion Valley Mall, Urban Seed, and even the Mingei International Museum Collector’s Gallery Store.
This guide provides a well-researched list of the top best shopping spots in San Diego where you’ll have a unique shopping experience.
San Diego Best Shopping Spots
1. Fashion Valley
Fashion Valley situated in the Mission Valley region of San Diego, is a beautiful shopping paradise with about 200 boutiques, eateries, and two-level outdoor surroundings.
Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, JC Penny, TopShop, AllSaints, Louis Vuitton, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., and Prada are among the retail stores in the center.
Excellent outdoor cafes and sit-down eateries are scattered around the property, providing relief for tired feet after hours of shopping.
There is enough parking available, including valet, which you may want to consider during the hectic holiday season.
Fashion Valley is recommended as one of the best shopping spots in San Diego because you have a better chance of finding what you want here than anywhere else.
Every shop here has a greater and wider variety and although this mall has a higher-end feel to it, everyone can find something to take home.
2. Seaport Village
Over 50 unique businesses and galleries make up this 14-acre seaside hamlet, known as Seaport Village.
Handmade soaps, nautical souvenirs, home furnishings, magic tricks, jewelry, spicy sauces, toys, sportswear, books, decorative tiles, kites, music boxes, coffee beans, and hammocks are among the products available.
Delicious cuisine restaurants, burger and pizza cafes, and even cookie and ice cream stores are among the dining alternatives.
The advent of The Headquarters, a refurbished entertainment complex that includes Puesto and Eddie V’s restaurants, has also substantially improved the region.
Seaport Village is noted for its unique shops and restaurants that line the bay’s shoreline, as well as a diverse range of entertainment opportunities.
At this shopping spot in San Diego, you can find everything from beach gear to art can be found here.
3. Carlsbad Premium Outlets
The Carlsbad Premium Outlets are located near LEGOLAND, approximately west of The Flower Fields and east of I-5.
This outlet mall contains around 90 businesses and restaurants with typical discounts ranging from 25% to 65% off retail pricing.
You can sometimes even locate current products at Barney’s New York, Banana Republic, Gap, Theory, Stride Rite, Coach, Skechers, and Crate and Barrel which are popular stores in the outlet.
There are several fast-casual restaurants in the area, such as Ruby’s Diner and Rubio’s, but Bellefleur is a good option for a nice sit-down meal.
There is lots of parking around the mall, as well as a few stores across the street, such as St. John.
Carlsbad Premium Outlets is the only outlet mall in North County San Diego with various brands like Barney’s and Kate Spade, hence it’s recommended as one of the best shopping spots in San Diego.
4. Cedros Avenue Design District
The Cedros Avenue Design District is located between Via de la Valle and Lomas Santa Fe in Solana Beach.
This district is over 2 blocks long and has over 85 shops, restaurants, spas, and boutiques. Architects and interior designers from all over the world have offices here.
Bixby & Ball, SoLo, and Mabel’s are all popular retailers in this district with various products such as home decor and maternity wears.
Books, maternity clothes, pet supplies, home decor, and jewelry are all available. There’s even a Farmer’s Market at the south end on Sundays.
It’s also a short walk from the Amtrak train station. Begin at Claire’s on Cedros for delicious pre-shopping pancakes.
Cedros Avenue Design District is recommended as one of the best shopping spot in San Diego because Cedros is a more relaxed place to browse for trendy items.
5. Gaslamp Quarter
Gaslamp Quarter is a 16-block stretch located downtown that is one of the national historical sites in this region with over 100 special businesses, art galleries, and restaurants.
The Gaslamp Quarter is home to numerous theaters and nightclubs, so there are plenty of things you can do after the sun goes down.
Urban Outfitters, The Puma Store, Quicksilver, and Volcom are some of the latest independent stores and retailers where shoppers can shop for cutting-edge fashion items.
There are also unusual unique items such as the latest skateboarding gear at Street Machine, hand-rolled cigars on-site at the Cuban Cigar Factory, and crazy pet clothes at Lucky Dog.
Gaslamp Quarter is recommended as one of the the best shopping spots in San Diego because most visitors do end up in the Gaslamp Quarter, so just make time for shopping too.
You can also take a break from shopping and have lunch at one of the Gaslamp’s well-regarded restaurants.
6. Urban Seed
Urban Seed, a local favorite, offers home and garden decor as well as counseling services if your home or garden needs a quick facelift.
They do sell disease and pest-resistant, high-producing seeds, fresh-cut flowers, paper, furniture, air plants, distinctive glassware, and garden accessories, making it an ideal spot to shop for a gift.
They have impressive earthy displays and a selection of soaps, plants, cut flowers, paper,, and home decor items that make them unique.
Because of its Fiesta Del Reyes location in Old Town, this establishment is an ideal stop for guests looking for authentic Mexican food and a little California history.
Urban Seed is recommended as the one of the best shopping spots in San Diego because it is a jewel in the center of a tourist district with mostly souvenir shops.
7. La Jolla
Prospect Street in La Jolla, known as the Rodeo Drive of San Diego, overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is lined with tiny specialized shops, boutiques, antique emporiums, and art galleries.
Prospect’s adjacent streets, such as Girard and Ivanhoe, also provide fantastic boutique shopping.
La Jolla is noted for its excellent and unique fine jewelry, in addition to delivering attractive, designer clothing in sophisticated apparel shops.
Despite the presence of major retailers such as Kate Spade, GAP, and Lululemon, the area retains a small-town feel.
Parking on the street is limited to one hour, but there is plenty of 2-hour parking on nearby streets. You can also easily walk to some of the best eateries in this region.
La Jolla is recommended as one of the best shopping spots in San Diego because the area is densely packed with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and ocean vistas, all within walking distance of one another.
In Downtown La Jolla, notable stores include Warwick’s for books and gifts, MOS My Own Space for home decor, and Hi Sweetheart and Geppetto’s for toys.
8. Mingei International Museum Gift Shop
This wonderful gift shop is housed within the Mingei International Museum and has a fascinating collection of folk art and collectibles from all over the world.
The merchandise varies depending on the current show, so expect to discover beautiful tea sets, breathtaking jewelry, housewares, books, and D.I.Y. crafts.
Shoppers can purchase items for people of all ages and in a variety of pricing ranges. Although museums charge admission, visitors who merely wish to browse at the gift shops are not forced to pay.
Stop at the Mingei International Museum and check out this gift store full of unique housewarming gifts and children’s crafts.
9. Horton Plaza
Horton Plaza’s bright and whimsical architecture sets it unique from any other retail mall in the area;, since its development in the mid-1980s, the complex has become something of a San Diego symbol.
This multi-level and elaborate complex is recognized for kickstarting the Gaslamp Quarter’s Renaissance, and it continues to attract both locals and visitors alike to this day.
Major merchants, as well as a diverse range of shops, cafés, and restaurants, make it a favorite lunchtime destination for downtown employees.
An outdoor ice skating rink adds a festive touch during the holiday season and for visitors staying in Downtown San Diego, this is a convenient shopping mall.
Because the parking structure can be complex, pay attention to where you park so you’ll see the signs igns of plants and fruits demarcating zones. Validate your parking ticket at one of the complex’s kiosks.
10. Little Italy
Little Italy in San Diego is an area mixed with urban flair and the history of Italian and Sicilian immigrants who lived here in the early twentieth century.
There are numerous art galleries, home decor stores, boutiques, and even antique dealers if shopping is on your mind.
Of course, Italian restaurants prevail, but if you prefer something different, there are plenty of options Little Italy is a lively, enjoyable place to shop for an afternoon.
On Saturdays, one of San Diego’s most popular Farmer’s Markets is held in Little Italy, offering a wide variety of vegetables and crafts manufactured by local artisans.
Little Italy is noted for home decor and antique shopping, with a few clothes boutiques, jewelry stores, and salons.
Before or after shopping, treat yourself to a glass of wine and Italian dinner at one of the many restaurants.
Exploring and shopping at all the shopping spots listed above is a great way to tour, learn, and enjoy your stay in San Diego.
Have a great day.