San Diego City Guide

By: Maya Kroth

San Diego Shopping

©2006 Joanne DiBona/San Diego CVB San Diego's Horton Plaza is a shoppingmall with walkways modeled after thosefound in European marketplaces.

From malls and bayside swap meets to chi-chi boutiques and border-town outlet centers, San Diego's shopping districts are many and varied.

Aside from all the standard shopping centers, San Diego's got a wealth of stores in its more walkable neighborhoods: Hillcrest is a haven for lovers of retro and vintage, while the affordable (and disposable) tanks and bikinis sold in the beach shops around Pacific and Mission Beach seem geared toward the largely college-aged crowds that swarm there.


University Heights is an antique lover's paradise, and record collectors will find so many great options beyond the generic megachain, like M-Theory (2234 30th St and 915 W Washington), Cow (5029 Newport Ave), and Lou's (434 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas).

Insider's Guide: The Best of Shopping in San Diego

Fashion Valley Mall (7007 Friars Rd) is a two-level outdoor mall with upscale stores. Among its anchors are Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany, and Lord & Taylor. It also includes well-known specialty chains and unique, one-of-a-kind boutiques. For easy parking in plenty of spots, you should head to the south side parking structure.

Westfield Horton Plaza (324 Horton Plaza) is a multilevel shopping mall with 140 specialty shops, department stores, and several sit-down restaurants. Its black concrete and narrow walkways are patterned after those found in European marketplaces. Numerous merchants display their goods on carts. The building is covered with 1 million, 1-inch tiles laid individually by hand. When you purchase an item, make sure to ask the clerk to validate your parking ticket for two free hours.

Few people have the cash for a Mariah Carey-sized wardrobe (let alone the closet space), but budget-conscious fashionistas know they don't have to sacrifice style for savings. The smart ones head for the factory outlets. The Shops at Las Americas (4211 Camino De La Plaza, San Ysidro) is a sprawling complex with Latin themed architecture and more than 75 stores. You'll find designer stores like Neiman Marcus, Kenneth Cole, and Polo.

Viejas Outlet Center (5000 Willows Rd, Alpine) is the country's first of the dressed-up outlet centers. Its Native American theme with walkways, gardens, and water makes it a serene haven for shopoholics, and it even has an interactive fountain in which children must wear rubber-soled shoes to play in. Its shops include Eddie Bauer, Tommy Hilfiger, and Nike.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets (5620 Paseo del Notre, Carlsbad) has 90 stores that feature such designer names as Barneys New York, Kenneth Cole, and Polo Ralph Lauren, and the complex is located in an attractive setting next to the Carlsbad Flower Fields.

With its crunchy, granola vibe and progressive politics, Ocean Beach, or OB, takes its share of flak from San Diego's more conservative residents, but nobody can say that its residents, lovingly called Obeceans, don't know how to party. Just witness the Wednesday afternoon at the Ocean Beach Farmer's Market (4900 block of Newport Ave), which not only fills the town's main drag with dozens of fresh fruit, produce, and specialty goods vendors, it also offers live music and llama rides for the kids.

Started in 1976 with just 200 shoppers, Kobey's Swap Meet (3500 Sports Arena Blvd) has ballooned into the third-largest, open-air flea market in on the West Coast, drawing more than 30,000 people to its Mission Bay site every weekend. Its hours are 7 am to 3 pm Friday through Sunday.

San Diego's nightlife is teeming with trendy clubs, pool halls, sports bars, and even bowling alleys -- something for everyone. Keep reading to learn more about the after-hours scene in San Diego.