The Seaside Town of Del Mar: A Boutique Shopper's Paradise

Seaside Del Mar is only about 2 miles square in size but what awaits shoppers is the creme de la creme of stores. There are no major malls here and very few chain stores. Rather, boutiques galore ranging from high-end children's wear to gifts and accessories for the entire family are what you'll find. To keep things simple, we're highlighting shops in these two major shopping areas.

Del Mar Plaza is the central hub of the downtown area, just a few blocks away from the beach. Because the open-air plaza faces west, it's an ideal place to watch the sunset or really take in ocean breezes any time of the day. Here you'll find a collection of restaurants and high-end shops. Urban Girl Accessories is located here.

Flower Hill Promenade is east of the I-5 freeway and constantly adding new stores and restaurants. It's an outdoor shopping area that's walkable in a few minutes from end-to-end but dense with specialty stores ranging from gourmet cheeses to designer luggage to souvenirs. It's also now anchored by a Whole Foods Market and Sweetpea Children's Shop is located here on the ground floor.

Whatever you're looking for, Del Mar has it without the crowds of a major shopping mall.



Matti D is a high-end women's boutique located east of the freeway in Del Mar that is full of gorgeously hand-crafted items. Local fashionistas shop here for unique pieces and designer items with a sophisticated yet whimsical flair. This is a great place to go for special occasions or if you need personal styling. Yes, it is expensive and caters to nearby affluent Rancho Santa Fe, but devotees believe purchases are worth every penny and go here to put together timeless, trendsetting outfit complete with accessories. Matti D is located across the street from Flower Hill Promenade in the Albertson's shopping center.



Ladies, if you're staying in Del Mar and happen to forgot to pack your bathing suit, head to Julie's near 15th street. Julie is pretty much a one woman show who owns, manages and works in the shop. She'll help you select the right fit for you based on your body type and style. She stocks swimwear that you don't often see in department stores that comes straight from Europe or Brazil so this is also the place to come for a one-of-a-kind piece. Julie even stocks gorgeous maternity swimwear and cover-ups. There's no menswear here. Park on the street.



Durante's Menswear has been in business for over 30 years in Del Mar. In fact, it was the first menswear store in the area back then. The clothes strike a nice balance between beach casual and formal wear making them perfect for dinner out at Del Mar Plaza. Durante's also has an excellent reputation for customer service for those who might need a little extra help putting an outfit together. Therefore, customers are extremely loyal, many of whom began shopping there when the store first opened. Expect to find shirts, trousers, jackets, coats, outerwear, shoes, hats and other accessories. You get what you pay for here.



Carolyn's Designer resale shop has been in business since 1983 selling high end designer labels for less. People bring in Prada, Gucci and other high-end items that they're not going to wear anymore and Carolyn's sells them to people who appreciate them. It's an eco-friendly way to purge the closet in a discreet manner. If you'd like to consign, there's a form online you can fill out to tell them about your items. Be mindful that though it's resale, the clothes can still be expensive, but prices are certainly less than at a department store for the same item brand new.



Gerhard is women's clothing store located in the Del Mar Plaza, with another location in Solana Beach. Gerhard carries many designer labels that people would normally have to drive to the mall for, and to be honest, San Diego malls don't have the variety of high-end labels that LA and Orange County malls do. Locals consider it the best women's boutique in San Diego with luxury brands like martin margiela, Derek Lam, Giuseppe Zanotti, Lanvin and more. Styles are chic and classy. Find handbags, accessories, sunglasses, women's clothing, and even some bath accessories. The owner is known for his keen eye and for letting clients know when things look fabulous or don't, even at the expense of a sale.



Get your credit card ready as you can do some serious damage here buying up designer labels for children. The clothes and accessories are stunning and reminiscent of a place you'd imagine the Hollywood elite to shop. The store offers everything from clothing to moses baskets and diaper bags. Find imported brands such as Escada, Monna Lisa, Miniman, Burberry, Lili Gaufrette and Petit Bateau or domestic brands such as J M Originals, Lipstik and Mimi & Maggie. They offer complimentary gift wrapping and can ship items via UPS. Sweetpea Children's Shop is located on the ground floor of Flower Hill Promenade.



Del Mar Plaza is the anchor of downtown Del Mar with its award-winning restaurants and upscale boutiques. No stay in the area is complete without a visit to the plaza for one reason or another. Most of the restaurants hear have stunning ocean views, especially during sunset as the plaza faces west. Pair that with a margarita at Pacifica or a glass of wine on the patio at Flavor. Smashburger offers a quick and easy gourmet burger to go. There's a Banana Republic here but otherwise small boutiques with unique or designer labels are what shoppers are most likely to find here.



This store is adorable. Go here to find gifts for pretty much all ages that are practical, witty and stylish. As the name implies, the boutique is full of accessories but it's not just jewelry on offer. They have an enormous selection of TOMS SHOES for both kids and adults as well as bathing suit cover-ups, stocking stuffer-type gifts, Havianas flip flips, lotions and more. Gifts here can fit every budget from low to high. It's located on the ground floor of Del Mar Plaza and open from 9:00am-9:00pm every day. They also have a location in Seaport Village and an online store.



Flower Hill Promenade is an ever-expanding shopping area east of the I-5 freeway in Del Mar. Here, shoppers will find a low-key, easy to navigate outdoor area filled with specialty boutiques ranging from high-end cheese to cigars along with luggage and upscale women's clothing. Flower Hill has a new Whole Foods Market, a Pangea Outpost merchant marketplace (perfect for small gifts), Nothing Bundt cakes and other places to grab a bite to eat. CUCINA enoteca anchors one end of the parking lot with the famous Milton's Deli at the other end. Stop into Sweetpea for kids' clothing (also on this list), too.



Shoppers seeking unique, handmade jewelry pieces need not look any further. Annmarie's personal jewelry line is called D'Ercole and offers pieces ranging from hammered gold tear drop earrings to rose gold and crystal band rings to white sapphire fleur de lis and emblem layered charm necklaces. The style of the boutique is casual, beach chic with also plenty of denim and colorful clothing to choose from. The store is small and quaint but it is literally bursting with options. Shopping here is a sure way to stand out from the typical chain store looks. Guests also rave about customer service and you may also buy pieces online.


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie