Best Shopping Malls and Centers in San Diego

San Diego's 10 best shopping malls and shopping centers

As many residents will tell you, the San Diego shopping scene keeps getting better and better. Major shopping malls have experienced aesthetic facelifts and the addition of more chic brands. Pockets of shopping scattered throughout the county are also worth a visit.

Westfield UTC's renovation has received rave reviews with the addition of even more internationally-recognized brands and specialty dining, including San Diego's only Din Tai Fung. 

Fashion Valley is still a favorite as well. The two-story mall is anchored by the county's only Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's stores as well as Nordstrom and Macy's. In between the anchors, shoppers can find J.Crew, H&M, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Williams-Sonoma and other favorites.

La Jolla's Prospect Street, known as San Diego's "Rodeo Drive," offers dozens of shops featuring designer apparel, art and fine jewelry. Shoppers will find mostly one-of-a-kind boutiques here though bigger brands such as Kate Spade, Lululemon and even Sur la Table are here.  

Almost anything you could possibly have the hankering to buy can be found in San Diego. Here are the best places to go to.


The colorful and whimsical architecture of Horton Plaza sets it apart from any shopping mall in the region. The complex has become somewhat of a San Diego icon since its construction in the 1980s. It is credited with jumpstarting the revival of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter and continues to appeal to visitors alike to this day. Within its confines you will find major retailers in addition to a wide array of shops, eateries, and restaurants, making it a popular noontime stop for downtown workers. The complex also boasts a movie complex and the Lyceum Theatre. It's been recently sold and its fate is in question, but it remains open for now and the best shopping mall in the downtown area.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For those in the downtown area, this is the best shopping option. The mall is outdoors and anchored by a Nordstrom.

Katie's expert tip: If parking in the structure, you'll need to validate your ticket (good for 3 hours free) at a machine inside the mall.

Read more about Horton Plaza →

This 14-acre waterfront village features over 50 specialty shops and galleries. Some of the items you'll find include handmade soaps, nautical collectibles, home accessories, magic tricks, jewelry, hot sauces, toys, sportswear, books, decorative tiles, kites, music boxes, coffee beans and hammocks. All the shopping may leave you a bit hungry but never fear. Dining options include gourmet restaurants, burger and pizza joints, ice cream shops and FROST ME gourmet cupcakes. The kids and non-shoppers are entertained by the carousel or various live performances set to a gorgeous backdrop of ocean water. Seaport Village now also includes the revitalized Headquarters for more upscale shopping and dining options.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: It is touristy but full of fun shops and walkable to the cruise terminal and many downtown San Diego hotels.

Katie's expert tip: In addition to shopping and dining, guests of Seaport Village also stumble upon live entertainment in the form of daily live jazz in the afternoon and holiday-themed events.

Read more about Seaport Village →

A favorite of locals and tourists for decades, San Diego's Old Town State Park not only offers a glimpse into the city's colorful past but houses a wide selection of specialty shops offering merchandise from all over the world, with an emphasis on goods from Mexico. The shopper can find everything from hand-painted clay pots, fine cigars, and Indian jewelry to Western wear and wide-brimmed sombreros. The Bazaar del Mundo complex houses nine shops with an emphasis on products from South of the Border. The Old Town Market encompasses about 40 shops selling an eclectic mix of merchandise from around the world.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: As the birthplace of California, Old Town is usually on a tourist itinerary.

Katie's expert tip: Most of the items are souvenir-like so this isn't where you come for a new outfit.

Read more about Old Town San Diego →


Cedros Avenue Design District is located in Solana Beach between the streets Via de la Valle and Lomas Santa Fe. Its 2 1/2 blocks consist of more than 85 shops, restaurants, spas and boutiques. You'll find everything from books, maternity clothes, pet supplies, home decor to jewelry. World-renowned architects and interior designers have offices here. On Sundays from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm, there's even a Farmer's Market at the south end. It's also within a quick walk of the Amtrak train station. Start at Claire's on Cedros for amazing pre-shopping pancakes. This area overall has a casual vibe.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Forget the mall, Cedros is a great place to casually shop for stylish gifts.

Katie's expert tip: Popular stores include Bixby & Ball for home decor, SoLo for books and gifts, and Mabel's for maternity and baby clothes.

Read more about Cedros Avenue Design District →

Prospect Street overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is lined with small specialty shops, boutiques, antique emporiums and art galleries. In addition to offering elegant, designer fashions in sophisticated apparel shops, La Jolla is also known for its exquisite and original fine jewelry with magnificent and brilliant gems. Detour from Prospect Street to the shops on Girard where local favorites including Warwick's book store, Adelaide's and even some brand name labels like Kate Spade and Lululemon. Other fun boutiques include Hi Sweetheart and Sweet Paper for gifts. For clothes look to Pomegranate and Lola. Shopping in La Jolla is rather low-key and easily done on one side of a meal. The famous seals are nearby, too.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Prospect Street is often referred to as San Diego's Rodeo Drive.

Katie's expert tip: If shopping in La Jolla, make sure to dine at one of the ocean view restaurants on Prospect Street.

Read more about La Jolla →

Flower Hill Promenade is a popular shopping area east of the I-5 freeway in Del Mar. Here, shoppers will find a low-key, easy to navigate, multi-level outdoor environment filled with specialty boutiques ranging from high-end cheese to cigars along to luggage and upscale women's clothing. Flower Hill not only has a brand new Whole Foods Market, but also the very popular CUCINA enoteca Italian restaurant, Nothing Bundt cakes and other places to grab a bite to eat. Stop into Sweetpea for children's clothing, Annmarie D'Ercole for some spectacular jewelry, or lipstick to feel good about at Katherine Natural Cosmetics.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Locals and visitors shop here for the one-of-a-kind inventory and outstanding service at the clothing boutiques.

Katie's expert tip: There's a parking structure behind Whole Foods so don't get discouraged if the lot seems full when you drive in.

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San Diego's Little Italy is a delightful combination of urban chic coupled with the history and tradition of Italian and Sicilian immigrants who settled on its shores in the early 20th century. It hosts two major festivals each year: the Sicilian Festival in May and the Little Italy Festa in October. It's a colorful and festive district that's fun just to stroll through, but if shopping is on your radar, there are numerous art galleries, home decor stores and even antique dealers. Italian eateries predominate, of course, but there are plenty of alternatives if your appetite leans toward other cuisines.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Spending the day in Little Italy browsing boutiques and noshing on the city's best Italian food should be on everyone's itinerary.

Katie's expert tip: Need inspiration around the home? Lots of awesome antique and home decor shops are located here.

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The Carlsbad Premium Outlets are located just west of The Flower Fields and east of the I-5, near LEGOLAND. This outlet mall has over 90 stores and restaurants offering an average savings of between 25%-65% off of retail prices. Sometimes, you can even find current season merchandise at a discount. Popular outlet stores include Barney's New York, Banana Republic, Gap, Stride Rite, Coach, Skechers and Crate and Barrel. There's plenty of fast-casual dining including a Ruby's Diner, Rubio's and Blaze Pizza. There is plenty of parking around the mall and even a handful of stores like St. John now across the street.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: It's the only outlet mall in North County San Diego with brands such as Barney's and Kate Spade.

Katie's expert tip: Make sure to join the mall's VIP club to receive a booklet of discounts at various stores.

Read more about Carlsbad Premium Outlets →

Fashion Valley, centrally-located in San Diego's Mission Valley district, is a shopper's delight because of its 200+ stores and restaurants, and outdoor ambiance. The mall houses Macy's, Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Bloomingdales, and San Diego's only Neiman Marcus in addition to luxe names like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Henri Bendel and others. Excellent outdoor cafes and restaurants are also interspersed throughout the complex. The mall is constantly updated to include hot brand names and boasts a wide variety of stores. Whether you need a designer dress for a black tie affair or a kid's birthday present, you can find it here. Be sure to sign up for the mobile shopper club to be notified of deals by text.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: This is still a top choice for those seeking out high-end designer brands.

Katie's expert tip: Go before lunch as this mall can get crowded during weekends and holidays. Or, be prepared to valet.

Read more about Fashion Valley →

Westfield UTC is an upscale, open-air shopping complex located in San Diego's Golden Triangle, west of La Jolla. Macy's and Nordstrom are anchors but the last year has brought in many more chic international brands. Shop high-end favorites like Tiffany & Co, J.Crew, Jo Malone or fast-fashion in the massive new H&M store. Multiple seating areas including tons of succulent walls, sculptures and chic furniture make it a place where people actually want to hang out. In addition, enjoy the upscale movie theater, new parking structure, fitness outlets, live music and more. Restaurants include Tender Greens, Shake Shack, Great Maple, Larsen's Steakhouse, Din Tai Fung, Joe and the Juice and others. There's even a speakeasy.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: The mall's massive renovation added more stores, revitalized common areas, and great restaurants to make it more of a lifestyle destination.

Katie's expert tip: Plan to eat. Many popular restaurants opened up outlets here like Shake Shack, Queenstown Public House and Din Tai Fung.

Read more about Westfield UTC mall →


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