12 Best Malls & Shopping Areas in San Diego

San Diego is a shopper’s paradise. Here is our list of the best malls and shopping centers in San Diego so you can shop until you drop. Plus our favorite mall!
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
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Seaport Village in the EmbarcaderoArt Sculpture next to Shops at UTC Mall

Looking to shop until you drop, pick up some souvenirs, grab a few essentials you forgot to pack in your suitcase, or you are just a local looking to find a good shopping experience? San Diego has plenty of amazing malls where you will certainly have an incredible day.

Many of these malls offer more than just great bargains or high-end designer pieces. The best malls also provide an entertaining day out with the family, elevating them past simple shopping centers to full-on attractions.

Not sure where to start on your San Diego shopping trip? We’ve compiled a list of the best malls in San Diego that are perfect for a day out.

Sunset at the Koi Pond at Westfield UTC Mall
Sunset at the Koi Pond at Westfield UTC Mall

The Method Behind the Magic of Our Ultimate List of San Diego Malls

In our updated 2024 best malls in San Diego list, our team worked together to not only add a few new malls, but this time we also included shopping areas.

As an added bonus, we ranked our top 12 favorite malls and shopping centers in order, wasting no time in starting the list off with our absolute favorite mall in all of San Diego!

Local Tips
Seaport Village a Must!
Seaport Village, a 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex along San Diego Bay, recreates a California harbor setting of a century ago.

Delicious meals are steps away from a shopping spree at the Westfield UTC Mall when you visit Din Tai Fung restaurant, a local favorite Chinese restaurant originated in Taiwan. Feel like you’re touring Asia with Todd as he takes in the atmosphere and samples the authentic cuisine.

Go on a Food Tour

The 12 Best Malls in San Diego - Ranked!

In this list of my top shopping malls in San Diego, I’ve focused on malls that offer more than just shopping experiences. For me, a mall is about the ambiance, the dining options, and the array of activities available.

I’ve ordered this list to highlight the best of the best right up top, starting with my favorite San Diego mall, but even the later picks are still well worth a visit!

Local Tips
Westfield UTC Mall, the Best!
Westfield UTC or UTC Mall is hands down the best mall in San Diego. This newly redone mall offers everything from great shopping to entertainment and amazing restaurants. It is a must go!

Famous Artists Sculptures Inside of UTC Mall
Famous Artists Sculptures Inside of UTC Mall

1) Westfield UTC Mall - San Diego

Shopping in San Diego: Westfield UTC Mall San Diego
Address:
4545 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA 92122

Westfield’s UTC Mall is one of the most popular malls in the San Diego area, and my personal favorite shopping area in San Diego!

Directions to the Westfield UTC Mall San Diego

The mall is conveniently located in the University Town Center area of University City, just east of La Jolla and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). It is easily accessible from downtown San Diego via the 5 and 805 freeways, and is the last stop on the UTC Trolley Blue Line.

A 2017 Renovation

This gorgeous open-air mall was recently renovated in 2017. The renovation transformed the mall into a dining and entertainment destination that cements it as a top pick for the best things to do in San Diego. The outdoor area is full of water fountains and cozy fire pits, and charming San Diego-themed art installations.

Real Life Snow Globe & Christmas Characters at UTC Mall
Real Life Snow Globe & Christmas Characters at UTC Mall

Holidays at the Mall

UTC transforms during the Christmas season, when they have an ice-skating rink, Christmas trees and Santa’s Village. This is featured in our Holiday Season Guide to San Diego Christmas Activities.

Amc Movie Theater at Westfield UTC Mall
Amc Movie Theater at Westfield UTC Mall

An AMC Theater & Plenty of Incredible Stores

The mall also has an AMC movie theater (called AMC UTC 14), a play space for kids, and a dog park. The movie theater offers an upscale experience with both blockbuster and independent movies.

The selection of shops is excellent, with designer and budget fashion brands, tech retailers, beauty brands, toy stores, bookstores, and much more. Nordstrom and Macy’s are the anchor department stores here, but there are also over 100 boutique options to choose from.

Loving the Kurobuta Pork Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung at the Westfield UTC Mall
Loving the Kurobuta Pork Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung at the Westfield UTC Mall

UTC’s Incredible Dining & Drink Options

The UTC Mall is also known for its incredible dining. Expect premium steakhouses, charming cafes, and global cuisines. Many popular local restaurants have outposts here, including Din Tai Fung, Eureka, Queenstown Bistro and more.

Adults can even enjoy specialty cocktails, wine, and beer at the mall’s excellent array of bars. One of the most lauded bars here is Raised By Wolves, a speakeasy that focuses on vintage cocktails and even hosts mixology classes.

One of the Side Streets in Little Italy
One of the Side Streets in Little Italy

2) Shopping in Little Italy

Neighborhood: Little Italy San Diego

Best known for its restaurant scene, San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood is also an incredible shopping destination.

Tasty Dining & a Unique Shopping Experience

Though it’s not a traditional mall, the stores of Little Italy are just as fun to browse, with plenty of unique and trendy options. Between stores selling handcrafted jewelry, home goods, and fashionable clothing, you’ll also find cute cafes and coffee shops. These stores line the Piazza della Famiglia, a cobblestone plaza with a fountain centerpiece that evokes the imagery of Italy.

Mr Trustee Creamery in Little Italy
Mr Trustee Creamery in Little Italy

This is also a highly walkable neighborhood with great views of the San Diego Bay from Waterfront Park, plus the nearby Maritime Museum in the San Diego Bay.

Santa's Workshop during Christmas at Fashion Valley Mall
Santa's Workshop during Christmas at Fashion Valley Mall

3) Fashion Valley Mall

Shopping in San Diego: Fashion Valley Mall
Address:
7007 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92108

The Fashion Valley Mall is one of San Diego’s most luxurious malls, and it’s featured in our article The Best Things to Do in San Diego.

Where You’ll Find Fashion Valley Mall

The mall is conveniently located in the Mission Valley area of San Diego, just off the 8 freeway. This mall also has its own stop on the San Diego Trolley green line.

Urban Outfiters at Fashion Valley Mall
Urban Outfiters at Fashion Valley Mall

More Than Just Designer Stores

While the Fashion Valley Mall is known for its designer stores like Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, you’ll also find more affordable clothing stores, beauty boutiques, and electronic stores. The upper level of the mall has an airy outdoor food court, and there are also upscale restaurants located around the mall.

The AMC Theater at night at Fashion Valley Mall
The AMC Theater at night at Fashion Valley Mall

A Movie Theater and More Amenities

Like many malls in San Diego, Fashion Valley has a movie theater. There are also many amenities available, including a children’s play area, electric vehicle charging stations, and valet services.

The mall has an elegant open-air design with fountains and seating located throughout the mall.

Ana Taylor Factory Store at Carslbad Premium Outlets
Ana Taylor Factory Store at Carslbad Premium Outlets

4) Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Shopping in San Diego: Carlsbad Premium Outlets
Address:
5620 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008

The San Diego area has a few excellent options for outlet shopping and the Carlsbad Premium Outlets are my favorite outlets in San Diego!

Finding the Carlsbad Premium Outlets

The Carlsbad Premium Outlets are approximately a half-hour drive north of downtown San Diego and offer a luxurious outlet experience. They are located directly off the 5 freeway in Carlsbad and are also a short Uber ride from the Carlsbad Poinsettia Coaster rail station.

Designer Stores at Bargain Prices

Carlsbad Outlets has the feel of a high-end fashion mall, but with the incredible deals of an outlet mall. Many top designer brands have outposts in the outlet mall where you can get coveted pieces at affordable prices.

Rubys Have Good Burgers at Carslbad Premium Outlets
Rubys Have Good Burgers at Carslbad Premium Outlets

Dining Options and Incredible Ambience

There are casual, family-friendly dining options located throughout the mall.

The mall’s outdoor spaces are beautifully decorated with flowers and plenty of seating. The south end of the outlet mall also has access to Carlsbad’s iconic flower fields, which light up with color during the spring.

Peets Coffee Shop in the Village of La Jolla
Peets Coffee Shop in the Village of La Jolla

5) Shopping in Downtown La Jolla

Shopping in San Diego: Shopping in Downtown La Jolla

Though not technically a traditional mall, downtown La Jolla is one of San Diego’s best places to shop, especially in the Village of La Jolla area. There are tons of boutique stores, many of which sell a range of handcrafted and bohemian-themed goods.

Sculpture Outside the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla
Sculpture Outside the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

La Jolla Offers Shopping and A Lot More

Alongside the surf shops and unique souvenir stores, downtown also has attractions, from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s La Jolla location to beaches like La Jolla Cove and The Children’s Pool. Whether you’re renting a surfboard or buying museum tickets, use our discount code GVSD5OFF when buying a Go City San Diego pass to save so you can budget more for shopping!

Entrance to the Grande Colonial La Jolla
Entrance to the Grande Colonial La Jolla

Stay in La Jolla Village

If you want to maximize your shopping time and stay nearby, I suggest you consider the Grande Colonial La Jolla, which is close to both the stores of downtown La Jolla and La Jolla’s beaches.

Don’t Forget the Farmer’s Market

The La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market is one of my favorite places to take my family on a Sunday morning.

Featured as one of the best farmers markets in San Diego, the market, along with another one of my favorites in the Saturday Little Italy Mercato Farmers' Market, is a great place to shop for produce and locally made products of all types.

Bayside Boardwalk next to Seaport Village
Bayside Boardwalk next to Seaport Village

6) Seaport Village

Shopping in San Diego: Seaport Village
Address:
849 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

This charming mall is designed to resemble an old fishing village. It sits right on the shore of the San Diego Bay and has beautiful views of both the water and the downtown skyline.

How to Find the Seaport Village

Seaport Village is located on the west end of downtown San Diego in the Embarcadero. You'll find it directly at the end of the Pacific Highway and also has its own stop on the San Diego Trolley green line.

Just a little to the north is the USS Midway Museum, another excellent attraction that’s part of the All-inclusive Go City San Diego pass, where you can learn about naval history. With so many things to do, Seaport Village is more than just a great mall; it’s also one of the best things to do in San Diego.

Mr Moto Pizza in Seaport Village with a View of the San Diego Bay
Mr Moto Pizza in Seaport Village with a View of the San Diego Bay

A Local and One-of-a-Kind Shopping Experience

The village has charming local shops that are an ideal place to find souvenirs. They also have a selection of excellent restaurants to enjoy, many of which focus on seafood. Families will also enjoy the vintage carousel in the center of the village.

Events at Seaport Village

In addition to the shopping and dining, Seaport Village hosts a number of events throughout the year. This includes live music, art festivals, and street performers. No matter where you visit, there will likely be a performance going on for you to enjoy, whether it’s a musician, dancers, or even magicians.

The Shopps at Carlsbad
The Shopps at Carlsbad

7) The Shoppes at Carlsbad

Shopping in San Diego: The Shoppes at Carlsbad
Address:
2525 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 92008

The Shoppes at Carlsbad is a large mall just outside of the downtown Carlsbad area.

This mall is home to many popular department stores, including Sears, Macy’s, and JCPenney. You’ll also find specialty fashion, beauty, tech, and children’s retailers.

How Best to Get to the Shoppes at Carlsbad

They are located just off the I-5 freeway at Ronald Packard Parkway. The Carlsbad Village Coaster train station is a short bus or cab ride away.

I Love Carlsbad at the Shopps at Carlsbad
I Love Carlsbad at the Shopps at Carlsbad

Dining, a Movie Theater, Gym & More!

This mall has a large food court as well as several standalone restaurants and bars. Many of the restaurants here are San Diego local favorites. There is also a Dave and Buster’s, which offers dining and arcade games, as well as a movie theater and a gym.

The Shoppes at Carlsbad is two stories tall and has both indoor and outdoor areas. There is a children’s play area on the second floor as well as plenty of seating throughout. There is also free WiFi throughout the mall.

Kids Fountain at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center
Kids Fountain at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center

8) Del Mar Highlands Town Center

Shopping in San Diego: Del Mar Highlands Town Center
Address:
12925 El Camino Real, Del Mar, CA 92130

In the northern San Diego suburb of Del Mar is the Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

Getting to the Mall

The mall is located on Del Mar Heights Road, just off of the 5 freeway. The mall is roughly a 30-minute drive north of downtown San Diego.

Stores with a Focus on Entertainment

This two-story shopping center has a range of retail stores, restaurants, and local services, many of which are family-oriented. The mall puts extra emphasis on entertainment, with a movie theater, regular live music performances, and play areas with water fountains located throughout the mall.

The Del Mar Highlands Town Center prides itself on being a comfortable place to hang out, with plenty of seating and cozy outdoor fire pits. They even have free WiFi, and are totally pet and kid-friendly.

Inside the North County Mall
Inside the North County Mall

9) North County Mall

Shopping in San Diego: North County Mall
Address:
272 E Via Rancho Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92025

Another excellent mall from the Westfield company, the North County Mall is located in the San Diego suburb of Escondido.

Details on Where the Mall is Located

You’ll find the mall directly off Interstate 15 on Via Rancho Parkway. The mall is approximately a half-hour north by car of downtown San Diego.

Vans Store at the North County Mall
Vans Store at the North County Mall

Exclusive Stores and Dining Just for North County Mall

North County Mall is home to many popular department stores as well as smaller specialty retailers. This mall has several unique stores where you can find things such as surf wear, candles, Japanese toys, and more. The mall also has beauticians and a gym.

There are several excellent dining options at North County Mall, including several familiar chain restaurants. The atmosphere is family-friendly, with play areas and events for kids throughout the year. Free WiFi is also available.

Entrance to Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town
Entrance to Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town

10) Shopping in Old Town San Diego

Shopping in San Diego: Shopping in Old Town San Diego

San Diego’s Old Town neighborhood has many excellent places to shop as you walk along its streets and admire the historic landmarks and architecture.

Enjoying a Margarita Flight at Cafe Coyote in Old Town
Enjoying a Margarita Flight at Cafe Coyote in Old Town

Locally Owned Uniquely San Diego Souvenirs

Old Town Market features 40 shops, many of which are boutique and locally-owned, plus great Mexican restaurants. This is one of the best areas to pick up some unique souvenirs.

There’s also Fiesta de Reyes, an outdoor shopping center filled with vibrant Spanish Colonial-inspired decorations, plus a variety of stores along San Diego Avenue, which is also where the Whaley House Museum is located.

Looking up at the Whaley House Museum
Looking up at the Whaley House Museum

Plaza Palmera at Las Americas Premium Outlets
Plaza Palmera at Las Americas Premium Outlets

11) Las Americas Premium Outlets

Shopping in San Diego: Las Americas Premium Outlets
Address:
4211 Camino De La Plaza, San Diego, CA 92173

If you’re staying near the California / Mexico border in Chula Vista or Imperial Beach, make sure to check out Las Americas Premium Outlets during your stay.

The Southernmost Mall in San Diego

These outlets are located just off the 5 and 805 freeways in San Ysidro, and are also very close to the last stop on the San Diego Trolley blue line.

The outlet mall is very similar to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets and are managed by the same company. There’s an excellent selection of high-end and designer brands as well as more affordable options, including plenty of stores for kids and teens. Each store offers low prices with excellent deals.

Delicious Mexican Tacos Food Truck at Las Americas Premium Outlets
Delicious Mexican Tacos Food Truck at Las Americas Premium Outlets

Dining and Outdoor Spaces

Las Americas also has plenty of casual dining options, including several Mexican options as a nod to the area’s culture.

As with most malls in San Diego, the mall has an abundance of well-maintained outdoor space and seating, decorated with palm trees, water fountains, and Christmas lights.

AMC Theater at the Westfield Mission Valley Mall
AMC Theater at the Westfield Mission Valley Mall

12) Westfield Mission Valley Mall

Shopping in San Diego: Westfield Mission Valley
Address:
1640 Camino Del Rio N., San Diego, CA 92108

Just east of the Fashion Valley mall is the Westfield Mission Valley mall, another popular shopping destination.

How to Find the Mall

Like Fashion Valley, the Mission Valley mall is accessible via the 8 freeway or by the San Diego Trolley green line.

Bath and Body Works at the Westfield Mission Valley
Bath and Body Works at the Westfield Mission Valley

An Affordable Shopping Experience

While Fashion Valley is known for its luxury brands, the Westfield Mission Valley has more accessible priced stores with great deals. They also have a large movie theater and plenty of dining options.

Many of the stores in Mission Valley focus more on entertainment than fashion, with electronics, toys, books, and more to pursue.

Outdoor Spaces and Parking

The Mission Valley mall has plenty of parking with the option for a valet. The outdoor areas are bright, spacious, and clean, making it a pleasant place for a stroll.

Enjoy Art with Go City Pass!
Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla is home to an array of art from the region that range from paintings to photography to sculptures. With your Go City Pass, enjoy these exhibitions and art installations by new up-and-coming artists.
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Local Tips
What’s the best Go City San Diego pass to maximize savings?

Families often choose unlimited admission and save up to 55% with the All-Inclusive pass when they visit just 2 attractions per day over 1, 2, 3 or 5 days.

Locals who prefer flexibility as they go often chose the Explorer Pass and save up to 60% off normal ticket prices.

Want to save more? Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

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