Shopping in San Diego

San Diego has several distinctive shopping areas. Typical Californian gifts range from T-shirts (a Southern Californian favourite) to expensive artwork from one of the area's many art galleries. A bottle of California wine is always a popular choice.

Key areas

Hillcrest is where visitors can find local grocery stores and funky gift shops. Little Italy, Downtown, offers a tasteful selection of shops that are focused around Mediterranean cooking and culture.

San Diego, like most Californian cities, has a wide range of supermarkets and speciality food stores. Ralphs and Vons are only two of the major markets and are located conveniently in most residential districts. Both are generally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Alternative grocers including Trader Joe's, Henry's and Barons Market have a wide range of gourmet produce, cheese and wines.


There are a number of farmers' markets scattered across San Diego County. Among the most popular is in Ocean Beach, where Newport Avenue is closed to traffic on Wednesday 1600-2000, when vendors sell everything from organic veggies and bundles of flowers to incense and tie-dyed T-shirts.

Shopping centres

Built to take advantage of Southern California's sunny weather, Horton Plaza, at Fourth Avenue and F Street, Downtown, is one of San Diego's more compact shopping malls, with a bright, airy interior that is built in multiple levels and designed for easy accessibility. Fashion Valley, 7007 Friars Road, features many upscale shops including Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Burberry and Bose.

San Diego is a book-lover's paradise with several excellent specialist bookshops. One of the oldest and largest is La Jolla’s Warwick's, 7812 Girard Avenue, which has roots dating back to 1896. Three storeys packed with second-hand and new books on all kinds of topics should keep any bibliophile happy for hours. D.G. Wills , 7461 Girard Avenue in La Jolla is popular with scholars from nearby universities. Southern California's New Age vibe thrives at Controversial Bookstore, 3063 University Avenue.

Opening hours

Most shops are open Monday to Saturday 0800-2100, and Sunday 1100-1800, although hours will vary.

Tax information

Sales tax stands at 7.75% in San Diego. There are duty-free stores located in San Ysidro, directly south of San Diego, via I-5, at the US-Mexican border. These stores are tremendously popular and offer a wide selection of products for reduced prices. California sales tax is non-refundable.

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