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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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Featured Hotels


Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Set smack at the foot of Fifth Avenue, across the street from the San Diego Convention Center at the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter, the 12-story Hard Rock attracts awe-struck sightseers ogling The Rock Shop (collectable Hard Rock gear), Nobu (chef Nobu Matsuhisa's entree into the SoCal dining scene), Maryjane's diner-style coffee shop and the Sweetwater Saloon - a sidewalk bar by day and happening dance club at night. Guests in the 420 rooms and suites are greeted with their choice of music drifting from speakers on the flat screen HDTVs. Red leather chairs and low white couches, swirly patterned rugs and square showerheads in the ceilings set a fun-loving mood, enhanced by Sleep Like a Rock beds.

Tower 23

Named for the lifeguard tower it faces, this ultra-hip Pacific Beach hotel has 44 slick rooms with rain showers, Egyptian cotton bedding, LCD screen TVs and H2O toiletries. Some suites overlook the boardwalk and beach and have private balconies. Wi-Fi is available throughout the property - checking your e-mail from a cafe table by the sand is just about as SoCal techie as you can get. The hotel's JRDN restaurant serves the freshest regional seafood and produce in a casual setting.

Town and Country Resort

The resort features 1,000 guestrooms, four swimming pools and whirlpool, five restaurants and three lounges, in addition to 16 hectares (40 acres) of beautifully landscaped grounds. There is also a spa, salon and fitness centre. The 27-hole Riverwalk Golf Club and Mission Valley Regional Conference Center are adjacent. Premier shopping is also available nearby.

Inn at the Park

This historic hotel in San Diego, formerly the Park Manor Suites Hotel, occupies a gorgeous seven-storey Italian Renaissance style building in the heart of Balboa Park, adjacent to the Hillcrest neighbourhood. The structure was built in 1926 and designated a historical site by the City of San Diego in 1991. It is situated on the west edge of Balboa Park and offers sweeping views of San Diego Bay, Downtown and Hillcrest. All suites come with full kitchens and dinettes. Deluxe continental breakfast is on offer every morning.

Omni San Diego

A sky bridge connects the tasteful Omni with Petco Park's baseball stadium and a nearby pedestrian crossing makes the walk from the hotel to the Convention Center easy. Baseball memorabilia fills display cases in public spaces. Corner rooms on the east side have a spot-on view of the ballpark; others overlook the Convention Center and bay. The 511 rooms are sensibly and comfortably designed and the outdoor pool with fireplace is the favourite hangout. A McCormick & Schmick's restaurant serves decent seafood.

Hotel Solamar

A member of the hip Kimpton Hotel group, the 10-storey Hotel Solamar is a modern, stylish hotel in San Diego located in East Village, just one block from the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. Excellent both for leisure and business, this 4-star hotel is artfully designed with 235 guestrooms characterised by modern, clean sophistication. A fourth-floor patio houses an outdoor splash pool with the poolside Jbar featuring DJ music and cabana seating at night. The hotel's Jsix Restaurant serves Asian-inspired Californian cuisine.