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Shopping in San Diego

San Diego is dotted with major shopping centres and upscale boutiques catering to nearly every style of dress and expression. Visitors can find everything from funky clothes for the hip and young to bijouterie for the Rolls-Royce set. Downtown, Horton Plaza is a brightly coloured mall with shops such as Nordstrom, J. Crew and BCBG.

The Bazaar del Mundo Shops in Old Town, on the corner of Taylor and Juan streets, is a good place to look for crafts and clothing. Seaport Village has the pleasant air of an old-time fishing village – but with specialty shops and restaurants. The rich and famous head straight for the exclusive boutiques on La Jolla's Prospect Street and Girard Avenue – some to buy, some to have fun just looking. Also try Kobey's Swap Meet, a flea market with merchandise ranging from exotic imports to trash.

Shopping hours are generally Monday-Saturday 10 am-5 or 6 pm, Sunday 11 am-5 or 6 pm. Larger malls and shopping centres are usually open until 8 or 9 pm Monday-Saturday.

Places to Shop

Downtown, Gaslamp Quarter & Little Italy

Space is at a premium in the Gaslamp Quarter, and although only a few intrepid shops made the initial commitment to open among the area's multitudinous eateries, in the past few years a number of wonderfully individualistic stores have opened on lower Fourth and Fifth avenues.

A few standouts include Splash, 226 Fifth Avenue, where you'll find all manner of handmade soap products, from Mary Jane hemp and Adam and St. Eve fig oil and brown-sugar soap bars to Almond Joy massage bars. Almost next door is La Fragance, 236 Fifth Avenue, where you can create your own perfume or other fragrance products ranging from exfoliants to bubble bath to body lotions.

At Lucky Dog Pet Boutique, 557 Fourth Avenue, you'll find supplies swank or chic – collars, snacks, soaps, bowls – for your pet. Kita Ceramics & Glassware, 517 Fourth Avenue, stocks fine Japanese pottery and colourful Italian glass products. Just north of Broadway is City Centre Sports Collectibles, 1045 Sixth Avenue, where memorabilia from all types of sports is found, including autographs, pennants, apparel and programs.

For serious art, design and home furnishings, you should head to Little Italy. The conglomeration of hip stores and galleries along Kettner Boulevard, from Laurel to Date Streets, has become known as the Kettner Art and Design District. Among the highlights are Vetro for vintage glass art; Mixture for modern furniture and accessories; and David Zapf Gallery and Scott White Contemporary Art, two of the city's most prominent galleries.

As the number of downtown condos multiplies, watch for shopping to diversify. Otherwise, browsing is primarily concentrated in two destination malls.

Hillcrest & Uptown

Compact Hillcrest is an ideal shopping destination. As the hub of San Diego's gay and lesbian community, swank inspiration and chic housewares rule. There are plenty of establishments selling cool trinkets, used books, vintage clothing and memorabilia, and of course, bakeries and cafes. You'll also find many modestly priced dining options.

There's no defined zone in which shops are found, so you may as well start at the neighbourhood's axis, the overrun intersection of University and Fifth avenues. From this corner the greatest concentration of boutiques spreads for 1 or 2 blocks in each direction, but farther east on University, between 10th Avenue and Vermont Street, you'll find good options along the south side of the street, and on the north side a small shopping complex with several choice bets.

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