Sign Up
Cruisetrend helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
  • Port Detail
  • Photo & Video
  • Ports Review
Located on the southern coast of California, San Diego makes a perfect location to start and end your cruise vacation. Offering beautiful weather year-round, more than 70 miles of pristine beaches, world-class attractions. However lack of itinerary options from the West Coast. For seven-night cruises, Mexico or Pacific Coast cruises are the only options; while Hawaii has proved popular with cruisers, it's only accessible on a longer cruise, as is the Panama Canal. And, with current laws preventing foreign-flagged ships from sailing itineraries that feature only U.S. ports, Hawaii and Pacific Coast cruises necessitate out-of-the-way stops in Canada or Mexico, making for somewhat awkward itineraries. Unlike cruises out of New York or Florida with multiple itinerary options (Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, even Atlantic Canada), ships on the West Coast have limited choices and few ways to entice repeat cruisers with new cruise destinations. 

Pre or Post your cruise vacation,  If you want the most fabulous and extensive collection of beaches in the United States, be certain to visit San Diego. Featuring seventy miles of glorious coastline and pleasant temperatures all year, San Diego is a great place for tourists. Among many other activities, San Diego is a prime spot for swimming, windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, bicycling, and skating. Balboa Park and three world-famous animal parks round out this magnificent city. The San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, and Sea World are all wildlife extravaganzas.

Over the past two decades, San Diego has exploded into a cultural mecca, filled with activities and tremendous diversity. Prior to that, this region had a reputation for being a quiet little Navy town. A huge naval base can be found in San Diego, and a lot of the military have their permanent homes in the city. But the influence of three major universities in the area has transformed San Diego into a lively town. The shopping, dining, and entertainment options expand exponentially annually, and there is no reason to think that this expansion will cease any time soon. In addition, San Diego is right near the Mexican border, and visitors often take a short side trip and venture south into Tijuana.
San Diego was the first city established in all of California, making it a rich center for state and national heritage. It is a significant region that should be recognized as such, and whenever tourists pass through, they appreciate its beauty and importance. In addition to the great beaches and pleasant dining establishments, a number of state-of-the-art facilities are springing up all over San Diego. Qualcomm Stadium is the home of the San Diego Chargers and the San Diego Padres. If you plan your trip to include a sporting event, you won't be disappointed.
The Embarcadero, downtown's bayside district, which includes the cruise port, is home to the Maritime Museum of San Diego and the USS Midway Museum. The Maritime Museum (1492 N. Harbor Drive; 619-234-9153; open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily) offers a renowned collection of historic ships including the magnificent Star of India, the oldest (1863) active sailing ship in the world. It's hard to miss the USS Midway Museum, just south of the cruise terminal (910 N. Harbor Drive; 619-544-9600; open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily). In the few years since the hulking WWII-era air craft carrier permanently docked in the city, it has become one of the region's top attractions. Vets and non-vets will enjoy the 60-plus exhibits and 30 restored aircraft parked on the flight deck and in the hanger bays.
Where You're Cruise Ship Dock
The San Diego Cruise Ship Terminal is conveniently located on the B Street Pier in downtown San Diego, a short distance from countless attractions. Cruise Ship Terminal in San Diego harbor at the bayside entrance to downtown. It's a 20-minute walk to the bustling Gaslamp Quarter and 15 minutes to trendy Little Italy or the novelty shops at Seaport Village.
The San Diego B Street Cruise Ship Terminal at 1140 North Harbor Drive [map and directions] is approximately ten minutes from San Diego International Airport and the Santa Fe Train Station. It also is easy to access from San Diego’s major freeway systems.
By Car
Driving North on Interstate 5: Take I-5 into downtown San Diego. Exit on Hawthorn (airport exit). Hawthorn Street steers west toward the San Diego Bay waterfront and Harbor Drive. At Harbor Drive, make a left. From that point, the cruise ship terminal is approximately one-fourth of a mile south on the right.
By Plane
For those arriving to San Diego by air, the terminal is a 10-minute ride from San Diego International Airport. An area devoted for taxicab pick-up is located just outside of the baggage claim areas of the airport’s two main terminals and commuter terminal.
A new service for passengers of select cruise lines allows them to skip baggage claim at the airport. Cruise line representatives will pick up guests’ checked items and deliver them directly to the ship. Please check with your cruise line or travel agent to arrange for this service.
By Train
Cruise passengers arriving in San Diego by way of Amtrak will be let off at the Santa Fe Depot station. The station is a short distance from the cruise terminal, so you may walk or take a taxi service to the terminal. For those choosing to walk, travel west on Broadway
San Diego's bus system is extensive and will take you to many of the most visited destinations in the city. There are over one hundred bus routes that traverse the city, and to learn more about them, contact The Transit Store (619/234-1060). You can take a taxi all around the city as well. There are many taxi companies in San Diego, but some of the best are Orange Cab (619/291-3333), La Jolla Cab (858/453-4222), and Coronado Cab Company (935/435-6211). Because San Diego is spread out over such a wide area, your best bet is probably to rent a car. Contact Avis (800/331-1212) to make arrangements.
Passengers arriving by personal vehicle may NOT park on the pier while on your cruise. 1140 N. Harbor Drive San Diego, California 92101, 619-686-6342
Things To See and Do
San Diego is the oldest town in California, founded in 1769. It has an enchanting natural beauty and a climate with plenty of sunshine. Of particular note are Balboa Park, home to the San Diego zoo and numerous museums, and more than 68 miles of beaches in and around the city.
Balboa Park
Balboa Park is over a 1400 acre site with historical buildings, numerous museums, gardens, and green space. The park was created for the Panama California Exhibition of 1915-1916 with most of the buildings in the park remaining from that event. The predominant architecture is Spanish-Mexican style, low level buildings that blend in with the natural surroundings. Among the highlights of the park are the Botanical Gardens and lily pond, the Museum of Man, the Museum of Natural History, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the famous San Diego Zoo. Even if you never go into a building the park is simply a beautiful place. Address: 1549 El Prado, Official site: http://www.balboapark.org/
SeaWorld San Diego is one of the city's main attractions, particularly for families. It is located along the waterfront in Mission Bay. For many American's SeaWorld has been a long time family tradition, having been around since the 1960s. Among the highlights are the myriad of shows featuring killer whales, sea lions, dolphins, and other sea life. There are all kinds of rides from roller coasters plowing into water, to more sedate carnival type rides for tots. SeaWorld is an aquarium that allows for close up looks at sharks and other sea creatures that can be seen through an acrylic tunnel, along with touch tanks, and close encounters with dolphins and inhabitants of tidal pools. Address: 500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego, CA 92109-7993, United States, Official site: http://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-sandiego.
San Diego Zoo
Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most famous zoos in the United States. The zoo has all kinds of exotic animals, including pandas which have been successfully bred here. It is spread out along a canyon, with many hills that can sometimes be challenging for visitors wandering through the site. The park prides itself on the Animal enclosures which are designed to recreate natural settings Address: 2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park Official site: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/
Gaslamp Quarter
In downtown San Diego is the Gaslamp Quarter National Historic District, an area of restored late 19th and early 20th Century Victorian buildings. Today the Gaslamp Quarter is a trendy area with shops, restaurants, and galleries, attracting locals and tourists. The area covers less than 20 blocks and runs approximately from Broadway to San Diego Bay. There are also a large number of upper end hotels that are popular with both tourists and business travelers due to its great location in the city. This area underwent restorations in the 1970s which eventually led to it being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Official site: http://www.gaslamp.org/

Seaport Village
San Diego's Seaport Village is a delightful place to stroll around and spend an afternoon. Located right on the waterfront this area of unique shops and restaurants is one of the city's must sees. Picnic tables, benches, and waterfront patios are sprinkled throughout the area and weekends can be very busy. Outdoor performers take to the stage regularly in the afternoons, some of which can be quite eclectic. The area is easily accessible on foot from many of the nearby attractions including the USS Midway. Since there is limited and expensive parking at Seaport Village, it may be best to park a little distance away and enjoy the stroll along the waterfront to the site. Address: West Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway, Official site: http://www.seaportvillage.com/

Old Town State Historic Park
The Old Town San Diego State Historic Park gives visitors a look at the town's Mexican and early American history, and offers opportunities for shopping and dining. It was probably founded in 1820 by demobilized Mexican soldiers who had done their military service at the Presidio or in the fort on Presidio Hill, both of which are located here. Many of the historic buildings, including numerous adobe houses, have been repaired. Also located here are interesting shops and restaurants with outdoor patios. The Old Town State Historic park is the most visited State Park in California. There is no admission fee.
Address: 4002 Wallace Street. Official site: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=663
Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument
Point Loma provides an incredible view out over San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. This is the place where Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first landed on the west coast of the United States in 1542. The history of his incredible "Voyage of Discovery" is told through a variety of displays and exhibits at the Cabrillo National Monument. A large statue dedicated to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo gazes out over the land he discovered. Also located on Point Loma is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1858. Visitors can tour the refurbished lighthouse building. Access to Point Loma is along a very scenic roadway.

San Diego Museum of Art
The San Diego Museum of Art is a copy of the 17th century University of Salamanca, in the so-called Platero style, with finely-chiseled terracotta and silversmith work. Busts of Spanish painters adorn the façade, and their works hang in the museum's collection. The museum's collection covers a broad spectrum of works from around the world and pieces that date back to 7000 years ago. Spanish old master paintings, along with Asian Art, European Art and Art from the Americas are highlighted. Address: 1450 El Prado. Official site: http://www.sdmart.org/

Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Walking along the San Diego waterfront trail, visitors may be surprised when they come across one of the US military's largest ships. The decommissioned USS Midway is permanently berthed at Navy Pier. The highlights of a visit to the USS Midway Museum include over 60 exhibits and 25 restored aircraft. Over 225,000 military service personnel served on the ship and today visitors can take a self-guided audio tour to learn all about its history. For an additional fee visitors can try a flight simulator on board. Address: 910 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101, United States
Official site: http://www.midway.org/

Horton Plaza
Horton Plaza lies in downtown San Diego between Broadway and G Street, and 1st and 4th Avenue. From an architectural point of view it is one of California's most interesting shopping centers. The bright colors and avant-garde architecture, together with the open-air displays, make it most attractive. The center contains all kinds of shops, including major department stores, numerous restaurants, and movie theaters. Address: 324 Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101-5481, United States Official site: http://www.westfield.com/hortonplaza/

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala
This was California's first mission. In 1769 the Spanish Franciscan Father from Majorca, Junipero Serra, founded the mission stations, the first of which was built in San Diego. A few years after it was founded, however, it was moved 6 miles inland, because disputes had arisen between the Spanish troops and the Indians. In 1775 the Indians set fire to the new mission; the Fathers sought refuge with the army and it was 1777 before they built a new mission station with the help of the Indians. However, it quickly became dilapidated following secularization. Today visitors can see the old church with a bell-tower, declared a basilica in the 1970s, a beautiful garden, and a small museum. It is a National Historic Landmark. Address: 10818 San Diego Mission Road, San Diego, CA 92108-2429, United States. Official site: http://www.missionsandiego.com/
The Museum of Photographic Arts, located at 1649 El Prado (619/238-7559, www.mopa.org) contains a glorious collection of over thirty-six hundred images that are simply astounding. The museum has works from world-renowned artists such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham.
The San Diego Aerospace Museum (619/234-8291, www.aerospacemuseum.org) is located at 2001 Pan American Plaza. Models, dioramas, films, and exhibits celebrate the great achievements and achievers in aerospace and aviation history.
Get the adrenaline flowing as you serve as a crew member on the 1992 racing yacht Stars & Stripes USA-11 made famous by Dennis Conner -- even though he didn't win -- during the America's Cup held in San Diego. Trim the sails and take the helm as the yacht speeds around San Diego Bay. You'll pay about $100 per person for a three-hour sail.
During the winter months, numerous whale-watching services offer cruises and aerial tours out to the ocean where the giant mammals can be spotted on their annual migration south. Seas can be rough, so dress warmly and bring seasickness medication. During other times of the year, these companies offer harbor excursions with views of San Diego Bay landmarks, the nation's largest naval fleet and harbor.
Kayaking is the sport for ocean-lovers who would rather sit, than swim. Ocean Experience kayak tours introduce students to the fundamentals of kayaking while gliding past the scenic San Diego coastline. Kayak clinics are offered every Saturday and Sunday for two hours starting at 9 a.m. Cost is $70, with all equipment provided.
Legoland California in Carlsbad, about 45 minutes from downtown San Diego, delights all ages with its interactive attractions constructed from the colored building blocks. The 128-acre theme park also offers rides and shows. (1 Legoland Drive; 760-918-5346; open daily but closed Tuesday and Wednesday during select seasons)

Best for Families: With lifeguards, wide swaths of sand and tame waves, Coronado and La Jolla Shores represent the best of San Diego's many family-friendly beach spots.
Coronado visitors frolic on long, broad beaches. The immaculate white sand beach is bordered by mansions, shops, restaurants and bars. The historic Hotel del Coronado's 1500 Ocean restaurant offers fine dining steps from the Pacific.
Twenty-five minutes north of downtown is La Jolla Shores, an expansive beach and grassy park that abut wealthy La Jolla village, which features upscale dining and retail sites. Near the beach, small boutiques sell sun wear and beach gear. Casual dining to fit most any budget also can be enjoyed.
Best for Nature-Lovers: Torrey Pines State Beach north of La Jolla gives nature lovers the option of enjoying sun and sand au natural. This popular destination includes views of the nearby Torrey Pines Glider Port where hang-gliders swoop above stunning sandstone cliffs. Extensive hiking trails climb to ocean vistas before wending back to the shore that includes secluded Black's Beach where it's perfectly legal to soak up sun in the buff. The northern section of beach, near the parking areas parallel to the highway, are just fine for those who would rather not experience their fellow sunbathers or themselves sans suits.
The Old Town Trolley (619/298-TOUR, www.trolleytours.com) is an independently owned open-air bus that travels continuously around the city. It runs in a loop, showcasing all of the sights and wonders of San Diego. The tour lasts about two hours but it allows you to go at your own pace by stopping at sights along the way.
Imperial Beach is the most popular beach in San Diego for surfers. Coronado Beach is lovely and wide open. Best for Surfing: In funky Ocean Beach, the long stretch of sandy beach from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park north to the jetty offers prime surfing. Smaller breaks north of the pier are ideal for beginners, while larger waves off Sunset Cliffs can give experienced surfers a great ride. Before paddling out, check the daily rip currents report posted at the lifeguard station north of the pier.
Eating Out
San Diego's dining scene is cooking on all burners these days, serving up a wide range of cuisine, often highlighted by the region's local bounty. A great way to experience the city's best eateries is timing your visit with the biannual San Diego Restaurant Week, held mid-September and mid-January. More than 160 restaurants participate -- everything from casual bistros to high-end steakhouses -- offering 3-course, prix fixe meals for $20, $30 or $40. You don't need tickets or passes, just check the list of dining spots at www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com and head on in (making reservations with the establishment itself is recommended, though).
You might also consider the 5-day San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, held in mid-November. Southern California's largest food and wine event, it features a cornucopia of celebrity chefs, classes, auctions, parties, and dinners. And of course there are plenty of food, wine, spirits, and craft beers on hand for sampling. For more information call tel. 619/342-7337 or go to www.worldofwineevents.com.Downtown, Gaslamp Quarter & Little Italy
Unassuming elegance is paired with striking attention to detail at Bernard’O Restaurant, in Rancho Bernardo. The main dining room provides a cosmopolitan space lit with the glow of an Italian-tile fireplace. The patio that affords views of glistening stars most nights also has a fireplace to keep diners comfortable. The menu is a toast to fine French fare, and Chef Vincent Viale plates dishes that are both complex in flavor and refreshingly direct in vision. The Californian Bouillabaisse is an ode to the ocean with seabass, scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, and potatoes, in a Rouille lobster sauce. Stop by for lunch Tuesday through Friday or enjoy an elegant night out for dinner Monday through Saturday. Bernard'O Restaurant is sure to leave you satisfied. Reservations | (866) 368-3773
Step into the main dining room of Humphreys Restaurant and understand how opulence is mastered. The large multileveled room is bathed in soft light and flowing panels of pale gray and ice blue upholstery. Juxtaposed against the whimsical softness of the colors are massive exposed beams that lend an anchor to a bay-side view that threatens to draw you in completely. The menu is thoughtful and inventive in the way it continues this balance between the ethereal and masculine – the Mirin Sesame Shrimp appetizer positions two large shrimp atop a bed of mango-mint relish that is refreshingly cool against a wasabi dressing. The menu and decor offer a cohesive gesture of sophistication that may just leave you swooning. web: www.humphreysbythebay.com/
Juniper & Ivy -- There is no way this is not one of the top restaurants in the city. Blais is known for molecular trickery, and though sci-fi food is included in the price of admission, at J&I his staff is doing simple things well—like a Baja yellowtail tostada in shark sauce, or that buttermilk biscuit in smoked butter. With up-and-coming sommelier Tami Wong and some of the best service in town, it fires on every important cylinder. 2228 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy http://www.juniperandivy.com/
This building—the old Ironside Metal Supply—is a gem of Little Italy, which now ranks as San Diego’s culinary epicenter. In the wrong hands, a piece of local history could’ve been buried in beige stucco and beiger ideas. But Consortium Holdings micro-managed the design and turned it into a grand statement of 1920s décor. Two-star Michelin chef Jason McLeod is overseeing the seafood joint that’s worthy of the once-thriving waterside community, with possibly the best lobster roll around and an oyster bar that’s slinging them almost as fast as customers demand. Ironside Fish & Oyster, 1654 India Street, Little Italy
The Patio -- It’s less a “patio” than a room without a roof—and a few massive holes where the walls should be. Gorgeous. Two plant walls are like cross-sections of the rainforest. There’s a fireplace for your cockle-warming. This is the second installment from owner Gina Champion-Cain and chef John Medall (the first Patio is in PB). It’s one of the most brunch-begging hangouts under San Diego’s perfect sun. They’ve got a custom-built cheese cave, one of the best octopus dishes (in nut-butter ragout) in the city, and 60-plus tequilas. 4020 Goldfinch Street, Mission Hills
Bottega Americano -- East Village is finally shaking off its economic hangover, and Bottega Americano is the beacon. The Thomas Schoos-designed eat-drink-shop concept has been overdue in San Diego. And while this is no Eataly (which is a city, six times as large), the general idea is the same. You eat Italian fare (crudo, fresh pasta, pizza, etc.) from chefs Giuseppe Ciuffa and David Warner (ex-JRDN), you drink cocktails by Snake Oil Cocktail Co., then you shop for gourmet foodstuffs after basking your gullet in inspiration. This all-in-one food experience will be replicated many times over this year. 1195 Island Avenue, East Village
Croce’s Park West -- It was time for Croce’s to leave downtown. When Ingrid and her husband, the late legendary folk singer Jim Croce, opened the restaurant 30 years ago, the Gaslamp was a seedy place in need of constructionists. The Croces helped build more safety, more interest, more scene. But come 2014, very few of Croce’s local crowd wanted to venture into The Gaslamp. It’s for the beautiful and the well-breasted now. So Croce’s moved to Bankers Hill, and it’s never been more alive. 2760 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill. http://crocesparkwest.com/
Land & Water Company -- As the former chef of Harney Sushi in Oceanside, Rob Ruiz became known as one of the most ardent promoters of sustainable seafood. Though the doom-and-gloom predictions vary, most experts agree: Our seafood supply is in various degrees of serious peril. And unsustainable sushi is not helping. Located in Carlsbad’s iconic Queen Anne home from the 1880s (formerly the Ocean House), L&W Co. is Ruiz’ riff on sushi, French food, and traditional Japanese yakitori fare (grilled meat on sticks). Good eating for mouth and mind. 2978 Carlsbad Boulevard, Carlsbad
City Tacos -- The taco is to San Diego what the cheesesteak is to Philly. And the humble hand-food is undergoing a massive overhaul in San Diego. Finally. There are Puesto’s designer tacos, or Haggo’s organic, and now North Park has City Tacos. This isn’t the simple braised-meat grease stain. Their pollo asado is served with arugula, diced tomatoes, golden raisins, and toasted almonds in a tamarind aioli on a house-made flour tortilla. Their veggie taco is portobellos, black beans, corn, and arugula. Good things happen when farmers market people make tacos. 3028 University Avenue, North Park
Downtown is also the busiest place for nightlife -- you'll find something going on nightly. The best nights (or worst, depending on your tolerance for crowds) are Thursday through Saturday, when the 20-somethings pour in and dance clubs spring into action. Cover charges range from about $10 to $20 these nights, but some bars and lounges, particularly those in restaurants and hotels, are usually free. Most clubs discount or waive cover charges if you go before 10pm; dining at nightspots that offer food service is another way to avoid lines and covers. Keep in mind that many clubs have "city style" dress codes -- no tank tops, sports jerseys, tennis shoes, and the like.
suds city: Grab a Great Brew in SD
With more than 30 breweries in town, it's no wonder Men's Journal declared San Diego to be America's number one beer city. Here is just a small sampling of the places a serious beer drinker is guaranteed to love.
San Diego's most acclaimed brewery is headquartered in far-flung Escondido, but elegant Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens is worth the drive. Pizza Port Brewing Company (www.pizzaport.com) has three locations: 1956 Bacon St., Ocean Beach (tel. 619/224-4700); 135 N. Hwy. 101, Solana Beach (tel. 858/481-7332); and 571 Carlsbad Village Dr. in Carlsbad (tel. 760/720-7007). Kids can get in on the action with Pizza Port's house-made root beer. At Pacific Beach AleHouse, 721 Grand Ave. (tel. 858/581-2337; www.pbalehouse.com), you can watch a Pacific sunset from the rooftop deck while you sip on a Pacific Sunset IPA. In Normal Heights, one of the city's great beer bars, Blind Lady Ale House, 3416 Adams Ave. (tel. 619/255-2491; www.blindladyalehouse.com), is making a foray into brewing (one of the owners was a master brewer at Stone once upon a time). 5 Points Brewing Co. in Middletown, 1795 Hancock St. (tel. 619/550-2739; www.5pbc.com), does contract brewing for two other beer makers, meaning you can taste suds from three local breweries in one tap room. Downtown, hops are brewing at Karl Strauss Brewery & Grill and The Beer Company, 602 Broadway (tel. 619/398-0707; www.thebeerco.net).
If you'd like to do some tours and sampling without the driving, check out Brewery Tours of San Diego (tel. 619/961-7999; www.brewerytoursofsandiego.com) or Brew Hop (tel. 858/361-8457; www.brewhop.com).
Although San Diego is one of the country's most queer-friendly cities, it's been quite a while since there has been a spot that has catered primarily to women 7 days a week. That has changed with the opening of Hillcrest's Gossip Grill, 1440 University Ave. (tel. 619/260-8023; www.thegossipgrill.com). Not a club but a bar and restaurant, Gossip Grill serves drinks featuring monikers that demure types might have trouble saying aloud and eats like flatbread pizzas, salads, and burgers. A sense of fun pervades, starting with first-time visitors getting a "virgin" sticker slapped on their chest; Tuesday nights feature karaoke and open-mic performances.
Gay dance clubs with designated ladies' nights include: Bourbon Street Bar & Grill (Sundays), 4612 Park Blvd., tel. 619/291-4043; www.bourbonstreetsd.com; The Brass Rail (most Fridays), 3796 Fifth Ave., tel. 619/298-2233; www.thebrassrailsd.com; The Flame (most Fridays and Saturdays), 3780 Park Blvd., tel. 619/795-8578; www.flamesandiego.com); Numbers (Saturday), 3811 Park Blvd., tel. 619/294-7583; www.numberssd.com; and Rich's (Thursday), 1051 University Ave., tel. 619/295-2195; www.richssandiego.com.
In the Gaslamp Quarter, high rents have led to the influx of deep-pocketed chains and brand names, such as Adidas, 926 Fifth Ave. (tel. 619/615-0287; www.adidas.com); Urban Outfitters, 665 Fifth Ave. (tel. 619/231-0102; www.urbanoutfitters.com); Quiksilver, 402 Fifth Ave. (tel. 619/234-3125; www.quiksilver.com); and G-Star, 470 Fifth Ave. (tel. 619/238-7088; www.g-star.com). A few intrepid boutiques can still be found among the big retailers and the area's multitudinous eateries, though.
For hip and glamorous women's clothing, Project Runway contestant Gordana Gehlhausen offers her designs at GOGA by Gordana, 401 Market St. (tel. 619/564-7660; www.shopgoga.com); Kita Ceramics & Glassware, 517 Fourth Ave. (tel. 619/239-2600; www.kitaceramicsglass.com), stocks fine Japanese pottery and colorful Italian glass products. HatWorks, 433 E St. (tel. 619/234-0457), has had a presence in downtown since 1922; if you've got a head, they have something to fit your style, from Stetson to Kangol. Bubbles Boutique, 226 Fifth Ave. (tel. 866/236-9003; www.bubblesboutique.com), has all manner of handmade soap products, from Mary Jane hemp soap bars to banana shake-flavored bath "bombs." You can pamper your pooch with something from Lucky Dog Pet Boutique, 415 Market St. (tel. 619/696-0364; www.shopluckydog.com), where you'll find supplies swank and chic: collars, snacks, soaps, and bowls. Animation fans will want to duck into Chuck Jones Gallery, 232 Fifth Ave. (tel. 619/294-9880; www.chuckjones.com); it features animation cels by the likes of Dr. Seuss and Jones himself, who was creator of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and others.
You never can tell what might pop up at Industry Showroom, 345 Sixth Ave. (www.industryshowroom.com), a "retail experiment" featuring art, design, and fashion in a DIY collective environment. Once a month, Industry Showroom also hosts its indie Bohemian Market, bringing in even more crafty vendors and entertainment.
You can continue your search for serious art, design, and home furnishings in Little Italy. The conglomeration of cool stores and galleries along Kettner Boulevard and India Street, from Laurel to Date streets, has become known as the Kettner Art & Design District. Throughout the year, Friday evening open-house events known as Kettner Nights are scheduled; for information, check www.littleitalysd.com. Among the district's highlights for modern furnishings and accessories are Boomerang for Modern, 2475 Kettner Blvd. (tel. 619/239-2040; www.boomerangformodern.com); Mixture, 2210 Kettner Blvd. (tel. 619/239-4788; www.mixturehome.com); and DNA European Design Studio, 750 W. Fir St. (tel. 619/235-6882; www.dnaeuropeandesign.com). Look for fine art at Scott White Contemporary Art, 939 W. Kalmia St. (tel. 619/501-5689; www.scottwhiteart.com), and Noel-Baza Fine Art, 2165 India St. (tel. 619/876-4160; www.noel-bazafineart.com).
The nearby Fir Street Cottages are a quaint cluster of festively painted stores where the highlights include Carol Gardyne, 1840 Columbia St. (tel. 619/233-8066; www.carolgardyne.com), which has hand-painted, one-of-a-kind silk scarves and wall hangings; Vitreum, 619 W. Fir St. (tel. 619/237-9810; www.vitreum-us.com), an artfully Zen shop that sells glassware, as well home decor, tea sets, tableware, and jewelry; and Rosamariposa, 611 W. Fir St. (tel. 619/237-8064; www.rosamariposasd.com), stocking exotic (but responsibly crafted) baubles and bangles from Indonesia and India.
Hillcrest & Uptown
Compact Hillcrest is an ideal shopping destination. As the hub of San Diego's gay and lesbian community, hip fashion and chic housewares are the order of the day here. There are plenty of establishments selling cool trinkets, used books, vintage clothing, and memorabilia; you'll also find a plethora of modestly priced globe-hopping dining options, too.
Street parking is available; most meters run 2 hours and devour quarters at a rate of one every 12 minutes. Some blocks have just one meter; use cash or credit card to get a receipt to place on your dashboard. You can also park in a lot -- rates vary, but you'll come out ahead if you're planning to stroll for several hours. There's no defined zone in which shops are found, so you may as well start at the neighborhood's axis, the busy 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 another aggregation of good options, especially in the home furnishing category. Co-Habitat, 1433 University Ave. (tel. 619/688-1390; www.cohabitathome.com), has colorful decor and textiles from India; Nativa, 1003 University Ave. (tel. 619/299-4664; www.nativa-online.com), has a huge showroom with sumptuous furniture made mostly from plantation-grown South American wood. On the other side of University Avenue is a small shopping complex where the highlight is the contemporary clothing store Studio 1220, 1220 Cleveland Ave. (tel. 619/220-7344; www.studio1220.com).
If you're looking for postcards or provocative gifts, step into wacky Babette Schwartz, 421 University Ave. (tel. 619/220-7048; www.babette.com), a pop-culture emporium named for a local drag queen and located under the can't-miss HILLCREST street sign. You'll find books, clothing, and kitsch accessories. A couple of doors away, Cathedral, 435 University Ave. (tel. 619/296-4046; www.shopcathedral.com), is stocked with candles of all scents and shapes, plus unusual holders.
If all this walking is wearing a hole in your shoes, you can get a pair of urban-fabulous sneakers at Mint, 525 University Ave. (tel. 619/291-6468; www.mintshoes.com); then march yourself over to Kingdom, 3696 Fifth Ave. (tel. 619/298-5464; www.kingdomsandiego.com), for some trendy threads to go along with your new shoes. Headgear -- from straw hats to knit caps to classy fedoras -- fills the Village Hat Shop, 3821 Fourth Ave. (tel. 619/683-5533; www.villagehatshop.com); there's also a minimuseum of stylishly displayed vintage hats.
Lovers of rare and used books will want to poke around the used bookstores on Fifth Avenue, between University and Robinson avenues. Though their number has decreased with the advent of online shopping, you can always find something to pique your interest. This block is also home to a couple of vintage clothing/second-hand style outposts: Flashbacks Recycled Fashions, 3849 Fifth Ave. (tel. 619/291-4200; www.flashbackintime.com), and Buffalo Exchange, 3862 Fifth Ave. (tel. 619/298-4411; www.buffaloexchange.com).
To the north and east of Hillcrest are University Heights and North Park, which are brimming with interesting shops. You'll find independent-minded boutiques such as Mimi & Red, 3032 University Ave. (tel. 619/298-7933; www.mimiandred.com), and All Vegan, 4669 Park Blvd. (tel. 619/299-4669; www.allveganshopping.com), which offers cruelty-free clothing and accessories; there are also unusual gift stores such as Vintage Religion, 3821 32nd St. (tel. 619/280-8408; www.vintagereligion.com), selling jewelry, apparel, and collectibles inspired by global religions and cultures.
Running east from where Park Boulevard T-bones Adams Avenue is the area once known as Adams Avenue Antique Row. It doesn't have the concentration of antiques stores it once had, but along with vintage-clothing boutiques and dusty used book and record shops, there are plenty of coffeehouses, pubs, and small restaurants to enliven the excursion. The district stretches a couple miles from Arizona Street to Normal Heights, so it's best tackled by car. For more information, contact the Adams Avenue Business Association (tel. 619/282-7329; www.adamsavenuebusiness.com).
Old Town & Mission Valley
Old Town State Historic Park features restored historic sites and adobe structures, a number of which now house shops that cater to tourists. Many have a "general-store" theme and carry gourmet treats and inexpensive Mexican crafts alongside the obligatory T-shirts, baseball caps, and other San Diego-emblazoned souvenirs. Fiesta de Reyes, Juan Street, between Wallace and Mason streets (tel. 619/297-3100; www.fiestadereyes.com), maintains the park's old Californio theme, and features more than a dozen specialty shops, and three restaurants. Costumed employees, special events and activities, and strolling musicians add to the festive flavor at this quaint courtyard surrounded by shady arcades.
There's also plenty of shopping outside the park, too. Bazaar del Mundo, 4133 Taylor St. (tel. 619/296-3161; www.bazaardelmundo.com), has a gaggle of stores featuring Mexican and Latin American folk art, accessories, and clothing; Old Town's best spot for Mexican collectibles, though, is Miranda's Courtyard, 2548 Congress St. (tel. 619/296-6611). For museum-quality nautical antiques -- from sextants to diving suits -- check out West Sea Company, 2495 Congress St. (tel. 619/296-5356; www.westsea.com); or for a fine collection of Native American art and jewelry breeze into Four Winds Trading, 2448 San Diego Ave. (tel. 619/692-0466; www.4windsarts.com). You can also watch as one-of-a-kind glass art is created at Lowery's Hot Glass, 3985 Harney St. (tel. 619/297-3473; www.loweryshotglass.com), an Old Town staple since 1995.
Mission Valley is home to two giant malls, Fashion Valley Center and Mission Valley Center, with more than enough stores to satisfy any shopper, and free parking -- both can be reached via the San Diego Trolley from downtown.
Mission Bay & the Beaches
The beach communities offer laid-back shopping, with plenty of surf shops, recreational gear, and casual garb. If you're looking for something more distinctive than T-shirts and shorts, you'd best head east to Mission Valley or north to La Jolla.
For women in need of a new bikini, the best selection is at Pilar's, 3745 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach (tel. 858/488-3056; www.pilarsbeachwear.com), where choices range from stylish designer numbers to suits inspired by surf- and skate-wear. Across the street is Liquid Foundation Surf Shop, 3731 Mission Blvd. (tel. 858/488-3260), which specializes in board shorts for guys. For affordable shoes, check out the Skechers USA, 4475 Mission Blvd. (tel. 858/581-6010; www.skechers.com), at the corner of Garnet Avenue.
In Pacific Beach, Pangaea Outpost, 909 Garnet Ave. (tel. 858/581-0555; www.pangaeaoutpost.com), gathers more than 70 diverse artists and merchants under one roof; while San Diego's greatest concentration of antiques stores is found in the Ocean Beach Antique District (www.antiquesinsandiego.com), along the 4800 block of Newport Avenue, the community's main drag. Several of the stores are mall-style, featuring dozens of dealers under one roof, and although you won't find a horde of pricey, centuries-old European antiques, the overall quality is high enough to make it interesting for any collector. Most of the O.B. antiques stores are open daily from 10am to 6pm, with somewhat shorter hours Sunday.
If you've come to O.B. for that hippie vibe, you can find it alive and well at The Black, 5017 Newport Ave. (tel. 619/222-5498), an old-fashioned head shop that's a local institution, and Falling Sky Pottery, 1951 Abbott St. (tel. 619/226-6820), a collective of potters that's been around since the late 1960s.
La Jolla
It's clear from the look of La Jolla's village that shopping is a major pastime in this upscale community. Precious gems and pearl necklaces sparkle in their cases, luxurious Persian rugs await your caress, crystal goblets prism the light -- even if you're not in the market for any of it, it makes for great window-shopping.
The clothing boutiques tend to be conservative and costly (and mostly geared toward women), like those lining Girard Avenue and Prospect Street, such as Armani Exchange, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nicole Miller, and Sigi's Boutique. But you'll also find less pricey venues including Talbots and Banana Republic.
Laura Gambucci, 7629 Girard Ave., Ste. C3 (tel. 858/551-0214), bucks the staid trend with contemporary apparel for women; and a sexy, glamorous local line of bathing suits (for her and him) is at Sauvage, 1025 Prospect St. (tel. 858/729-0015; www.sauvagewear.com). Blondstone Jewelry Studio, 925 Prospect St. (tel. 858/456-1994; www.blondstone.com), has locally made designs as well, producing adornments that incorporate seashells and tumbled sea-glass "mermaid tears." Emilia Castillo, 1273 Prospect St. (tel. 858/551-9600; www.emiliacastillolajolla.com), features one-of-a-kind jewelry and home decor from a silversmith based in Taxco, Mexico.
You'll find modern and minimalist home furnishings at My Own Space, 7840 Girard Ave. (tel. 866/607-7223 or 858/459-0099; www.mosmyownspace.com), and Ligne Roset, 7726 Girard Ave. (tel. 858/454-3366; www.ligneroset-lajolla.com); the Ligne Roset showroom is ensconced in what had previously been one of the last single-screen theaters in San Diego. For something a little more traditional, look for the French country style at La Maisonnette, 7631 Girard Ave. (tel. 858/551-1222; www.lamaisonnettefrance.com). History buffs should not miss Ruderman Antique Maps, 7463 Girard Ave. (tel. 858/551-8500; www.raremaps.com), which sells maps, atlases, and books that date from the 15th through 19th centuries.
There are also more than 20 art galleries in La Jolla village. Although most won't appeal to serious collectors, there are crowd-pleasers such as the sensuous landscape photography at Peter Lik Gallery, 1205 Prospect St. (tel. 858/200-0990; www.peterlik.com); and Africa & Beyond, 1250 Prospect St. (tel. 800/422-3742 or 858/454-9983; www.africaandbeyond.com), with its contemporary and traditional African sculpture, textiles, jewelry, and furnishings. Serene, museum-like Tasende Gallery, 820 Prospect St. (tel. 858/454-3691; www.tasendegallery.com), has sculptural work; Joseph Bellows Gallery, 7661 Girard Ave. (tel. 858/456-5620; www.josephbellows.com), exhibits vintage and contemporary photography. Reopened in a new location is Quint Contemporary Art, 7547 Girard Ave. (tel. 858/454-3409; www.quintgallery.com), one of the best contemporary art galleries in the city.
A unique experience awaits at the Cave Store, 1325 Coast Blvd., just off Prospect Street (tel. 858/459-0746; www.cavestore.com). The shop is equal parts boutique and curio store (that also rents snorkel gear), but the main attraction is the Sunny Jim Cave, a large sea cave reached by a steep, narrow staircase that was tunneled through the rock more than 100 years ago; admission is $4 for adults, $3 for kids 3 to 16, free for 2 and under.
This rather insular, conservative Navy community doesn't have many stellar shopping opportunities; the best of the lot line Orange Avenue at the southwestern end of the town. You'll find some scattered housewares and home-decor boutiques, several small women's boutiques, and resort gift shops.
There is an excellent independent bookshop, Bay Books, 1029 Orange Ave. (tel. 619/435-0070; www.baybookscoronado.com), which carries a selection in many categories, plus volumes of local historical interest, books on tape, and Mexican and European magazines. In Good Taste, 1146 Orange Ave. (tel. 619/435-8356), has a small but choice selection of gourmet gift items -- in addition to a tempting display of luscious truffles and sweets. Zazen, 1110 First Ave. (tel. 619/435-4780), is a women's boutique with fine jewelry and accessories; and, if you're in pursuit of swimwear, poke your head into Dale's Swim Shop, 1150 Orange Ave. (tel. 619/435-7301), a tiny shop jam-packed with suits to fit all bodies, including styles from European makers seldom available in this country.
Elsewhere in San Diego County
The Cedros Design District, along the 100 and 200 blocks of South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach, is an outstanding place for designer interior decorating goods. Many of the shops are housed in a row of Quonset huts that were once used by a company that made photographic equipment for spy planes. Today, you can find more than two dozen chic shops selling furniture, original art, imported goods, home decor, antiques, and clothing, plus a couple of good cafes. The strip is located just north of the Del Mar racetrack; reach it by taking the Via de la Valle exit off I-5 and going right on Cedros Avenue. The Coaster commuter train stops at the Solana Beach station next to the district. For more information go to www.cedrosavenue.com.
Garden fanciers will find North County the best hunting grounds for bulbs, seeds, and starter cuttings. North County nurseries are known throughout the state for rare and hard-to-find plants -- notably begonias, orchids, bromeliads, succulents, and ranunculuses.

Captcha Challenge
Reload Image
Type in the verification code above