Ah, the holidays … a time for peaceful gatherings, baking cookies and guilt-free Netflix marathons. But nothing kills this warm holiday glow quicker than a crowded, hectic shopping mall.
It’s a good thing, then, that you can do much of your holiday shopping in a variety of San Diego neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking one-of-a-kind jewelry for your BFF, or something classy for your boss, you’ll find unique options at any of these local shopping districts.
Little Italy is home to some of the best restaurants in the city, plus it has a top-notch Saturday farmers market. But along with its food scene, this neighborhood also is known for art galleries, vintage furniture, handmade jewelry and sophisticated fashion. Plus, Little Italy has a Christmas tree and poinsettia display at Piazza Basilone, so you still get some holiday spirit as you shop.
Where: Along India Street and Kettner Boulevard from West Ash to West Laurel streets.
Parking: It’s hard to find, especially at lunch or dinner hours. You can fight for a metered spot on the street, but your best bet is biking, trolley or ride sharing.
What you’ll find here: You can spend hours at Love & Aesthetics, a shop filled with modern Goth supplies like candles in dark wood boxes and necklaces in the shape of actual human hearts. Right next door, is the clean simplicity of Vitreum, where you’ll find unique Japanese mugs, bowls and vases. More spiritual types will love Verde, which has a large selection of evil eye art and jewelry. There’s European lingerie (in a good variety of sizes) at Kapreeza, and whimsical-yet-sophisticated fruit-themed blouses at Little Apple. Get beer-themed hoodies, hats and t-shirts at Bottlecraft, or make a really amazing gift basket using imported pastas and treats from the deli at Mona Lisa Italian Foods.
Rest your feet: If you’re looking for a quick bite, definitely get a paper cone filled with cheese flakes (raspa dura) and a sweet vermouth cocktail at Monello, a beautiful salad at Cafe Gratitude, or a coffee and homemade croissant at Influx. There’s also ramen at Underbelly and fried chicken sandwiches at The Crack Shack. Oh, plus, every other trendy restaurant in San Diego.
Last-minute option: Grab a restaurant gift card while you’re already out to dinner.
North Park/South Park
Thanks to its mix of creative-minded residents, art galleries, authentic taco shops and high-profile music venues, this shopping corridor is where you go when you want to find what’s on trend. Whether it’s a special blend of cocktail bitters or a politically savvy pin, consider North Park and South Park as shopping at the anti-mall.
Where: Along 30th Street from University Avenue to Hawthorn Street.
Parking: You can spend time looking for a street spot in North Park, but if you have a few extra dollars, there’s the parking garage on 29th Street. Parking’s a bit easier to find in South Park, just be nice to the residents as you walk by their houses.