Where to find fashion bargains, designer looks, and other shopping treasures in the Golden State
From big-city stores to charming towns to enormous outlet malls, California has something for every kind of shopper. Here are 14 perfect places to browse, buy, and find incredible bargains all over California.
ST. HELENA Main Street This charming Napa Valley wine country town makes for great strolling—and shopping. Visit Dean & DeLuca to sample (and buy) the region’s food and wine. For a special souvenir, visit local galleries featuring elegant wine country landscapes.
SAN FRANCISCO Union Square
Union Square is the place for high-end fashions like Armani and Ferragamo, glittering gems at Tiffany & Co., and an enormous towering Macy’s (stop here for exquisite sweets at Tout Sweet Patisserie).
SAN FRANCISCO Ghirardelli Square
This former chocolate factory is now a shopper’s dream, with dozens of shops filled with everything from delightful toys to designer clothes. Save time to indulge in enormous sundaes at Ghirardelli’s lively ice cream parlor.
MARIN COUNTY Sausalito and Tiburon
Ride the ferry from San Francisco to this pair of luxurious Marin County towns, with mansions on the hillsides and yachts anchored just offshore. In Tiburon, shop at boutiques lining quaint Main Street. In Sausalito , stroll Bridgeway for bay views and souvenirs, and Caledonia Street for designer clothes.
MONTEREY COUNTY Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey
In quaint Carmel, visit boutiques and cafes tucked into quiet courtyards, and meet local artists in one of the town’s many galleries. In Monterey, stroll Cannery Row for souvenirs. For top-quality, marine-themed clothes and gifts, head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s excellent gift shops.
SANTA BARBARA State Street
This ultra-scenic Central Coast city, nicknamed “The American Riviera,” has great shopping within walking distance of the beach; look for galleries, vintage fashions, and accessories around State Street. Also head to Paso Nuevo, with big-name stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom, and more than 40 specialty shops.
WEST HOLLYWOOD Santa Monica, Sunset, & Robertson Boulevards
This trio of streets is full of fantastic shopping finds, with trendy boutiques (Balenciaga, Chirstian Louboutin), nightclubs, and notice-me street-side cafes, all popular with celebrities.
BEVERLY HILLS Rodeo, Beverly, and Cañon Drives
Shop not only along ritzy Rodeo Drive, and also on side streets like Beverly and Cañon, with beautiful shops and some of the best celebrity-spotting in California. Along Rodeo, step into Prada, YSL, Armani, and Versace boutiques, and to see who gets out of that Lamborghini with the tinted windows.
SANTA MONICA Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place
The pedestrian-only Third Street Promenade has big-name stores, like Abercrombie & Fitch, plus specialty shops and street musicians year-round. Nearby Santa Monica Place sparkles with luxury shopping, and a rooftop level with outdoor dining and ocean views.
UNIVERSAL CITY Universal CityWalk Hollywood
This outdoor, multi-tiered mall has big-name brands (O’Neill, Sketchers, Fossil), specialty shops, and souvenir kiosks—also dining, nightly live entertainment, and music videos projected on giant screens.
ANAHEIM Downtown Disney District
Stroll this bright-lights-big-shops complex linked to the Disneyland Resort . Discover plenty of places to look for souvenirs, clothes, and gifts patterned after Disney movies and characters. Dine, watch a movie, visit a club, or catch live outdoor performances.
COSTA MESA South Coast Plaza
Come here for the highest concentration of luxury brand, designer boutiques in the U.S., with Balenciaga, Rolex, and Harry Winston alongside a spectacular Macy’s and other major department stores.
SAN DIEGO Gaslamp Quarter
Stroll the lovely Gaslamp Quarter for one-of-a-kind shops in restored historic buildings, then walk to nearby Horton Plaza with top stores, like Macy’s and Nordstrom. After dark, return to the Gaslamp Quarter, with open-air cafes, clubs, and restaurants.
OUTLET MALLS multiple locations
For terrific bargains on top brands, visit California's outlet malls. Premium Outlets , including the enormous Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon, west of Palm Springs, offer savings on luxury brands like Coach, Gucci, and Jimmy Choo. At L.A.’s Citadel Outlets, find bargains on big names like Calvin Klein, Michael Kors. Other outlet centers, like Ontario Mills Malls in Ontario, offer great ways to save. For special tours stopping at outlets and top tourist attractions, consider a Shop America Tour .
Photo by Harriot Manley/Sunset Publishing