The nation’s oldest continuously family-owned and -operated bookstore is Warwick’s in La Jolla. That’s thanks to one William T. Warwick, who entered the book business in 1896 in Iowa. Life soon led him to this dreamy stretch of the Pacific coast, where he bought an existing bookstore, then married the widowed former owner, Genevieve Redding. The business—now run by their great-granddaughters—has become not just a local institution, but also a must-stop on any prominent national book tour. So check Warwick’s events listings whenever you’re in town, because chances are, so is an actor, politician, or celebrity chef who’ll be reading from a newly released book. And even on event-free days, a trip to this sprawling store is bibliophile heaven, with passionate staff recommendations for every genre. The San Diego–themed section is particularly good, with helpful hiking guides, gorgeous photography collections, and fascinating lessons on locals. (Leaf through Remarkable Women of San Diego: Pioneers, Visionaries and Innovators by Hannah Cohen and Gloria Harris.) On the second Tuesday morning each month, the shop hosts “coffee with a bookseller,” a free event where customers can talk books new and old over breakfast.
At this colorful corner store in North Park, Mexican handicrafts reign supreme. Pick up such gifts as hand-embroidered pillows and table runners, hand-painted wooden stools, glassware, and rainbow huaraches. This wholly original store is the brainchild of Elexia de la Parra, who grew up in Tijuana, studied culinary arts in San Diego, and then globetrotted a bit before turning her passions into a business. Her goal was to create a shop that both celebrated Mexico’s vibrant artisanal culture and supported its makers—a percentage of each sale is donated to an organization that provides no-interest loans to female entrepreneurs in Oaxaca. When de la Parra’s not at the shop, she’s leading trips to Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende for lovers of market tours, cooking classes, and artisans’ studios. Dubbed Eat Drink Cook Mexico, the forays double as treasure hunts for her shop. Pro tip: Before you visit, check Artelexia’s events calendar for evening crafting workshops.
Built in the 1920s, San Diego’s onetime Naval Training Center began its transformation into a cultural and retail space in 2000, when the city bought this massive Spanish colonial revival complex to house galleries and shops as well as concert, movie, and lecture venues. The shopping is largely culinary here, with food hall–style purveyors of everything from coffee to pasta (don’t miss the vinegar tasting station at Baker & Olive). But there are also local accessory shops worth visiting: Check out the rotating assortment of local home goods and accessories at Moniker General (look for Norden Goods candles and Bradley Mountain bags).
In Partnership with Afar.