You probably already know this historic district as a fun destination for day trips and culturally immersive experiences. Still, if you haven’t yet explored the eclectic collection Old Town San Diego shops, you’re in for a treat. 

Unique gifts with style. Food items to satisfy any palate. Children’s toys, home decor, blown glass, and colorful, one-of-a-kind presents to bring someone cheer. Books that bring history alive. Apparel that’s as elegant as it is comfortable. You’ll find these items and more when you spend time sightseeing and shopping in what is regarded as California’s birthplace.

Most of the Old Town San Diego stores listed below have concession agreements with the state-run Old Town State Historic Park. This means you might see staff members dressed in period clothing and making concerted efforts to give shoppers a glimpse of life in the Mexican and early American periods of 1821 – 1872.

This is why shopping in Old Town San Diego can be a fun a journey—a trip across cultures and time—and an opportunity to find the perfect treasures you’ll cherish well into the future. 

1. Honest Thrift Studio

  • 2609 Congress St, San Diego, CA 92110
  • (619) 485-4674
  • Wednesday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m
  • Closed Sunday through Tuesday

The shop’s tagline, “Boutique finds at thrift shop prices,” describes this place perfectly. Honest Thrift Studio brings you beautiful antiques and other great finds within a lovely little nook that’s alive with an abundance of indoor plants, creating a welcoming space. 

To maximize the browsing experience, only a few customers can come in at one time. Inside, you’ll find plant accessories (many of the vibrant plants surrounding you are also for sale), furniture, décor, and more. You’ll never know exactly what you’ll find, but that’s just part of the fun of this shop. 

Honest Thrift Studio may be the coziest, cutest, and most eclectic thrift shop ever. Stop in for a unique, intimate shopping experience and chat with owners who love what they do. When you’re done shopping, go around the corner to the shop owners’ sister business, Garden Coffee, which is just as vibrant.

2. Cousin’s Candy Shop

  • 2711 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
  • (619) 297-2000
  • Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Friday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Jars of taffy, jawbreakers and other candy for sale at Cousin's Candy Shop.
Their fudge is also excellent.

Housed inside one of Old Town’s many historic buildings, Cousin’s Candy Shop is a paradise for every sweet tooth in your family. Inside you’ll find candies of all shapes and flavors piled high in barrels, baskets, jars, bins, and cases. Walking in, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time to the 1800s, with employees dressed in clothing typical of that era. 

If you love soft, creamy fudge, you’ll find delicious varieties here. Craving jelly beans? A self-serve station lets you indulge in 49 different flavors.

Other tasty delights include saltwater taffy, licorice, chocolates, rock candy, and nostalgic specialty candies you can’t find in regular stores. Sugar-free candies are also sold, and the shop specializes in huckleberry products, including jams, syrups, fudge, and taffy. 

The treats at Cousin’s Candy Shop are high-quality, with fresh batches made daily. Baskets are available for gift-giving, or you can create your own.  

3. Toby’s Candles

  • 2645 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
  • (619) 297-5426
  • Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

More than a candle shop, Toby’s Candles is a sensory experience offering aromatic candles and scented soaps. This family-owned and operated shop sells quality candles handmade with love. The original business co-owner, Toby, was a university professor when she began practicing the art of candle carving. This new passion grew into a full-time business for her, with the rest of the family joining in. 

As one of the Old Town San Diego stores since 1992, Toby’s Candles immerses you in a peaceful, creative atmosphere as soon as you enter. The staff is welcoming and helpful while letting you browse freely at your own pace. 

The shop specializes in kaleidoscope candle kits you can take home to make yourself and handcrafted specialty candles that make wonderful gifts. Their shower steamers are popular alternatives to bath bombs, providing an at-home spa experience whenever you take a shower. 

4. El Centro Artesano

A woman enters El Centro Artesano in Old Town.
A fun place to browse

As Old Town’s largest pottery shop, El Centro Artesano brings you great ideas for adding vibrant colors to your yard spaces. With great indoor and outdoor areas to browse, this shop includes a large outdoor courtyard with rows upon rows of Mexican pots of different sizes.

These items have unique, eye-catching designs painted by hand. To personalize your yard, you’ll also find terracotta pots and various décor, including sun faces, wind chimes, and whimsical sculptures. 

Inside, the large gift shop is brimming with international merchandise for all ages. You’ll find Día de los Muertos figurines, wall décor, colorful gems, hanging chimes and suncatchers, jewelry, magnets, and more. It’s a great place to find unique, themed gifts for friends and relatives. 

El Centro Artesano provides a unique shopping experience for the whole family. Just keep little ones from running through the courtyard and gift shop to avoid breaking any fragile items. 

5. Rust General Store

  • 2720 Calhoun St, San Diego, CA 92110
  • (619) 295-7878
  • Monday and Thursday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Friday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Candy jars lining the wall at Rust General Store.
I love the wall of candies.

Rust General Store is a quaint, one-of-a-kind shop with an old-fashioned feel. Selling gourmet foods and specialty items, it serves as a general store and a coffee shop with an 1860s ambiance. I like this store for gifts.

In addition to shopping for unique products, you can grab a cup of coffee or tea plus a bite to eat while taking a break in the enclosed outdoor seating area under large shade trees. 

It’s a fun place to shop if you enjoy finding hard-to-locate food stuff you ate when you were a kid, plus things you’ve never heard of but are game to try at least once—everything from lavender candy to pickled quail eggs. 

From the bistro section of Rust General Store, you can order a beverage of your choice—hot, iced, or bottled—along with a snack or a sweet treat. Menu items include café mocha, chai latte, iced tea, Bavarian pretzel, mini panini sandwich, fresh-baked pastries, and ice cream. 

6. Miner’s Gems and Minerals

  • State Historic Park, 2616 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
  • (619) 688-1178
  • Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Loose rocks and gems on display inside Miner's Gems and Minerals.
Some of the loose stones inside the store.

Whether you’re visiting this historic district just for fun or you’re here to do some bona fide Old Town, San Diego shopping, Miner’s Gems and Minerals is a must-see. This geological treasure house comes with a highly trained staff that knows its stuff in gemology and mineralogy. It’s a museum and a shop all in one.

If you’re ready to buy a gem, you’ll find top-quality specimens for sale here. The store sells polished gemstones, including pieces that can be fitted into jewelry, along with crystals, rough stones, and even fossils. 

A trip to Miner’s Gems and Minerals can be educational for the whole family. While the kids check out wooly mammoth hair and fragments of raptor eggs, the adults can admire beautiful bicolor tourmaline extracted from San Diego’s own Himalaya Mine—did you know our county has several active gem mines? You’ll learn a lot more when you visit this shop. 

7. Kosay Kumeyaay Market

  • 85472 Calhoun St, San Diego, CA 92110
  • (442) 899-8051
  • Friday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Closed Monday – Thursday 

Long before the Spaniards came to the region, the Kumeyaay lived here. They were the first people to settle in what is now San Diego, covering a wide area from Ensenada to Oceanside.

Kosay Kumeyaay Market pays tribute to the original people of this area by featuring traditional artwork created by skilled artists. Kosay Village was the name of what is now known as Old Town, San Diego. 

Shopping here, you’ll find authentic arts and crafts made by members of the Yuman groups of Native American origin, including various communities of the Kumeyaay, Cucapah, Kiliwa, Pai Pai, and Cochimi Nations.

Purchasing from this market helps support artisans in Mexico and the U.S. and teaches you something about the cultures that lived here long ago—and continue to live in the region today. 

Bring home an authentic, handmade masterpiece from Kosay Kumeyaay Market—it will add so much to your living spaces while serving as a reminder of the cultures that have been here since long before San Diego was incorporated.  

8. Fiesta de Reyes

  • 2754 Calhoun St, San Diego, CA 92110
  • (619) 297-3100   
  • Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Friday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Old Town, San Diego also has several larger shopping zones, each with its own collection of shops worth visiting. With 19 locally owned shops, Fiesta de Reyes is one of these marketplaces. While perusing here, be sure to stop in these great stores.

Geppetto’s Toys

Find classic toys that inspire creativity: puppets, puzzles, games, construction sets, arts and crafts, books, and much more. Geppetto’s is a quality toy store that’s been in San Diego for over 40 years. 

Tienda de Reyes

Featuring Mexican folk art and Day of the Dead merchandise, this exciting gift shop offers a large selection of fun souvenirs, festive housewares, and colorful clothing. 

The Crazy Pepper

Whether you like your salsa hot or mild, step into this shop for some of the most flavorful condiments around. Browse the wide selection of salsas, hot sauces, BBQ sauces, and more. 

9. Old Town Market

The Old Town Market sign and outdoor vendor stalls.
Some of the outdoor stalls

With over 40 shops and restaurants in one place, Old Town Market is a historic indoor and outdoor marketplace that will draw you in with its colorful offerings and vibrant atmosphere. Check out these shops. 

Best of Old Town

You’ll find beautifully crafted wares and clothing from Ecuador, Peru, and Guatemala, including ponchos, blankets, sandals, and purses. 

D&O Imports

See the authentic Vietnamese souvenirs sold here, including beautiful metal art designs, other handmade goods, and a wide variety of Asian imports. 

Mi Casa Es Mi Casa

It’s a veritable fiesta with all the colorful, authentic Mexican items on display, from maracas and piñatas to festive margarita glasses. Grab a delicious Mexican soda while you’re here. 

10. Bazaar del Mundo

  • 4133 Taylor St, San Diego, CA 92110
  • (619) 296-3161
  • Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

No Old Town, San Diego shopping experience is complete without a visit to the Bazaar del Mundo. Here’s where you’ll find some of the best one-of-a-kind gifts for yourself and others. Enjoy the bright, cheerful setting and great places to shop, like these. 

Artes de Mexico

Carefully selected items make this store a joy to shop in. You’ll find Oaxacan hand-carved wooden animals, Huichol beaded art, hand-painted Talavera ceramics, and much more. 

Guatemala Shop

Discover treasures and beautiful textiles from Guatemala. This shop brings you traditional Latin American crafts, including ceramic figures, rain sticks, Peruvian art, Guatemalan fabrics, and unique toys. 

Kitchen Shop 

If you’re ready to turn your kitchen into the vibrant heart of your home, stop by the Kitchen Shop for beautiful dishware and kitchen décor. You’ll also find a great selection of cookbooks and mouthwatering Mexican spices, soup mixes, and preserves.

Where do you like to go shopping in Old Town San Diego? See also:

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

Explore More Things to Do in San Diego

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.