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.
This place is great but small. You’ll want to stop by when the kids are at school—or duck inside while the rest of the family is busy with other Old Town activities. You can find home décor treasures at Honest Thrift Studio that will become beautiful, eye-catching centerpieces in your house.
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.
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.
Bring the kids in to watch how saltwater taffy and fudge are made. One of the great things about visiting many of the shops in Old Town San Diego is the living history lesson you’ll get. Cousin’s Candy Shop is no exception, giving kids of all ages a fun glimpse into how candy is made the old-fashioned way.
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.
At Toby’s Candles, you’re encouraged to make your own, so if you’ve always been curious about candle making, this is the place to try it. Take part in hands-on activities—walk-ins are welcome. You can learn everything from how to make sand candles to the art of making colorful kaleidoscope candles and more. Learn from a team with a candle-making heritage that goes back to 1981.
4. El Centro Artesano
- 2637 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
- (619) 297-2931
- Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Friday – Sunday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
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.
Like many of the shops in Old Town, San Diego, El Centro Artesano invites leisurely exploration. Since a large part of this shop encompasses an outdoor courtyard, plan accordingly. Bring an umbrella if it looks like it might rain, or stop by on a clear day when you can take your time perusing outside without worrying about the weather.
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
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.
If it’s a hot and somewhat busy day, and you and your family need a break from the crowds that can sometimes form in Old Town, particularly during tourist season, take a break at Rust General Store. There are drink and snack options to please just about anyone, and the off-the-beaten-path small sheltered patio area offers a nice respite.
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.
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.
When you stop by Miner’s Gems and Minerals, leave enough time to pan for gold and crystals in the designated outdoor area. The kids aren’t the only ones who will love this activity. Panning is available daily from opening until 4 p.m. Groups of six or more must reserve at least two weeks in advance.
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.
Remember that you are a guest at Kosay Kumeyaay Market, so be sure every member of your party behaves respectfully. Take the time to admire the beauty and craftsmanship of each item, from the traditional woven baskets to the paintings, pottery, jewelry, and clothes. You’ll be honoring the region’s original inhabitants by showing an interest in the techniques used to make these items and the people who made them.
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.
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
- 4010 Twiggs St, San Diego, CA 92110
- (619) 278-0955
- Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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