If you’re looking for the best shopping mall in San Diego, Westfield UTC mall is it. An extensive renovation transitioned the mall to a resort-like lifestyle complex with activities that extend far beyond retail therapy. And, like a resort, you need to understand the services and amenities on offer to enjoy your stay to the fullest.
I dare say that even frequent shoppers may not be aware of everything I’m about to mention. I wasn’t, and I’ve been shopping and dining at this outdoor mall since my freshman year at UC San Diego when it was called the mall at University Towne Center. (I’ll let you guess how long ago that was.)
Masks Are Required
First, let’s talk about visiting in today’s world. Right now, masks are required to shop around Westfield UTC mall. If you’re eating or drinking, you may take it off. I’m pleased to report that since the mall reopened, I’ve seen nearly everyone adhere to these rules.
TIP:Near Zara, you can purchase Westfield UTC masks and No Touch keys that help you open doors and use elevator buttons without physically touching them.
You Can Text Your Questions
Did you know that you can text 858-914-2752 with questions every day during center hours and get an instant response from Westfield UTC?
Save Time with Valet Parking
During the sale season especially, you’ll want to know where to find valet parking. There is a four-lane valet drive-up that you access on La Jolla Village Drive next to Javier’s and Larsen’s Steakhouse. You’ll look for the turn-in right after crossing Genesee Avenue.
It’s actually not as pricey as you might think. Currently, the $8 flat rate includes up to four hours, with an additional $2 per hour fee after that up to a daily maximum of $20 (plus optional gratuities, of course). Rates are always subject to change so check before you go.
Seasons 52 restaurant guests enjoy their own valet option. You can pull directly up to the restaurant to access the valet station here during restaurant hours (and leave your car if you need to go shopping after you eat).
Know Where to Get Your Uber
A designated Uber drop-off and pick-up station is located next to Room and Board.
Charge Your Electric Car
Inside the Genesee parking structure, you’ll find a row of charging stations that cost $1 per hour up to four hours.
Join Westfield Rewards
You’ll need to register your credit card for Westfield Rewards. When you do, you’ll earn one point per dollar spent. After accumulating 1000 points, you’ll receive a $25 credit to your account.
TIP:Make sure to always keep your credit card updated. Our number changed recently and I lost a lot of points!
Check Hours Before You Go
Right now especially, it’s important to check hours before you go. In normal times, Westfield UTC mall opens at 10 a.m. on most days but it’s currently opening at 11 a.m., with some stores opening later than that.
Stop by the Concierge Desk
As an avid user of concierge teams at luxury hotels, I appreciate the same level of service at my favorite shopping mall. If you need a gift for someone or help with finding a particular store, the Westfield UTC mall concierge is here to help.
Walk Your Dog and Visit the Bark Park
It’s not uncommon to see plenty of leashed four-legged friends at Westfield UTC mall. In addition to being a lovely place for a walk, you can stop into the fenced, off-leash Bark Park dog park near the Dining Terrace food court. Look for Tender Greens restaurant and walk downhill to reach it.
Be mindful that not all retailers allow dogs inside and that you would not take dogs other than service animals inside the food court (I’ve never seen a dog inside of a restaurant at Westfield UTC mall).
Keep Devices Charged
Enter the Dining Terrace and on the right side, you’ll also find a ChargeItSpot charging station with cords near Royal India, across from Rubio’s.
Use Curbside Pickup at Westfield UTC Mall
Some Westfield UTC stores currently offer a curbside pickup service. Place an order online or directly with participating stores and you’ll receive instructions for how to utilize curbside pickup.
Admire the Art Collection
Westfield UTC mall partnered with the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) on an art program that involves nine installations over the course of three years for free public viewing.
If you keep an eye out, you’ll notice that art is everywhere in the mall from the bathroom hallways to sculptures in the fountains. Many of these pieces are by San Diego artists. During normal times, the MCASD ArtLab family workshops are held at the mall once a quarter for free.
Cozy Up to the Fire Pits
Sprinkled throughout the mall are seating areas with fire pits where you can warm up during the evening.
Book Supervised Play Time for the Kids
If you’d like a little “me time” to shop or enjoy a quiet meal, check the G3Kids schedule (make sure that you are looking at the Westfield UTC mall location) to see what kind of drop-in or camp programs are available during your visit. (I’ve also featured G3Kids on my list of things to do in La Jolla with kids.)
Run Through the Splash Pad (Temporarily Closed)
Be prepared for the kids to get wet. The temptation to run through the splash pad near Macy’s and 85 Degrees Bakery will be too great especially on a sunny day. Luckily for parents, this area is also home to quite a bit of lounge seating and several places to grab a coffee, snack or Pressed Juice.
TIP:Outdoor family showers and a family restroom are located adjacent to the Splash Pad and Playground area.
Plan Time for the Playground (Temporarily Closed)
Westfield UTC mall does a nice job of making shopping easier for families. Near Macy’s and the Splash Pad, you’ll also find the sea creature play structure and activities that make up the Westfield Play Space.
During normal times, kids are climbing, crawling, jumping, and having a blast. I know that some specifically request to go to the mall specifically to play!
Unwind in the Family Lounge
The Family Lounge can be accessed from inside the food court and is a nice, usually quiet place to take a break and feed a baby. Here you’ll find nursing stations, changing tables, toys, and kid-friendly
TIP:The Family Lounge is open but expect offerings inside to be temporarily modified.
Listen to Live Music
Usually, live musicians play in the outdoor Palm Plaza area in afternoon from 12–2 p.m. in Plaza Unplugged mini-concerts that add an upbeat vibe to your shopping experience. Music tends to skew family-friendly, acoustic, and uplifting.
Enjoy Plenty of Patio Dining
Have no fear our San Diego weather means that we’ve always had plenty of al fresco dining. So, Westfield UTC restaurants are already, well, ready!
Restaurants offering patio seating include:
- Corner Bakery Cafe
- Din Tai Fung
- Larsen’s Steakhouse
- Queenstown Bistro
- Seasons 52
- Shake Shack
- Tender Greens
- The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
- True Food Kitchen
- Veggie Grill
In addition, you can order take-out from any of the other restaurants and grab a seat at one of the many comfy lounge areas.
There Is a Lost and Found
If you’ve accidentally left your phone on a shelf while browsing merchandise or maybe accidentally forgot to pick up a shopping bag after getting up from your restaurant table, rest assured that there is a central lost and found that you can check with.
First, if you remember where you left the item, head back to that store or restaurant. If you aren’t sure, locate a mall security guard or head to the concierge and they’ll connect you with the lost and found.
*Top photo is courtesy of Westfield UTC.