Shop til you Drop



San Diego is heaven on earth for shoppers. Spacious malls; exclusive boutiques; antique shops; galleries and museum stores; consignment stores-you name it, and you'll likely find it here. One popular way to shop is at the local outlet centers, where top retailers offer bargain merchandise to savvy buyers. In the following itinerary, you'll visit three of our favorite destinations. Begin your day at Las Americas Premium Outlets, just down the freeway from central San Diego in San Ysidro. And be sure to save some cash for an afternoon and evening at Viejas Outlet Center, part of a popular Indian gaming complex in the hills east of San Diego. And for those of you heading up the coast to north San Diego County, Carlsbad Premium Outlets is not to be missed.

Morning

An easy 15-minute drive from downtown San Diego will bring you to Las Americas Premium Outlets, an expansive discount outlet mall just this side of the U.S.-Mexico border. With more than 100 stores offering merchandise in every category imaginable, this series of stores practically demands a day for itself. For this half-day visit, you'll need to plan ahead. Grab a free map/store directory on your way in, then plan to hit your favorite 10 or 12 destinations. The most impressive selection can be found at Neiman Marcus Last Call, where bargains from this highbrow retailer can be found in every department. Designer clothing and accessories for men and women can be marked down as much as 75 percent of their original price, which means trendy outfits from Armani, Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana and other big names sell for hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars. (We've seen San Diego socialites buying party outfits here.) Last Call also offers a big selection of luggage, furniture and housewares. Elsewhere in the open air mall, you'll find big name shoe and clothing suppliers (Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, BCBG Max Azria, Adidas, Lucky Brand, and Ann Taylor, to name a few) as well as stores specializing in cosmetics, accessories, leather goods, jewelry, and even a Latin music shop. This is a terrific place to pick up unusual gifts for friends and family back home. There's plenty of casual dining to be had, parking is plentiful, and the facilities are clean and spacious. You may even want to return another day! Las Americas Premium Outlets

Afternoon/evening

After a late lunch at the mall, leave the bustle of city life behind with a drive to the Viejas Outlet Center in east San Diego county. No need to hurry: the mall is open until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday (7 p.m. Sundays). Located in the hills of Alpine, the center is part of a popular Indian gaming casino and entertainment venue. If you can resist the call of the slot machines and other games, you won't have to gamble on finding bargains - there are deals aplenty at more than 50 shops and stores. Before you buy, take some time to savor the peaceful surroundings at this oasis of Native American architecture and naturalistic landscaping - it's one of the county's loveliest shopping centers. Then wander the walkways to places like Borders Books, Samsonite, Jones New York, KB Toys, Guess, Liz Claiborne, Perry Ellis, Nine West, and countless others. Visit the outlet's Web site ahead of time to print out coupons for numerous store and dining discounts. In addition to fast-food eateries (plus ice cream with mix-ins at Cold Stone Creamery), the adjacent casino offers sit-down restaurants including a steakhouse, a buffet, and an old-fashioned diner. Note: You must be over 18 to enter the casino or its restaurants between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Viejas Outlet Center

Horton Plaza

Viejas Outlet Center