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Shopping in Northern California
Shopping in Northern California: Farmer’s Markets, Outlet Malls, and Designer Boutiques
Leave plenty of room in your suitcase for souvenirs when you visit Northern California. Buy local wildflower honey and just-picked peaches at farmer’s markets. Find for the hottest designer fashions and incredible outlet deals. Explore charming downtown neighborhoods, laid-back beach towns, and super-chic indoor malls. Discover the best shopping destinations for every budget and style.
San Francisco: A True Shopper’s Paradise
The Bay Area overflows with all kinds of shops and stores that showcase its rich diversity. Union Square is the San Francisco’s most famous shop-‘til-you-drop destination. Discover massive department stores, a nine-story mall, and street after street filled with designer stores and boutiques. Browse touristy shops for cool California souvenirs at Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Looking for something edgy? Find trendsetting fashions in SoMa (South of Market) along with great bookstores and design shops. Head to Haight for funky boutiques and to Noe Valley for home goods and décor.
Silicon Valley Shopping: Outdoor Markets and Indoor Malls
From sleek indoor malls to European-style open-air markets, this affluent region really loves to shop. Enjoy pedestrian-friendly, outdoor shopping at upscale Santana Row (San Jose) and Stanford Shopping Mall (Palo Alto). For big name brands, traditional indoor shopping centers are your best bet. Some of the biggest malls are the Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose, Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo, and the Great Mall in Milpitas. For a mix of local boutiques and national chains, head to downtown shopping districts in Los Gatos, Campbell, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Willow Glen.
Cool Coastal Enclaves: Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz
Window shopping is an art form on Santa Barbara’s State Street. Walkways lined with blooming flowers and gurgling fountains wind their way past luxury shops and specialty boutiques. Be sure to seek out La Arcada, a quaint hidden gem shopping center filled with locally owned stores, indie art galleries, and trendy restaurants. In Santa Cruz, fill up your beach bag with boho bathing suits and eclectic accessories. Downtown’s Pacific Avenue is packed with funky finds and is the perfect place to pick up a wetsuit or a new pair of flip-flops.
Farmer’s Markets: Enliven All of Your Senses
No trip to Northern California is complete without a morning spent lingering at a farmer’s market. Strolling past tables stacked with the freshest fruits and vegetables is a wonderful way to truly comprehend the agricultural bounty of the state. Beyond the produce – often organic – farmer’s markets sell sustainable meats, artisan cheeses, colorful flower bouquets, and ready-to-eat gourmet items. Grab a latte from a local roaster and enjoy live music at many markets. Buy fine olive oil and honey to take home. Sample just-picked strawberries, peas, and pistachios. You’ll find farmer’s markets everywhere across the region, but some of the best include Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market (San Francisco), Sebastopol Farmer’s Market (Sonoma County), and Marin Farmer’s Market (San Rafael).
Outlet Centers: Fantastic Discounts on Designer Goods
Love to find deals on designer merch? Northern California is a hotbed of factory outlet malls that sell discounted off-season and surplus goods. One of the biggest is Vacaville Premium Outlets, with over 100 stores to choose from. You can also hunt for bargains at American Tin Cannery Factory Outlets in Pacific Grove, Napa Premium Outlets, Gilroy Premium Outlets, and Prime Outlets in Pismo Beach.
Antiques and Flea Markets: Vintage Treasures and Funky Finds
Northern California’s small towns are bursting with antiques, from Bakelite jewelry to Native American textiles to Asian porcelain. It’s also easy to find pop culture memorabilia, like old movie posters and games. Check out the Sacramento Antique Faire, Santa Cruz Antique Faire, and the Oregon Street Antique Mall (Redding). Branch out to flea markets for a much larger selection of everything under the sun. Bring cash and get ready to bargain at the Berkeley Flea Market, San Jose Flea Market, Tahoe Flea Market, and San Juan Bautista Peddlers Fair.
Our Favorite Places to Shop
Oxbow Public Market
Napa Valley is one of the most oft-visited regions in California. The Oxbow Public Market greets all Napa visitors and residents with a delicious assortment of food, wine, desserts, and pantry essentials. Explore over 25 shops and bakeries that range from offering chocolates, coffee, seafood.
Don’t miss the Napa Farmers Market, held every Tuesday and Saturday morning from May to October, located in the Oxbow parking lot. You can also feel like a part of the local scene during Locals Night, held every Tuesday evening and featuring special meals from this Bay Area market.
Vacaville Premium Outlets
Providing hundreds of name brand shopping options, Vacaville Premium Outlets are located in the Gold Country community of Vacaville.
San Francisco’s Best Shopping: Union Square
Shop for unique treasures and souvenirs that speak to your personal style at Union Square, San Francisco’s most exciting shopping destination. Situated in the heart of the city, Union Square refers to an entire neighborhood. It’s a vibrant cultural hotspot for theaters, music, restaurants, and most of all: shopping. Discover a massive diversity of retailers to explore. Have fun hunting through giant department stores, popular national chains, and designer boutiques – it’s all right here at Union Square.
Start at Westfield San Francisco Centre, a massive indoor mall with nine stories of shops and restaurants. Beneath its fabulous dome-covered atrium, you’ll find more than 170 shops to explore including Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. Right outside near Union Square Park are more large-scale department stores: Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Barney’s. You can also hit up the big brands like Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, and HandM.
Looking for designer apparel? Head to Maiden Lane, a pedestrian-only thoroughfare that is home to Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and other high-end boutiques. Discover rare treasures in the neighborhood’s antique stores and at jewelry shops like Tiffany’s. For home décor, visit Crate and Barrel, Baccarat, and Sur La Table. Shop until you drop at Union Square.
Galt is a charming and quaint city in the Central Valley of California. The Galt Market is a sterling open-air market, located in downtown Galt. Stroll the market to browse the fresh produce, retail items and products from over 400 vendors, on ten acres. Take a break from shopping and enjoy a delicious meal from one of the many choices along Food Row.
Whether it's Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese or American food, you won't go home hungry. Market Attendants also provide carry-out service if you need help loading your items in your car.
Visitors on Tuesday will find wholesalers and retailers, while Wednesday showcases new merchandise, antiques, collectibles, garage sale vendors and fresh produce.
With countless shopping, dining and entertainment options, Camel Village is the downtown business district of the central California coast community of Carmel. On your next visit to Carmel or Carmel-by-the-Sea, spend some quality time touring the shops, restaurants, and museums at Carmel Village.
Plan your visit to Carmel Village around some of the premier local events and festivals. In early May, don't miss the annual Winemakers' Celebration, and the annual Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout. In mid-May, be sure to check out the annual Carmel Art Festival. The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is another top event in mid-May.