They used to be called "factory outlet" stores and located in non-descript, glorified strip malls. Boy, have things changed. Today, San Diego's outlet malls are impressive retail complexes that rival your traditional regional shopping mall. And the outlet malls offer you high-profile brands in their own dedicated stores, though to be honest, not all of them are "outlet" stores.
You'll want to do your research to see which stores are similar to their mainstream retail locations and which are offering great bargains.
Although, if you feel like you're getting a bargain, then that's all that matters, right? Here are the top places in San Diego to go hunting for these outlet mall deals.
Las Americas Premium Outlets in San Diego
Las Americas is an impressive outlet mall that is Latin-themed in architecture. This sprawling complex is situated right next to the Mexico border and offers well over 125 stores to fill every designer addict's need. Find impressive savings at Adidas, bebe, Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gap Outlet, Guess, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Sony and more. Take the last U.S exit to Camino de la Plaza. Las Americas Premium Outlets is then located at 4211 Camino de la Plaza in San Diego. You can reach the mall by phone at (619) 934-8400.
Carlsbad Premium Outlets in North County San Diego
Carlsbad Premium Outlets is another sprawling complex serving the north county.
With 90 stores in an attractive setting, next to the Carlsbad Flower Fields, this outlet center is heavy on the designer names. Find impressive savings at Banana Republic, Barneys New York, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Crate and Barrel, Juicy Couture, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren, Theory, Tommy Hilfiger and more.
Carlsbad Premium Outlets is located at 5620 Paseo del Norte in Carlsbad, right off the Palomar Airport Road Exit from the I-5 freeway. Contact the mall at (760) 804-9000.
Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine
Viejas Outlet Center, located across from the Viejas Casino, is the county's first of the dressed up outlet centers. The Native American theme and meandering walkways and gardens lend to a more serene shopping experience (if that's at all possible). The shops are your usual assortment of outlet standbys (Hilfiger, Gap, Nike), but it's worth the drive to Alpine for the ambiance. Plus, don't miss the special water shows, Power of Nightfire during summer and Legend of the Ice Princess show during the holidays. Also during the holidays, Viejas Outlet Center has a large outdoor skating rink. Oh yeah, and you can hit the casino if you still have dough after shopping. Viewers Outlet Center is located at 5000 Willows Road in Alpine, and you can call it at 800-847-6537.
Lake Elsinore Outlets in Lake Elsinore
Lake Elsinore Outlets is situated in the heart of the Inland Empire, conveniently located off Interstate 15 less than an hour north of inland San Diego. Located in Lake Elsinore just north of Temecula, the Lake Elsinore Outlets mall isn't as flashy as the newer outlet malls like Carlsbad and Las Americas in San Diego County.
In fact, it's more like the old school outlet centers - a glorified strip mall just off the freeway. But it still has your name brand stores, over 75 of them including Gap, Guess, Liz Claiborne, Nike and Old Navy. Lake Elsinore Outlets is located at 17600 Collier Avenue in Lake Elsinore. Call the mall at 951-245-0087.
Updated by Gina Tarnacki on May 9, 2016.