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Shopping The Local Outlet Centers

San Diego's Outlet Centers Are Designer Brand Heaven

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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 centers are impressive retail complexes that rival your traditional regional shopping mall. And they offer you high-profile brands in their own dedicated stores, though to be honest, not all of them are "outlet" stores.

In fact, from my experience, I don't see a huge difference in discounts offered from any good sale at your traditional retail store. In fact, some of the prices seem awfully, well, retail. Nonetheless, many shoppers swear to outlet centers, attributing much to the perception that they're getting a discount on name brands. And if you feel like you're getting a bargain, then that's all that matters, right?

Las Americas Premium Outlets
Las Americas is the county's newest outlet center and it is an impressive one indeed. Latin themed in architecture, this sprawling complex next to the Mexico border offers well over 125 stores to fill every designer addict's need. Find impressive savings at Adidas, 2b 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 4211 Camino de la Plaza, San Diego, CA 92173, (619) 934-8400.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets
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, 5620 Paseo del Norte, Suite 100, Carlsbad, CA 92008, (760) 804-9000.

Viejas Outlet Center
Viejas Outlet Center, located across from the Viejas Casino, is the county's first of the dressed up outlet centers. And it still is the best in terms of ambience. The Native American theme and meandering walkways and gardens lend to a more serene shopping experience, if that's at all possible. But it works. The shops are your usual assortment of outlet standbys (Hilfiger, Gap, Nike), but it's worth the drive to Alpine. 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 also has a large outdoor skating rink. Oh yeah, and you can hit the casino if you still have dough after shopping. 5000 Willows Rd. Alpine, CA 91901.

San Diego Factory Outlet Center
The first of San Diego's outlet centers, the Factory Outlet has fallen somewhat on hard times with the opening of the flashier Las Americas right across the street. Mainly because most of the original tenants abandoned this strip mall for the swankier Las Americas digs. But there are still a few shops where you can find bargains. 4498-B Camino de la Plaza, San Ysidro, CA 92173.

Lake Elsinore Outlets
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 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 Claiborn, Nike and Old Navy. 17600 Collier Avenue, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530, 951-245-0087.

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