Explore shopping destinations with unique finds. Here, quaint towns equate to sweet small boutiques catering to one-of-a-kind and handmade treasures, whereas outlet centers specializing in deals for the family are a destination unto themselves.
All shopping destinations follow state and local guidelines for safety including 6’ social distancing and wearing of face masks.
MONTEREY BAY REGION
With over 145 stores and restaurants, Gilroy Premium Outlets is one of Northern California’s largest outlet centers. Enjoy 25-65% savings on top designer brands like Ann Taylor, Coach, Gap, H&M, Hugo Boss, J.Crew, Kate Space, Lucky Brand, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, and more. Be sure to stop by the California Welcome Center Gilroy for travel tips and great gifts from Gilroy and the Golden State!
Keep it local, distinctive, and iconic when you shop in Santa Cruz County. Choose a cozy hoodie from O’Neill Surf Shop, a favorite vintage from a boutique winery, handcrafted jewelry from The Craft Gallery, a bottle of artisan gin from Venus Spirits, or a stylish succulent arrangement from Dig Gardens. Local glass artist Ann Morhauser’s Annieglass Studios in Watsonville is where you will find a designer platter, place setting, and more.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is home to eclectic fashion finds and specialty brands with shops catered towards everyone including kids, dogs, families, and foodies alike. Spend the day exploring locally-owned boutiques and fashion forward brands in Carmel Plaza, or by walking around the European-style village and its secret passageways.
Monterey Bay Aquarium recently launched an exclusive collection based on marine life illustrations by Executive Director Julie Packard. The Sea Sketches Collection by Julie Packard features accessories and wares made using environmentally-sustainable materials and many produced by woman-owned companies. The new collection also reflects a commitment to protecting ocean health and advancing social justice.
The Aquarium partnered with female makers to transform Julie’s art into sustainable products. For example, the scarves and tea towels are made in India by woman-owned and Virginia-based Nina J Design Studios. It employs only women artisans, paying fair wages so they can support their families and pursue careers as artisans and crafters. The collection is available online. All proceeds support the non-profit organization and help accomplish its mission to inspire conservation of the ocean, especially during these challenging times.
Housed in repurposed Redwood water tanks, COAST Big Sur originally started in the late 1950s as a place for local artists to exhibit and sell their creations. Now this shop and gallery nestled along Highway 1 is packed with one-of-a-kind gifts, art, and elevated casual cuisine – from picnic-inspired items to local beer and wine. Located at the site of iconic Nepenthe Restaurant, The Phoenix Shop at Nepenthe offers curated gift sets, local art, books from local artists, and more. Don’t miss themed items – like the California Gift Set – with everything from coasters and pint glasses to plates and note cards, making gifting a breeze.
If you want to keep the ocean clean and empower women, shop Big Sur Dry Goods, a modern-day general store where every item is both plastic-free and from woman-owned brands. The inventory includes essentials from toothpaste and laundry detergent to more indulgent purchases, like jewelry, handbags and scarves. Bookworms will find themselves at home at the cozy library and former home of author Henry Miller. Visitors to Henry Miller Library not only learn more about Miller’s life, but also peruse (and purchase from) the collection of books about Big Sur’s natural and cultural history, as well as local art and music.
SAN LUIS OBISPO REGION
There are no chain stores in Cambria, which means that every store, restaurant, and lodging property is completely unique! The treasures awaiting your discovery in Cambria are just as distinctive, no matter what you’re searching for. Whether searching for antiques in the East Village or perusing boutiques in the West Village, you’ll find it in Cambria! One example is Stepladder Ranch & Creamery where they make small-batch cheeses with milk from their own herd of LaMancha goats, and cow’s milk cheeses from milk sourced from the dairy science program at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. You’ll have plenty of chances to shop at Linn’s. There’s Linn’s Gourmet Goods, Linn’s Easy As Pie Shop & Cafe, Linn’s A La Care Boutique & Books, and Linn’s Fruit Bin Farmstore.
San Luis Obispo
Straight from the farm: SLO CAL is an epicenter of agriculture and visitors can shop straight from the farms across the county. Whether that’s in-person (safely) or online, consider getting unique gifts from Avila Valley Barn – a unique farmers market type farm stand with a wide selection of local and California-based products. Great for the whole family, there offer hayrides, farm animals to feed, pony rides (May-Nov), pumpkin patch (Sep-Nov), hay maze (Oct), Christmas trees, and more. If it’s relaxation and calm you seek, Len Collective features a curated selection of handmade jewelry, natural apothecary, books, cards, home fragrance, gifts baskets and more.
With a mission to provide fair wages and sustainable employment for skilled artisans, Humankind Fair Trade works with artisan groups from nearly 40 different countries who handcraft apparel, accessories, home goods, and gifts of all kinds. Experience life on a farm. The Giving Tree Farm in nearby Santa Margarita has goats, alpacas, turkeys, and pot-bellied pigs to see. Lotions, goat milk soap and lip balms to purchase, and you can even take part in a workshop. In Atascadero, Life Elements offers products made of ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Stroll through local artisan shops at the Paso Market Walk, where you will find delicious treats (Just Baked is a must), great gifts at the Paso Wine Merchant and yummy places to grab a bite to eat or purchase gift cards for friends. Swing by and savor a taste of the Central Coast! Spread over fifteen acres, orchards at Kiler Ridge Olive Farm are home to seven different Italian olive tree varietals. Beyond their olive oils, they also offer gift boxes, items for bath and home made with Kiler Ridge EVOO.
Firefly in downtown Paso Robles, is a unique shop located across the street from the beautiful downtown city park. It is run by an artsy mother-daughter duo and has been a favorite among locals and tourists since 2006. Specializing in unique gifts, handmade jewelry and vintage inspired fashion, you’ll find everything from cocktail dresses to USA made accessories.
If you’re looking for local goods and provisions for pantry and home, look no further than General Store Paso Robles. They have it all – spices, coffees, sweets, books, puzzles, and even items for your pets. Just a few minutes away in Templeton, Jack Creek Farms focuses on sustainable agriculture and offers tasty gifts like their 100% pure raw varietal honey, seasonings, and gift baskets.
Pismo Beach Premium Outlets is home to 30+ stores including Nike, Coach, kate spade new york, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Vans and Levis. Nestled just off the 101 freeway, the center also features the newly remodeled California Welcome Center which offers travel information/brochures, new touch screen information kiosk, maps, hotel information and referrals, restrooms, picnic area, pet friendly, refreshments, nearby restaurants and RV parking.
Nestled in the historic village of Arroyo Grande, The Hive offers honey, teas, CBD, lotions, soaps, and other wellness items. It also home to a variety of creative workshops.
SANTA BARBARA REGION
Old Town Orcutt
For local shopping spots in Santa Maria Valley, look no further than Old Town Orcutt. Whether you’re looking for gifts, antiques, furniture or fashion, an easy stroll through town is all you need to get your fix. Favorites include Deja Vu Antiques, Vintage Veranda, Old Town Market, Parable Candle Company and, the latest arrival, Steller Home. Plus, there’s no shortage of good eats and good wine (or beer!) when you’re ready to recharge.
Solvang’s picturesque village lanes, framed by Northern European-style architecture, are now even more walkable – and shop-able: through October 2021, Solvang’s main thoroughfare of Copenhagen Drive will be closed to vehicular traffic, so the historic street’s many sights and delicious treats may be enjoyed in a safer setting. Solvang boasts shopping opportunities for all occasions, holidays and ages, with unique-to-Solvang finds from carefully-curated selections of toys, books, art, gourmet gifts, wine, memorable souvenirs and more.
Camarillo Premium Outlets is the must-stop destination for all things shopping on the Central Coast. This open-air shopping destination conveniently located right off the 101 freeway in Camarillo, CA and boasts an impressive selection of brand name stores at savings of up to 65%. With over 150+ featured retailers including Nike, Coach, Michael Kors, adidas, kate spade new york, Vans, The North Face, Under Armor, Disney Store, H&M, O’Neill, Volcom, UGG and new luxe stores including Salvatore Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs, Versace and Jimmy Choo, Camarillo Premium Outlets provides a great shopping experience for the entire family.
Old Town Camarillo is a hidden gem located in the heart of Camarillo. Old Town offers a variety of dining and shopping options in a charming setting. Score a deal at one of the many bargain thrift stores for affordable and one-of-kind finds. Additionally, Old Town offers studios, exhibitions, cultural festivals, special events, and more to enjoy in between shopping.
The Collection at RiverPark is a premier shopping and entertainment center, located just off Highway 101 in Oxnard. Home to nearly 30 retailers from Forever 21 and H&M to White House Black Market and Windsor, the center is also home to A-list celebrity attracting Levity Live, Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen, a movie theater, restaurants and attractions.
If you’re looking for something a little more mellow, The Annex Food Hall has an assortment of American and multicultural restaurants from which to choose. While you’re there, visit Sueño Jewelry for custom jewelery. Or head to Downtown Oxnard where thrift shoppers will find an eco-friendly urban shopping paradise at Streets of Vintage.
Smell the ocean breeze and admire the waving palm trees while shopping Downtown Ventura. The city’s locally owned shops specialize in everything from books to guitars to gourmet olive oil. Don’t worry—there are also plenty of clothing boutiques offering modern and vintage designs. And peppered among the shops are restaurants, breweries, pubs and cafes serving burgers, seafood, and cuisine from around the world.
Nestled in the charming beach town of Port Hueneme is Mandalay Village Marketplace, a welcoming collection of shops, restaurants, health studios and a designer jeweler. This is the place to go for shopping and dining after a surf or stroll by the Port Hueneme Beach Pier. If surfing isn’t your vibe, sign up for a round of weight lifting, kickboxing or even Brazilian jiu jitsu at one of the marketplace’s gyms.
To further assist you in planning your Central Coast Road Trip, check out these helpful Itineraries.
Discover all of California’s Central Coast Regions.