This bustling commercial district of Mission Valley, easily accessed from all of San Diego’s neighborhoods, is so much more than shopping malls (though it has its share of those, and they are stacked with fabulous shops and plenty of delicious eats). You’ll also find a bit of California history, well-designed golf links, skydiving (no airplane necessary), and miles of some of San Diego’s favorite hiking trails.
Start right at the beginning! Much of California’s modern history begins in Mission Valley. The Spanish established their first settlement on the West Coast of what is today the United States on top of nearby Presidio Hill. But after five years they moved its location seven miles up the San Diego River, in Mission Valley. It has remained here ever since (and was rebuilt in 1931), a reminder of California’s past, surrounded by lush gardens and offering visitors glimpses of living quarters, period craftmanship, and other relics.
Time for some crab eggs benedict? Head to Breakfast Republic, where you can go classic with options like bacon-cheddar-sausage omelets or adventurous with breakfast hot dogs (wrapped in bacon and piled with toppings) or Oreo cookie pancakes.
Tee time! Whether you play nine holes or a full 18, you’ll find this course blends seamlessly into its surroundings, creating a quiet respite in a bustling part of town.
For more of an adrenaline-filled activity, strap on some safety goggles and go skydiving. No airplane is necessary with iFly’s 50-foot-tall wind tunnel, where an instructor will show adventurous souls (aged “3 to 103,” the company says) how to float on a pillar of air.
All the Eats You Could Ask For
When you come down, you might be famished. Luckily Mission Valley is stacked with tasty food options, ranging from In-n-Out Burger to fast casual to fancy. Grab cheeseburgers at Shake Shack or simple salads topped with tasty cuts of meat at Tendergreens. A San Diego favorite, Puesto is known for its high-end but tacos and margaritas in an artful restaurant setting. To see a show the whole family will love, watch the theatrical chefs at Benihana. They make playing with food quite acceptable.
Other options include handmade Italian cuisine at North Italia, barbecue-centric chain Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill, pizza and other staples at Crust Kitchen, as well as Yard House Restaurant, Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, California Fish Grill, Grater Grilled Cheese and more.
Mission Valley is a case study in contrasts. Beyond the shops and restaurants is a huge swath of wilderness home to some of San Diego’s most oft-trod hikes. With its 60 miles of trails and peaks up to 1,500 feet, Mission Trails feels worlds away.
With so many eateries and top fashion brands, it’s no wonder San Diego comes here to shop.
The list of shops at Fashion Valley shopping mall is long indeed. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it amidst the palm trees in this beautiful, multi-level outdoor setting. Boutiques range from Kate Spade and Louis Vuitton to Urban Outfitters, Pottery Barn, and Nordstrom. Prepare for a food experience far from the standard mall food court with offerings like Blanco Tacos and Tequila, health-conscious plates at True Food Kitchen, and the snazzy So Sushi. Inside Nordstrom, pop into Marketplace Cafe for pizza, paninis, and desserts.
At nearby Westfield Mission Valley, catch a flick at AMC Theaters and browse racks at Bloomingdale’s The Outlet Store, Vans, American Eagle Outfitters, Express, and more. For an upscale sports bar with Asian-influenced eats, hit up Yard House.