San Ysidro is home to four HUGE factory outlet centers at the international border separating Mexico from the United States. With over 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians passing through the San Ysidro Port of Entry at San Ysidro each day makes San Ysidro the busiest international border crossing in the world. This port of entry is also a haven for smart shoppers who come here by the thousands each day to shop at the largest factory outlet center on the west coast of the United States.
To put the magnitude of these numbers into perspective, one of every ten people entering the U.S. via sea, air or land enter through the San Ysidro Port of entry. Thus the San Ysidro border crossing processes more people annually than the Los Angeles International Airport, which is the fifth busiest airport in the U.S.
The significance of this economic interdependence between the San Diego Region and Baja California Mexico is totally impressive in that $7 million is spent daily in San Diego by Mexicans coming to the U.S. to shop and dine. And they spend an average of $170 per shopping trip. So if thousands of people are crossing the border daily to shop and dine in San Ysidro, so should you! They are coming to both the historic San Ysidro Boulevard Shopping District and to the largest factory outlet center on the west coast of the United States. And these frequent shoppers are reaping savings of 25 to 65% off retail prices at this factory outlet centers. This is a huge demonstration that you should be making this pilgrimage to San Ysidro often as well. It’s a fun-filled excursion, well worth your time and will make your pocket book happy too!
How to Get to San Ysidro
Getting to San Ysidro by car from the U.S. is as simple as getting on either the Interstate 5 Freeway or the 805 Freeway and heading south. Just before you reach the border you will see a big sign on the right side of the freeway that reads Last U.S. Exit Parking. Get off here and take a left at the first signal to historic San Ysidro or take a right onto Camino de la Plaza and you will be at the entrance to the largest factory outlet center on the West Coast of the United States.
Being the international transportation hub that it is, you can also access this border community by rail via the “Blue Line” Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Trolley. The sleek fire engine red San Diego Trolley makes frequent stops back and forth to the border throughout the day. One way fare is ($2.50) for adults (depending on the distance traveled). See the Welcome chapter in this book. Plus, taxi cabs line the street along San Ysidro Boulevard and are always eager to take you to San Ysidro or back to where you came from.
A special service that gets rave reviews from the many pedestrians who have arrived in San Ysidro by trolley or by foot when crossing the border into the U. S. are the fleet of pedicabs that eagerly wait for passengers. They will be happy to take you to either the historic San Ysidro Shopping District or to the outlet centers across the freeway or back to their car parked at the Border Station Parking Lot (1).
Outlet Shopping Centers
To meet the needs of these of these tens of thousands of daily shoppers is the beautiful modern Las Americas (3), which is the largest Factory Outlet Center on the West Coast of the United States. It’s ideally located within a block of the international border crossing on Camino de la Plaza (see map). And here clustered along side and across the street from Las Americas (3) are two smaller outlet centers adding to the magnitude of the offering. But Las Americas is undoubtedly the showpiece of this incredible offering.
Just steps from the international border you’ll find a true outlet shopping mecca. It’s Las Americas Premium Outlets®, (3) located at 4211 Camino de la Plaza (619-934-8400), home to an incredible collection of 125 designer and name-brand outlet stores that offer something for everyone. This attractive outdoor center is part of the family of Premium Outlet Centers® with locations across the United States, Mexico, Japan and Korea. Las Americas Premium Outlets is open Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–7 p.m. with extended hours for select sales and holidays. Las Americas Premium Outlets is conveniently located just 20 minutes south of downtown San Diego. From I-5, take the Dairy Mart Road exit, go one-eighth mile and turn left onto Camino de la Plaza. The center is one mile on the right. From I-805, exit Camino de la Plaza, the last exit before the international border crossing into Mexico. Turn right and go one-eighth mile, the center is on the left.
Las Americas Premium Outlets is well known on both sides of the border as a top shopping destination for finding quality at unbelievable savings. You’ll find the looks you love for less at Ann Taylor, 2b bebe, Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gap Outlet, Guess, Izod, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, MaxStudio.com, Nine West, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Bahama, Tommy Hilfiger and many others. The most popular names in sports and sportswear are all here and the savings are impressive. You’ll find Adidas, Converse, Hurley, Nautica, New Balance, Nike, O’Neill, Puma, Skechers and Vans. For everything for kids, head to The Children’s Place Outlet, Disney Store Outlet, Gymboree and Stride Rite, Keds and Sperry. In addition to great clothes, you’ll find savings at a wide range of stores. Be sure to check out the beautiful jewelry at Daniel’s Jewelers, Swarovski and Zales Outlet. Don’t miss a visit to UETA Duty Free which offers duty-free and tax-free savings on a wide variety of fragrances, accessories, tobacco products, liquor and beer.
Save time to eat at one of the many restaurants and eateries including Achiote’s, a Mexican restaurant with an authentic Tijuana flavor, IHOP, Starbucks Coffee, Subway and more. Plus there’s a large food court with a wide variety for all tastes. Las Americas Premium Outlets offers many customer services including stroller and wheelchair rentals. Gift Cards, which are accepted at all stores, can be purchased at the Information Center.
Las Americas Premium Outlets offers savings of 25 to 65 percent every day and has annual sales during the weekends of Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Columbus Day for even greater savings. Plus, the famous After Thanksgiving Weekend Sale featuring Midnight Madness kicks off at midnight as Thanksgiving ends and continues with special savings through Sunday. It’s a shopping event not to be missed.
Just to the east of Las Americas with a continuation of the same parking lot is the newest outlet center called The Plaza at the Border (7) located at 3951 Camino de la Plaza. This fantastic new shopping destination is located next to the busiest border crossing in the world and just west of the high-performing 560,000 sq. ft. Las Americas Premium Outlets. This 98,000 sq. ft. shopping center is anchored by Ross, TJ Maxx, Ulta, Fashion Q with other popular stores including the Vitamin Shoppe and M’s Clothing. And all are designed to compliment the other outlet center stores at the border.
Also look for The Plaza at the Border’s huge large electronic billboard (8) at the entrance to the Outlet Center District for daily bargains at The Plaza at the Border. Expect to find awesome deals every time you shop here.
Across the street is the San Ysidro Village Outlet Center (9) at 4498 Camino de la Plaza. This two block long outlet center was the first outlet center in San Diego. It’s across the street from the huge Las Americas Outlet Center.
Complimenting the outlet centers is the Bazaar at Border Station (1) which is ideally located in the Border Station Parking Lot (1). It has the look of a south-of-the-border open air market. This bazaar is a fun place to browse in search of colorful garments, souvenirs and useful gadgets at low prices.
Where to Dine
With 25 places to eat in San Ysidro you won’t go hungry. They range from good sit down restaurants to fast food places.
Achiote’s Mexican Restaurants (3) is a local favorite at Las Americas Shopping Center at 4419 Camino de la plaza (619-690-1494). Credit cards: MC, VISA.
Don Felix Cafe (11) at 143 W. San Ysidro Blvd. (619-428-9144). is the local no frills favorite when it comes to good, reasonably prices, Mexican food. Credit cards; MC, VISA.
IHOP (3) at 4291 Camino de la plaza (619-690-9411) is located in front of the Las Americans Factory Outlet Center. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
Sunrise Super Buffet (12) at 4550 Camino de la Plaza (619-662-2985) offers an outstanding Chinese buffet. Credit cards: MC, VISA.
Savvy day shoppers to Tijuana park their car at The Border Station Parking Lot (1), which is a 24 hours a day safe parking lot. And they take the fire engine red Mexicoach Bus (1) round trip to Tijuana and back. The buses leave every hour on the hour and costs ($4) one way and ($6) round trip.
If you are planning a longer excursion to Mexico, you should definitely read the SAN DIEGAN Ensenada Chapter. It will explain in detail how easy it is to get there via a modern toll road that hugs the coastline and the toll road only costs about ($6) dollars each way. Everyone who has ever been to Ensenada raves about this seaside resort town and so will you!
International Auto Rental
A popular source of transportation for traveling into Mexico is to rent a car and let them provide you with Mexican Insurance and a safe reliable car. The firm in San Ysidro you are looking for is the well-established firm aptly named International Car Rental (10) at 710 East San Ysidro Blvd. Suite D, San Ysidro (619-428-5100) [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Open Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Ask them about their new office at the 2495 Roll Dr. #112 Otay Mesa Border Crossing and their daily specials! Their fleet of automobiles includes vans, mini size cars to full size cars with air conditioning and all of the amenities you expect from a top automobile rental company. This well-established firm specializes in cross border car rentals to and from Mexico.
Once you realize that San Ysidro has as much to offer, as this chapter suggests, you’ll want to discover it first hand. You should note that there are only a few main streets (see map) that comprise this small community of 29,000 people.
For example, both San Ysidro and the main thoroughfare of San Ysidro bare the same name. This community and San Ysidro Boulevard were named after the patron saint of farmers as San Ysidro was once a farming community. And interestingly enough, back in 1910 San Ysidro was one of the first farming communes in America.
San Ysidro Boulevard is a well-traveled byway that begins at the border as a turnaround and travels along the east side of the border crossing for about two miles in a north-south direction from one end of San Ysidro to the other. Commercially speaking, it is the small business district of San Ysidro. Here you will find a wide arrays of businesses consisting of mini-markets, fast food restaurants like Jack in the Box, clothing boutiques, inexpensive hotels, parking lots, strip malls and, interestingly enough, at least a half dozen money exchange houses and lots of major U.S. Banks like Wells Fargo. The reason for such a high concentration of banks is because money kept in Mexican banks run the risk of a peso devalution vs. U.S. banks are backed by the federal government. So virtually every Mexican living in Mexico, who has a green card or a visa and who can legally cross the border into the U.S. has an American Bank account.
Here too is the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce and Business Association (11), which is the main stay of the community and a driving force for positive change in this community destined for dynamic change.
The well organized, yet low key, San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce is also within easy walking distance from the border at 663 San Ysidro Blvd. (619-428-1281) [sanysidrochamber.org]. It is open Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Being the most visited international border in the world puts this chamber of commerce in a league of its own. It is also an information resource center for travelers going to and coming from Mexico. It is an educational training center like other chambers, but it must have a bilingual staff to accommodate the needs of those who pass through it’s doors.
Fortunately, its chief administrator and his staff are the right people, in the right place at the right time to make a difference for this strategically located community. The San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce represents commerce at the world’s busiest land-border crossing. Its objective is to build strategic partnerships, which include: the San Ysidro Smart Border Coalition and bringing federal attention and change to this tiny, yet powerful community; and the Bi-National Border Chamber of Commerce—a historic conglomeration of chambers of commerce and economic development organizations from both sides of the US/Mexico border. San Ysidro obviously has a lot to offer.
Here too along San Ysidro Boulevard is Border Village Shopping Center (4) at the corner of Virginia Street and East San Ysidro Boulevard It’s two major tenants are Baja Duty Free and the 99 Cent Store with lots of free parking. The most notable business here is Baja Duty Free (4), which has several locations. Their claim to fame is that they offer people going to Mexico Duty Free prices on French perfumes, liquor, watches and jewelry. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
Where to Live
The homes in Rancho Del Rio are the newest homes, and they were built in the 1970’s. And homes in San Ysidro remain the least expensive homes in the county.
As for the demographics of this low income community, the largest category are children. Thus, San Ysidro is home to five grassy parks, four elementary schools and one middle school. This is a happy community filled with quiet streets and friendly people. Civic mindedness is geared toward family life with lots of community events such as their big community wide annual Fourth of July celebration. Yes, San Ysidro has a lot to offer.