San Diego has more to offer than sun and surf. California’s coastal destination is also a vinyl paradise. To help tourists and locals alike, Discogs curated a list of the best record stores in San Diego.
Located in downtown San Diego, the one-and-only FeeLit is on the smaller side but is packed with a diverse selection from many genres and eras. The store carries new and used vinyl, cassettes, and CDs, as well as T-shirts and other music memorabilia. FeeLit is very active in the local music scene and regularly hosts in-store events and album release parties. It is also the only record store in San Diego to cater to the DJ scratch scene — portable turntablists, check out the wide selection of 7-inch scratch records!
909 E Street San Diego, CA 92101
Normal is a small and friendly San Diego record shop that is very clean and well-organized. The focus is on providing new vinyl at the lowest possible prices, as well as used records priced to move. Quality over quantity is the motto here. Additionally, Normal carries new and used cassettes and used CDs.
4201 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
Opened in 2001, M-Theory is San Diego’s go-to record shop for all things indie, although the shop carries a wide variety of all popular genres as well. New, used, vinyl, CD, cassette, turntables — it’s all here. If you don’t see a new release or available reissue in stock, they can get it for you. M-Theory has a great atmosphere, supports the local scene, and hosts DJs in-store.
827 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
Fivespace is San Diego’s hip-hop specialist. The shop is seriously tiny, but a high-quality selection can be found here, including new and rare used vinyl and the most thorough collection of hip-hop tapes you’ll see this side of 1994. Also, check out the small selection of vintage wear and decor.
2305 University Ave #101 San Diego, CA 92104
Vinyl Junkies Record Shack
From the creators and organizers of the Vinyl Junkies Record Swap, Eric Howarth founded M-Theory Music back in 2001, sold the shop in the late part of the decade, and came back to the brick-and-mortar game with the Record Shack. A beautiful space in a repurposed old house in the hip and indie-minded South Park neighborhood, Vinyl Junkies is a must-stop, regardless of the genres you’re into. You can find new, used, and a very healthy selection of rare items in all formats. Come hang out on their back patio and be on the lookout for regular live performances on the adjoining driveway.
2235 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104
Located just a short drive outside of San Diego proper in La Mesa, the family-run Re-Animated offers new and used vinyl, cassettes, and CDs in all genres, as well as DVDs and VHS. Re-Animated also specializes in horror movie memorabilia, such as T-shirts and posters. The perfect stop if you’re into both collecting music and horror films!
8320 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91942
Red Brontosaurus Records
Red Brontosaurus specializes in punk and pop-punk, as well as other forms of rock in all formats, although you can definitely scoop up records in other genres in here as well. They also carry a wide selection of used video games and consoles, as well as VHS and blu-ray.
3044 N Park Way, San Diego, CA 92104
In addition to selling new and used records and CDs, including rare original pressings, TAANG! is also headquarters to the label of the same name. When I visited, owner and label founder Curtis Casella showed me the back of the shop, which will soon be converted to a performance space, and regaled me with some tales about the label’s history.
3834 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103
Beat Box Records
Located in Barrio Logan, the cozy Beat Box is a digger’s delight full of quality and rare original pressings of the soul, funk, hip-hop, and Chicano varieties. The shop decor could double as a museum of groove-based music ephemera.
2148 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Folk Arts Rare Records
In business for over 50 years, Folk Arts has been helmed by current owner Brendan Boyle since 2014. It’s a small space packed to the limit with quality and rare picks of all genres, carrying both new and used vinyl. Eclecticism is the name of the game here. At Folks Arts, you’re guaranteed to find interesting records, and Brendan greatly values hanging out, having conversations about music, and having fun times in his shop.
3072 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104
Specializing in vinyl for about 20 years, Record City carries all popular genres on vinyl, CD, and cassette, as well as DVDs and VHS tapes. Their goal is to provide the cleanest product possible, so you won’t find many beaters here.
3757 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Cow Records carries a wide selection of new and used vinyl, CDs, and cassettes, with an emphasis on classic rock. It’s located in one of the last little Bohemian areas of San Diego at Ocean Beach, just a couple blocks from the coast! One could easily make a day of digging through Cow’s expansive inventory, grabbing a bite, then heading to the beach for some sun and fun.
5040 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107
Nickelodeon Records has been open in San Diego’s Normal Heights district since 1984 and run by Ruth and Elizabeth since day one. Come here for original pressings of reissued titles for reasonable prices. Nickelodeon has something for everyone, young and old, with an emphasis on clean records of the rock and folk varieties.
3335 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
Full Contact Rock-N-Roll
Full Contact is located in a repurposed house, and each room is filled to the brim with records, cassettes, vintage band tees, and tons of other ephemera. There’s bound to be something here for collectors of many stripes.
2834 N Park Way, San Diego, CA 92104
Article originally published by Aaron Marquez in 2018. Last updated in 2021. Feature image by Stephen Leonardi.