San Diego, CA

5 Excellent Record Stores in North San Diego County

Mike Peterson
Woman holding a record in an indie record store.Jamakassi/Unsplash

Compared to digital music services, listening to your favorite artists on vinyl is irreplaceable. For fans of records, streaming just can't compete in terms of audio quality, warmth, and the overall experience.

Unfortunately, genuinely independent record stores can feel very few and far between these days -- especially in San Diego. That's why I've collected this list of excellent indie record stores across North San Diego County that you should definitely check out if you're in the market for new vinyl.

5. San Diego Vintage Collectables

Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Address: Online (16767 Bernardo Center Dr, San Diego, CA 92128)

Social media: San Diego Vintage Collectables Instagram Page

San Diego Vintage Collectables is a unique independent record store in that it doesn't operate an actual storefront. Instead, it describes itself as a "mobile record store." You can order vinyl through the website or purchase it in-person at monthly pop-up sales in Rancho Bernardo and throughout the San Diego area.

True to its name, it may be tough to order any newer releases. This store focuses on older, vintage records across a wide range of genres -- from oldies to punk rock to jazz. They also operate a unique subscription service that has them send you a selection of records each month. An interesting store, but highly recommended.

4. Standards

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Address: 216 E Broadway, Vista, CA 92084

Social media: Standards Instagram Page

A great independent local record store in Vista, California. It's right by local hotspots like The Yellow Deli and Belching Beaver, so you can peruse the selection at Standards after a bite and a brew.

The specialties here are punk, hardcore, and heavy metal vinyl, including rarer records in niche genres. However, there's a wide selection of new and classic albums across other musical styles. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the prices can't be beaten. All in all, it's an excellent addition to the local area.

3. Skoolyard Records

Hours: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, except Monday

Address: 403 Wisconsin Ave unit g, Oceanside, CA 92054

Social media: Skoolyard Records Facebook page

Located near downtown Oceanside, Skoolyard Records is an indie store specializing in a wide selection of hip hop, funk, rap, and soul LPs. You'll also find interesting items like breakdancing VHS tapes and a slew of CDs and cassettes, as well as art and apparel.

Highly focused on the local community, Skoolyard Records also hosts events like barbeques and sidewalk sales. The owner is also a DJ-for-hire for various events. A real hidden gem in coastal North County.

2. Lou's Records

Hours: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Address: 434 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

Social media: Lou's Records Instagram Page

Hidden away in the neighborhood of Cardiff-by-the-Sea in Encinitas, California, Lou's Records is an institution among local record collectors. It isn't just a record store, though -- it also hosts local musical events and performances.

Unlike some other record stores that you may come across, Lou's Records stocks a mix of both new and used vinyl, which means you may be able to find your favorite recent releases here. They also sell CDs and cassettes, turntables, gifts, apparel, and DVDs.

1. Spin Records

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday

Address: 370 Grand Ave, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Social media: Spin Records Instagram Page

Although a relatively small shop, you might be surprised by the range of LPs, CDs, and cassettes offered at this local Carlsbad Village spot. Despite its size, the place is packed with musical treasures. The staff is laid-back, friendly, and willing to give their recommendations to local music and analog lovers.

There's a vast inventory of both new and used vinyl records, meaning you'll find everything from indie rock or rap to classic jazz and rock albums. You can also choose from their selection of CDs, musical apparel, and stickers to show off your love for independent music.

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Mike Peterson is a journalist, editor, and yoga teacher based in North San Diego County. He's a fan of indie bookstores, local craft beers, and excellent tacos.

San Diego, CA

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