What are some stores/shops/restaurants that are close to the school?
How close is sea world/san diego zoo?
Any malls? how close?
What are some activities that you do in free time/on weekends?
Any events like farmer's market type things?
Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Ralphs Supermarket, CVS Pharmacy, Staples, etc. all within walking distance. Plus a lot of restaurants (chipotle, TGI Fridays, BJ"s brewery, Rock Bottom, California Pizza Kitchen, Islands burgers, El Torito, etc.
Sea world is about a ten-fifteen minute drive south of campus. Not sure about the zoo.
There is a small mall near Ralphs (with a movie theater, some small stores) but I wouldn't really call it a "mall". For a real mall, there is one about a five minute drive away (I think it's called UTC?) and there are at least a dozen other large malls around San Diego, probably within 20 minutes driving.
Beach is close, as far as concerts go there are small ones pretty much every week on campus, with larger ones every quarter or so. There are a few venues in San Diego, pretty much what you would expect in any other major u.s. city
Just a couple blocks south of campus, there is La Jolla Village Square.
Theres a CVS, Ralphs, Whole Foods, Staples, Trader Joes, plenty of restaurants, BJ's, California Pizza Kitchen, TGI Friday's, etc
The nearest target and costco I can think of are pretty far, but you can take a couple buses if you must. By car they are close 10-20 minutes away probably.
Seaworld the and Zoo will also take a while to get to without a car. Look on a map.
UTC Westfield's is very very close. I'd say 15 minutes from campus. Its 5 minutes from my apartment off campus! Its not too big but not too small either. Plenty of shops.
I usually spend my free time sitting in a massage chair at Brookstone's in UTC. Haha.
There's a 'farmers market' every tuesday on campus. But its not the farmers markets that I'm used too. There is fresh fruit for sale, homemade organic, vegan foods, and other homemade things but it's mostly people making food (crepes, lemongrass chicken, drinks, etc) in a tent and selling it. Kinda pricey for me.
The campus shuttle is pretty good. Although I rarely take it. The time it takes to wait for the shuttle is enough for me to walk to my destination usually. But there's a really handy site that tracks where the shuttles are at all times: UC San Diego shuttles | Bus Tracking by Syncromatics
As for the public buses to go places off campus, errm, I've had some bad experiences w/ those. Yeah it gets you places, but be ready to spend some time waiting around for the buses.
Prospect street is a really cool street in downtown La jolla, it's lined with boutiques and restaurants and coffee shops. It's a 10 min drive. Seriously bring a car if possible all the places people are mentioning are SO much easier to get to if you have a car.
You definitely could walk/ride bike to the beach. Lots of carless students go in groups and do that.
I'm starting to like UCSD more and more, too! La Jolla seems like an amazing place. I don't see why people think there's nothing to do. Before I was conflicted between UCSB and UCSD, but with each day, I lean more and more towards UCSD! Go Tritons!
Since everyone managed to respond to most of your questions, I'll fill you in on the ones that didn't get answered so I won't be repetitive haha.
The San Diego Zoo is probably about 30 minutes from UCSD; it's right around downtown San Diego in Balboa Park. So UCSD is about 30-40 minutes from downtown as well.
As for concerts, there's RIMAC arena right on campus! : ) I haven't been there before but I know that some pretty amazing concerts/artists have went down there so I'm pretty excited for that! In San Diego there are many, maaany concert venues. There's the House of Blues, San Diego Sports Arena, Cricket Wireless, Cox Arena (at SDSU), and SOMA, just to name a few. They're all within a pretty decent distance of each other too!