San Diego Sights and Sounds Are Sure to Satisfy Meeting-goers

With panoramic views of both the city and sparkling San Diego Bay, the convention center is a short walk from the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter, a hub for dining, shopping, and entertainment.

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Welcome to San Diego, where you’ll experience a laid-back and friendly feel—a wonderful atmosphere for exploring the city and surrounding areas. Abundant in beautiful, world-renowned beaches, breathtaking vistas, and fun things to do, San Diego has something for everyone.

Boasting some of the best weather in the country year-round, San Diego is a great place for fun in the sun. The city transitions to the wet season in October, but overall it is sunny and warm, with an average high of 75 degrees. Evenings can be cool, with an average low of 63 degrees, so wear a light sweater.

If you want to tour art galleries and boutiques, or enjoy turn-of-the-century Victorian architecture, take a walk through The Gaslamp Quarter, across from the convention center. The Gaslamp Quarter hosts its annual Monster Bash on Halloween weekend—an outdoor music festival featuring live bands and a huge costume contest.

Also near the convention center is Seaport Village, a great area to watch passing ships on the bay, fly a kite, window shop, enjoy free music and entertainment, or grab a bite to eat at one of 17 restaurants.

If animals are your thing…

… then San Diego is the place to be.

Time in San Diego isn’t complete without a trip to the San Diego Zoo. One of the country’s top-rated zoos, the San Diego Zoo features both familiar and exotic animals like tree kangaroos and komodo dragons. It also hosts a botanical garden with more than 6500 plant species. Animals are more active during the early morning and afternoon, so go early if you can. Consider purchasing a bus tour with your entry ticket to catch some of the sites you might miss around the hilly parts of the zoo.

If you don’t get to see enough animals at the zoo and have a bit more time, take in the San Diego Wild Animal Park, only a 45-minute drive from downtown. Meander through 1800 acres of land and gardens and observe species mingling much as they do in their native Asia and Africa. Take the 30-minute Journey into Africa to get a close-up view of animals in the wild, or try feeding the colorful birds at Lorikeet Landing. If you want more hands-on time with tame animals, check out Nairobi Village.

For aquatic animals, visit SeaWorld, a medium-sized park that’s easy to walk. Featuring penguins, feeding sharks, and touchable bat rays, SeaWorld provides animal exhibits and interactions as well as rides and shows.

Theme parks and culture

San Diego features theme parks and cultural offerings for almost every taste.

For beachfront amusement, Belmont Park offers rides, a wave pool, glow-in-the-dark mini golf, shopping, and dining. Knott’s Soak City provides more than 20 rides and interactive water play areas.

One of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California, La Jolla Cove is tucked between sandstone cliffs.

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Legoland is a 128-acre interactive theme park with more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions. Test your paleontology skills at Dino Island, or sail your own boat through pirate-infested waters at Pirate Shores.

Searching for culture? Step into Balboa Park (see sidebar), and visit one of the 15 museums, including art, history, science, aerospace, and automotive. Take a ride on the carousel or miniature train, or enjoy an outdoor organ concert or presentation in one of the several theaters. Meander through the park’s renowned 1200 acres of lush landscaping and gardens, including the award-winning Rose Garden, the Japanese Friendship Garden, or the Alcazar Garden. You can get around the park easily with the free tram. A good starting point is the Visitors Center, where you can purchase a Balboa Park Passport that provides entrance to most of the park’s attractions.

To learn about America’s longest serving aircraft carrier, climb aboard the USS Midway Museum, a floating city at sea. Tour the Navy ship and learn how aircraft land and take off from an aircraft carrier. Spend the day exploring the collection of 25 restored aircraft and more than 60 exhibits, including the crew’s sleeping quarters, engine room, primary flight control, and interactive flight simulators. A self-guided audio tour helps make the most of your adventure, along with museum docents throughout the ship who share personal stories. For more intimate and in-depth information, you may reserve a docent tour for an additional cost.

San Diego on a shoestring

To enjoy San Diego without spending a lot of cash, hit the beach!—or parkland, or one of San Diego’s quaint town areas.

San Diego’s beaches not only are some of the most beautiful in the world—they are free to the public. Coronado is a not-to-miss site, with its top-rated, white, sandy beaches and beautiful views of the San Diego skyline. Coronado is home to the North Island U.S. Naval Air Station and the U.S. Navy Seals center, as well as Hotel del Coronado, a beautiful Victorian designated a National Historic Landmark. On the ocean side, you can walk to the boardwalk and rent anything from an umbrella to a four-person bicycle. You can get to Coronado via a 10- to 15-minute water taxi or ferry ride that places you on the bay side. You can then cab or walk up Orange Avenue to the ocean side. Alternatively, you can drive or cab from downtown San Diego directly to Coronado’s ocean side.

Another spot for beautiful beaches and rocky cliff views is La Jolla, where you will also find upscale shops and some of San Diego’s best-rated restaurants.

Check out the panoramic views as you walk along the wide, gently sloping beach of La Jolla Shores, or enjoy a magnificent sunset at La Jolla Cove, with its small sandy beach and rocky cliffs. La Jolla Cove is located on an ecological preserve with clear water, making it a popular place for scuba diving. Dabble in the tide pools along the half-mile Coast Walk between the La Jolla Cove and Children’s Pool, or enjoy the harbor seal colony at Seal Rock. If hard-breaking surf is your thing, stop at Windansea, a great beach for whale-watching during their migration to and from Mexico.

If you want to extend your visit on La Jolla Shores, take a stroll from the beach through the historic Scripps Campus (picking up a free walking tour map along the way), and head to Birch Aquarium via the footbridge over La Jolla Shores Drive. Birch Aquarium is not only smaller and more intimate than some of the larger and better-known attractions like SeaWorld, but also much less expensive. Birch Aquarium is a place to get close to animals, interact with exhibits, and have fun learning about sea life along the Pacific coast. Feeding times for many exhibits are open to the public.

For the younger and young-at-heart, head to Pacific Beach. Surf, sun, or play volleyball on the beach; or run, rollerblade, or bicycle down the boardwalk until the sun goes down. With a plethora of beach bars, local pubs, and dance clubs, “PB” also comes alive at night.

If you’re looking for sun and sand plus more, visit one of San Diego’s parklands. Take a beach walk and then hike up the cliffs to overlook the ocean at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, home of the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course. There are plenty of hiking routes, from easy and kid-friendly to more challenging. You also can watch the hang gliders and paragliders launching from the Gliderport nearby.

Fly a kite along the grassy field of Tecolote Shores at Mission Bay Park, a 4235-acre aquatic park great for water sports, jogging, and biking. Or, go boating on Lake Murray during a visit to Mission Trails Regional Park, where you can explore the cultural, historical, and recreational aspects of San Diego.

For more culture, see the murals in Chicano Park, painted on the support system of the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. The 70-plus colorful murals showcase Mexican and Chicano history and represent some of San Diego’s most important pieces of public art.

Gaslamp Quarter

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