Sightseeing in San Diego

Hello Apartmentalize attendees,

Alan Pentico, your local affiliate host here. I have been asked by several of you what there is to do in San Diego, either before and after the conference, so I thought I would put together a quick list for you.

My Saturday Option

san diego things to do

Get up and head to Ocean Beach (OB) for breakfast at Wonderland restaurant. It overlooks the ocean and you can enjoy one of their great Bloody Marys’. I like to get a side order of the candied bacon and an order of guacamole. I use the bacon like chips to scoop up the guacamole. When you're finished eating, OB is a great beach area to wander around. Lots of local shops, restaurants, and places to hang out while enjoying a refreshing beverage… 😉

Another option is Pacific Beach (PB),  where you can find Draft Restaurant at Belmont Park. After brunch, enjoy all the entertainment options at the amusement park, including a ride on the Big Dipper roller coaster and Dole Whip. You can also enjoy the beach and miles of boardwalk.

Balboa Park is about a ten-minute cab ride away. My wife and I will often get up and head to the zoo, which opens at 9 a.m., and just wander around this world class venue. No joke. It is the best. Seriously, mother nature should be jealous and it now serves local brews (coffee and beer) and has just opened the amazing Africa Rocks exhibit. After the zoo, head over to the museums (arts, trains, artifacts, planes, plants, cars, and more), have lunch at the Prado or Panama 66. Balboa Park was the backdrop for the movie Citizen Cane. It’s San Diego’s version of New York’s Grand Central Park. Stay late and catch a show at the Old Globe Theater. You can also find the historical carousel and grab the brass ring.


 fun things to do in san diego

Near the convention center, wander along the waterfront to Seaport Village for brunch, lunch, dinner, or some touristy shopping. The flag shop is lots of fun and I always get ice cream. If you walk the full length of the village, you will come upon the USS Midway museum. Alternatively, the convention center is at the foot of the Gaslamp Quarter. Here you will find lots of restaurants, bars, and entertaining night light. It quite the happening place during baseball games. Head north to the Civic Center and see School of Rock which will be playing conference week. Or, work yourself around the ballpark for lots of casual eateries. If you have smaller children, stop by the Children’s museum a few blocks from the convention center.

For high-end fashion, head to Fashion Valley, which is a short trolley ride away and you will have all the high-end shops you want.

Take a water taxi from Seaport Village and head over to Coronado for a few hours. Visit the Hotel del Coronado or a enjoy a round of golf in a perfect setting. Walk on tee times at this course are usually pretty easy to get.

For some gaming, San Diego has the highest concentration of casinos outside of Las Vegas. Many are within 30 minutes of the convention center (Viejas, Sycuan, Barona, Hollywood, Pala, Harrah’s etc.). Note, most are now full-service resorts with spas, golf courses, shopping, concerts and more.

Little Italy is one of my most favorite neighborhoods. Lots of great restaurants, outdoor seating areas, coffee shops, street markets, etc. My favorite locals are the Waterfront (Wyatt Earp used to be a regular here), Crack Shack, and Café Italia. Crack Shack offers great fried chicken. It’s one of two restaurants by famed chef, Richard Blais. Check out Juniper & Ivy for a more formal dinner occasion. On that note, San Diego has lots of celebrity chef locals. You can make a trip for those alone.

Don’t forget Sea World. It’s an amazing sea life experience, which San Diegan’s cherish for their work saving the world’s sea life. We see it every day. Also, check out the Birch Aquarium near UCSD. Of course, the Padres play at Petco park across from the convention center, so baseball fans won't want to miss that opportunity. There are plenty of golfing options in any price range, but if you plan to play the famed Torrey Pines courses, book now.

If you are into the beer scene, we practically started the microbrew trend. Karl Strauss, Stone, Ballast Point, AleSmith, Modern Times, Belching Beaver, Societe, Green Flash, Absolution, Coronado, Pariah, Duckfoot and so many more. Search the web for San Diego Beer Tours.

For a good overall introduction to San Diego, the Old Town Trolley Tours will stop at many of the sites mentioned above and offer hop on hop off opportunities.


Wine and craft brewery San Diego

Temecula Valley is about a 45-minute car ride northeast of San Diego with about two dozen wineries. It’s a great day-long excursion. Alternatively, there is a wine tasting room in Sea Port village and there are several smaller wineries in the greater San Diego area. Those that want to can add apple pie to the mix.  You head toward the mountain town of Julian via the community of Ramona. Once past Ramona, you will find several wineries along the way to Julian. Be sure to stop by Mom’s bakery or the Julian Pie company for some of the best apple pie ever.

Final Advice

If you want Mexican food find a taco shop by asking a local. Stay away from chain restaurants, which you probably know is almost always good advice. Fish tacos are a local favorite, having imported them from Baja Mexico. Tin Fish across from the center is a good choice but I recommend starting with one as they are bigger than you think. 

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