San Diego: “America’s Finest City”

San Diego is perhaps unique in that you are within easy traveling distance of beach, desert, and mountains for any type of experience you are interested in. 

Our hotel is right on the marina where you can walk along the water and a short drive from the closest beaches, which include Belmont Park with its famous wooden roller coaster, Mission Bay (which includes Sea World), and Ocean Beach Dog Beach. But these beaches aren’t the only ones nearby. When you visit San Diego, you can tour La Jolla’s famous beaches (and view the neighborhood that inspired Raymond Chandler when he lived there). Coronado is a short ferry ride away and easily reachable from the hotel. Coronado’s beaches have been rated one of the best in the U.S. San Diego is lucky to have a number of stunning beach areas to explore.

If deserts are more your thing, San Diego is near the Anza-Borrego Desert. Even San Diego’s closer backcountry has wonderful hiking trails and desert gardens for you to visit. 

If you want to drive to the mountains, San Diego is close to the mountain community of Julian, famous for its apple pies and historic buildings. While it does get some snow in the winter, the area is generally beautiful and temperate through the Fall.

San Diego has an active writing and mystery community with a Sisters in Crime chapter, an MWA chapter, and many local authors. Raymond Chandler wrote his last novels in our local community of La Jolla (called Esmeralda in the books), where he lived. He is buried with his wife in a local cemetery.

Gaslamp District
Our hotel is on the marina, right in the heart of downtown. You are across the street from the Gaslamp District, where dining and nightclubs are the main attraction. There are also historic buildings and a few local museums to enjoy. Check out the Ghiradelli’s ice cream and chocolate shop or one of the numerous pubs, taverns and bars. Remember, San Diego is a hot spot for craft beers!

Old Town
Old Town is the historic heart of San Diego. Created in 1769, Old Town San Diego was California’s first settlement with only a mission and a fort. Wander through lush gardens or browse at one of the many specialty shops for treasures from around the world. Indulge in authentic Mexican food at one of the many restaurants or dance to the strolling mariachis. Pause to reflect at the fountains at Fiesta de Reyes and in the Bazaar del Mundo and plan a day or two to visit the dozens of historic sites. Take a tour of a haunted building and spend a day at one of the many museums. Year round, Old Town is the place for food, folklore, and fun. Visit Old Town, celebrate San Diego’s heritage, and bask in early California ambiance. (Easily reachable from the trolley stop right at the front of the conference hotel.)

Maritime Museum and the U.S.S. Midway
The Maritime Museum of San Diego enjoys a worldwide reputation for excellence in restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels. The museum has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship Star of India. The collection of ships and exhibits are available for public tours. Named one of the worldwide top three Maritime Museums, this needs to be on your bucket list! If that isn’t enough, San Diego is a Navy town and you can tell by visiting the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier you can explore. In addition to the ship itself, there are numerous aircraft and exhibits to see onboard. Both are within walking distance of the hotel or from the trolley.

Balboa Park and its museums 
Balboa Park is the largest urban park in the U.S. and it is also sometimes known at the Smithsonian of the West because it is home to over 17 museums and cultural institutions. The park’s central area was designed around two major events, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. Today it is home to the World Famous San Diego Zoo, the Natural History Museum, the San Diego Art Museum, and other attractions. It also has a number of beautiful gardens, including a rose garden, cactus garden, and the 1915 Botanical Building (this historic building is one of the largest lath structures in the world and contains over 2,100 plants including cycads, ferns, orchids, tropical plants, and a bog/carnivorous plants area).

World Famous Zoo / Wild Animal Safari Park
San Diego is known for its excellent zoo (see above) in Balboa Park but we are lucky enough to have two locations: the Balboa Park zoo (very large and impressive) and the Safari Park (north county, a completely different experience). You can see almost any animal you could wish for between these two world-class attractions.

Sea World
Want to see killer whales, dolphins, sharks, penguins, or world-class aquariums? Sea World offers all that plus roller coasters and family entertainment. Nearby in Mission Bay.

Over 60 kid-powered, kid-tactic rides, shows, and attractions. See our world as built with Lego bricks or ride one of the brick-themed roller coasters. Themed areas for ninjas, pirates, Star Wars and others will be sure to delight children of all ages. North County.

Los Angeles (and Orange County) –Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Hollywood and more
It’s less than two-hours by car and also easily reachable by trolley and train. Los Angeles has plenty to entertain, including theme parks, restaurants, and, of course, Hollywood.

Our hotel is a half hour drive from the Mexican border—or the trolley will take you right to the border crossing. Once there, make sure you have your passport, but then you are ready to visit our nearest neighbor—Mexico!

MORE PLACES TO SEE: Atlas Obscura list for the city (county will have even more)

Local Bookstores (in alphabetical order, not a complete list by any means)
please check hours and availability

More San Diego Information

 • San Diego Visitor Planning Guide
 • San Diego website

About San Diego:

THE FOUR INDIGENOUS TRIBES native to the County of San Diego include: CAHUILLA, CUPENO, LUISENO, and KUMEYAAY. The Kumeyaay, particularly, were the original inhabitants of most of the area. Today, the San Diego region is home to 18 Native American reservations represented by 17 Tribal Governments, the most in any county in the United States. Explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claims to have discovered San Diego Bay in 1542, roughly 200 years before other Europeans settled the area; in truth, the Kumeyaay people (and other tribes) had been living in the area for as long as 12,000 years prior to any European presence. Their land was taken from them over time by others who laid claim to the area. A Spanish fort and mission were established in 1769, which gradually expanded into a settlement under first Spanish and then Mexican rule (part of the famous/infamous Father Juniper Serra system). San Diego officially became part of the U.S. in 1848, and the town was named the county seat of San Diego County when California was added as a state in the United States of America in 1850.