With its close proximity to both mountains and the ocean, San Diego, California, has a distinct advantage over most cities. It also has three distinct areas, each with its own vibe and selections perfect for MICE markets.
Along the Coast
La Jolla is about a 30-minute ride from the airport and boasts some of the most gorgeous ocean views along the Pacific. Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines is a mainstay in the area and with 394 rooms and 60,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space—perfect for medium- to large-size events. On property, there are a number of options to help keep guests active, such as golf on the world-famous north and south courses, hiking and yoga.
For a more relaxing vibe, take a kayak around the Cove or explore into one of the seven sea caves featuring a plethora of leopard sharks and sealions. It is listed as one of Visit California’s top activities.
Coronado Island is a short yet scenic ride from the airport and is the perfect getaway local. The historic (and rumored to be haunted) Hotel Del Coronado is the island’s pride and joy. Its renovation includes 757 rooms and 65,000 square feet of meeting space. The charm and style of meeting spaces make this hotel unparalleled.
The nearby Loews, with 440 rooms and a 4-star rating, recently underwent a complete overhaul. An recommended activity is conducting a boot camp tailored around teambuilding with the Navy Seals at the North Island Pacific Fleet base.
This area is home to Mission Bay with access to Sea World. The behind-the-scenes tour and park buyout are perfect for large-scale events.
Point Loma Peninsula has another completely renovated property, Kona Kai. This 129-room luxury hotel sits on the water and provides direct access to the marina. Its standout offering is the private beach, which is ideal for a large party, since it is the only resort in San Diego that permits consumption of alcohol.
Downtown & Urban
The Downtown and Gaslamp Quarter has changed quite a bit in the past several years. It is now home to more than 40 hotels, including the newly renovated Pendry, which is a preferred collection property. The Marriott Marquis boasts 1,362 hotel rooms, and with its upgraded massive convention space fitted with latest technologies and floor to ceiling glass walls, it is a premiere convention space.
The district also hosts the San Diego Convention Center and other marquee venues like Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. Gaslamp Quarter is the epicenter of the entertainment district, bringing the old-world charm and a food revolution spearheaded by several Top Chef contestants. Dine Arounds are easy to accomplish with the 150 area restaurants and a fun way to get around by the use of vehicles from VIP Pedicabs.
Balboa Park is an iconic area with many important cultural influences. Since it is bigger than Central Park, there are plenty of activities, museums, and 65 miles of biking and hiking trails. Be sure to rent electric bikes from Pedigo. The Old Globe Theater (modeled after Shakespeare’s theater in England) and the Natural History Museum, which has a rooftop VIP area overlooking the park, are two perfect locations for themed-celebration dinners.
Inland Valley and Mountains
Although this area of San Diego is a little removed, it is well worth the trip—especially for beer lovers. The “Hops Highway” is home to 78 craft breweries and eight wineries. The Rancho Bernado Inn is nestled in the middle of all this libation fun and is a gorgeous resort hotel. The 80,000 sq.-ft.-indoor-outdoor meeting space features fireplaces, grand foyers and the pièce de résistance: more than 21 distinct fountains nestled throughout the property. The 18-hole championship Golf Course is a true golfers dream having held both PGA and LGPA tours.