11-15-19 | Feature

Things to Do and See in San Diego

By Darryl Carter, LASN

The beautiful 1,200-acre Balboa Park is known for the world-class San Diego Zoo, its restful cultivated areas, museums, and live shows. Among other highlights of the park are the Museum of Natural Man, and the San Diego Museum of Art. At just a 10-minute drive from the San Diego Convention Center, this park is definitely worth the ride.
The Gaslamp Quarter or Gaslight District, as it is referred to by San Diegans, is one of the coastal city's most popular destinations. Located in downtown, the historical neighborhood has more than 100 of the city's finest restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, and retail shops.
Photo: John Bahu for
Visitors of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park get a glimpse of the town's cultural history. A favorite among tourists, the historic site in downtown San Diego recreates life in the Mexican and Early American periods of 1821-1872. Along with live performances, the park features entertainment attractions, restaurants, and shops.
As the oldest city on the West Coast, San Diego is called the birthplace of California. Home to more than 1,307,402 people, it is the eighth largest city in the United States and the location of the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. San Diego's crescent-shaped bay is 19 square miles and a paradise for maritime recreation.
Photo: Joanne DiBona for
San Diego may be popular for its breathtaking scenery, but it also is known for its military might. The USS Midway, which was America's longest serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, was converted to an interactive museum and is one of the city's most frequently visited attractions.
Photo: John Bahu for
Hotel Del Coronado brings class and style to the gorgeous beaches of San Diego. The historic hotel is the only true beachfront resort in San Diego. Ten United States presidents have stayed at the famous hotel, as well as legends such as Babe Ruth and Thomas Edison.
Photo: Brett Shoaf for
La Jolla is heralded as one of San Diego's most scenic areas. Its crystal-clear water and warm swimming temperatures year-round make it one of the most picturesque options for enjoying a day at the beach. Snorkeling, diving, watching the sea lions, checking out sea caves, and kayaking are some of the favorite options among locals and tourists.
Photo: Joanne DiBona for
Glorietta Bay is a popular attraction among locals and tourists for the ample opportunities to recreate on its calm waters and the pristine beach of Glorietta Park, along with impressive views of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
Photo: Brett Shoaf for
The University of California at San Diego is consistently ranked as one of the world's top universities but it's also home to the world-renowned Stuart Collection, a unique assemblage of site-specific works by leading artists. The entire campus is considered as a site for commissioned sculpture.
Photo: University of California San Diego
Four weeks of elite thoroughbred racing begin on November 8 at Del Mar Racetrack's Fall Racing Festival. The festival, which will also feature events and music performances, will run through December 8.
Photo: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
The Torrey Pines North Course has some of the best golf and ocean views you'll find in Southern California. The course recently completed a $17 million renovation by Tom Weiskopf, making it a worthy complement to the world-famous Torrey Pines South Course.

As the birthplace of California, San Diego has been called a year-round playground for its 72-degree average weather temperature. Along with its 70 miles of coastline, stunning architecture and landscapes, there is no shortage of destinations, entertainment, or things to
do or see.

Visitors of the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO will most likely have clear blue skies and will certainly have an ocean of options while in town for the conference.

Events at the ASLA show are scheduled from November 15-18. These are some of the places that make San Diego such a unique and amazing city
to visit.

The Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego is a 16 1/2 -block neighborhood of restored 19th-and early 20th-century Victorian buildings. Located adjacent to the Convention Center, the historical area is one of the city's premier shopping destinations. Once home to Wyatt Earp, there are 94 historic buildings in the district bordering Petco Park and the San Diego Bay. With more than 100 restaurants, shops, entertainment offerings, and nightlife venues, there is always something to do and see here.

Address: 208-226 Fifth Ave, San Diego, Calif. 92101

Balboa Park
Home to 17 major museums, performing arts venues, lush gardens, trails, and recreational attractions including the world-class San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park is a popular destination among tourists. The park was created for the Panama California Exhibition of 1915-1916, and most of the buildings still remain from that era. Spanish-Colonial style buildings are surrounded by a tapestry of gardens with more than 350 plant species.

Among the park's other main attractions are the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, and the Botanical House and Lily Pond, which contains 2,100 individual plants, and a pond with an annual display of lilies and lotuses. At 1,200 square acres, Balboa has been called the cultural heart of San Diego, and it is the nation's largest urban cultural park.

Address: 1549 El Prado, San Diego, Calif.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
The Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is the most visited state park in California for many reasons. Located in the Old Town neighborhood of San Diego, the park is the site of California's first settlement. Brimming with culture, the park is a great place to go for authentic Mexican food, music, shops, and art galleries. The park is scattered with restored buildings, including five original adobes from the city's early days between 1820 and 1870 that still stand.

Old Town's visitor center and museums are open from 10AM until 4:30PM, Monday-Thursday, and 10AM- 5PM Friday - Sunday. There is no admission fee to enter the park.

Address: 4002 Wallace Street, San Diego, Calif.
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
More than 225,000 military service personnel once served on the ship, which is now a floating museum. Visitors to the USS Midway Museum get an opportunity to witness over 60 exhibits and 25 restored aircraft on the naval aircraft carrier. Once onboard, it's an interactive experience with self-guided audio tours, theater, flight simulators, and climb-in aircraft. The aircraft carrier tour includes a walk through the ship's galley, brig and the crew's sleeping quarters - all while hearing snippets from people who served onboard.

The museum is closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas day.
Address: 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, Calif. 92101

La Jolla
Referred to as the jewel of San Diego, the Mediterranean-style, seaside enclave of La Jolla is famous for its pristine beaches and picturesque sunsets. The community is synonymous with fine dining, shopping, ocean views, hiking trails, and world-class golf courses of the Torrey Pines and its State Reserve.

La Jolla Cove is one of the most popular beaches in the area for its turquoise blue waters and sea lions that rest on the cove's point. For the more adventurous, there is the Torrey Pines Gliderport, where visitors can hang glide or paraglide over the Black Ocean. Kayak tours are popular in the seaside community, with locals and tourists alike exploring the Seven Caves, and the Underwater Park of La Jolla.

Legends Gallery is another of the city's many go-to destinations, with an exhibit of original art by former La Jolla resident, Theodore Seuss Geisel - AKA Dr. Seuss.

Address: Coast Blvd - San Diego, Calif. 92037

Hotel Del Coronado
The history of the Hotel Del Coronado sets it apart from other hotels. Built in 1888, the Hotel Coronado San Diego is known for distinguished Queen Anne architecture, which was popular in the Victorian Era. Upon its opening, it was the world's largest resort hotel. Situated on Del Beach, Hotel del Coronado was hailed as an architectural masterpiece upon its opening.

The beachfront hotel has appeared in 12 films, most famously, 1959's Some Like it Hot.

The annual Skating by the Sea event draws both locals and tourists from around the world. The hotel's Windsor Lawn is converted to an ice-skating rink, just steps from the sand. Visitors don't have to book a room to experience the beauty of the landmark - there are daily 75-minute tours through the buildings and its gardens.

Address: 1500 Orange Avenue Coronado, Calif. 92118

The San-Diego Coronado Bridge
Commonly referred to as the Coronado Bridge, the 2.12-mile landmark spans the San Diego Bay and connects the cities of San Diego and Coronado. The bridge's main span features the largest box girder in the world and some of the longest
steel plates.

The landmark is a tourist's haven for its breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, the city's skyline, and passing ships. There are daily guided kayaking tours offered under the bridge from Coronado.

Address: CA-75, Coronado, Calif. 92118

University of California San Diego
The University of California at San Diego is billion-dollar research enterprise, leading the nation in nanotechnology and is consistently ranked among the top 20 universities by the Academy Rankings of World Universities and the Center for World University Rankings. UCSD is also home to the Stuart Collection, a sculpture collection of art with pieces that are integrated into the campus landscape.

Address: 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, Calif. 92093
Del Mar Racetrack
The Del Mar Racetrack is one of Southern California's premier sporting attractions. Built in 1936 with the leadership of its founding partner, Bing Crosby, the 44,000-seat capacity venue is the second largest horse-racing venue in the western United States.

The Bing Crosby Season kicks off with the racetrack's opening day on November 8.

Address: 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, Calif. 92014

Torrey Pines Golf Courses
The San Diego area boasts more than 90 golf courses. The municipal courses at Torrey Pines are worldwide attractions. With golf courses laid out among the Pacific Coast, desert mountains or inland valleys, it is no wonder that San Diego was named by Golf Digest as one of the top 50 destinations to play golf on the planet.

Address: 11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, Calif. 92037

Other Destinations and Happenings
For much more on what this fabulous city has to offer, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority at

Time flies when visiting San Diego. It always does when you're having fun.

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2019.

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