San Diego

Welcome to San Diego, California’s second largest city. Where blue skies keep watch on 70 miles of beaches, and a gentle Mediterranean climate begs for a day of everything and nothing.

Bordered by Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, the Anza-Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountains, San Diego county’s 4,200 square miles offer immense options for both business and pleasure. And with the Mexican city of Tijuana just minutes from downtown, San Diego is an international experience with all the comforts of a city leading the nation in the biomedical, high-tech, and telecommunication industries.

Downtown

With San Diego International Airport only 3 miles northwest of downtown San Diego and the electric Gaslamp Quarter, you can move from jet-lagged to jet-setting in one quick taxi trip. From suave steakhouses and eclectic ethnic fare, to dinner clubs to sultry jazz bars, the over 100 restaurants intermingled with dance and drink are all situated within blocks of each other. The best part: all this is within walking distance from the San Diego Convention Center and hotels. Save some time for shopping, because when the sun rises so do the shopping temptations. For fare fit for a spree, comb the specialty boutiques or visit the famous Horton Plaza.

San Diego Art + Sol

San Diego is poised to curb any cultural craving. Spend the day at the lush 1,200-acre Balboa Park, one of the nation’s largest cultural complexes and home to the largest concentration of museums west of the Mississippi. Browse the spectacular array of fine art, science, natural history, aerospace, photography, model railroads, automobiles, and performing arts. Plan a picnic near one of the Park’s many botanical gardens or arboretums. When the urge strikes for a little ‘Big-Apple’ fare, there’s always the Tony Award-winning theater and world-class opera. Dance to the rhythm of blues, jazz, reggae and rock at one of the many clubs, festivals and outdoor concerts. And don’t miss the old-world Mexican architecture that shapes many of the charming neighborhoods and shopping districts.

Attractions

Being home to four theme parks, San Diego is qualified to rinse away daily humdrum. So bring the family and extend your business stay for a great vacation. See animals from around the globe at the San Diego Zoo. Rub noses with an endangered rhino at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. Set adventure (and kids) free at LEGOLAND California, a vibrant interactive experience including kid-powered rides. Devote a day to counting the teeth on a shark at SeaWorld. All are proof that no vacation is ever long enough.

Gaming

“America’s Finest City” is home to Vegas-style gaming. San Diego’s eight state-of-the-art casinos have everything your gaming heart desires, from poker and Pai Gow to blackjack and nearly as many slot machines as the destination has grains of sand. And beyond the shrill of jackpot sirens you’ll find championship golf courses, deal-laden shopping outlets, and award-winning restaurants woven right into these entertainment complexes.

Golf

Polish the clubs and prepare to test your handicap on one of 92 golf courses, many of which boast spectacular views and greens so pristine, your swing may gather some welcomed inspiration. Perhaps you’ll want to come a little early or stay a bit longer when San Diego’s legendary course, Torrey Pines, hosts the 2008 U.S. Open. Mark your calendars for the annual Buick Invitational, also at Torrey Pines. Fore!

Mexico/Baja California

For a real taste of Mexico, just hop on the San Diego Trolley and cross the international border. Enter a country so rich in culture you can taste it before your lips hit the ring of salt. The dance and deals are alive and well on the streets of Tijuana. Head a little farther south for a few nights’ stay at one of the amazing resorts nestled between rock and cove on a white sand beach. Viva the good life.

Dining

San Diego’s fresh, farmer-grown produce, hailing from 6,000 farms, shapes the way San Diego chefs slice, simmer, and sauté. They cook seasonally, which is to say that they use the bounty available to them that day, that hour; that very moment the shutters to the farmer’s stand are swung open. You can savor this impeccable taste dining aboard a yacht, sitting seaside at one of many outdoor cafes and restaurants, or sipping wine at sunset. With 6,400 dining establishments, some of which boast mastermind chefs recognized by the famed James Beard House, there is more flavor and more variety here than any spice rack could impersonate. Taste the art of fresh.

Shopping

Attention all shoppers: from sprawling discount outlet centers to quaint upscale boutiques, San Diego’s world-class shopping is as varied as its weather is ideal. Expect 72-degree perfection, even in the midst of a “must-have” moment, because most shopping venues are outdoors. Start the spree downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter and its neighboring architectural wonder, Horton Plaza. Take your bags to Fashion Valley, Mission Valley or La Jolla for national department stores as well as stores unique to San Diego. The Shops at Las Americas, Carlsbad, and Viejas’ outlet centers offer a needed refrain for wallets. Round out your new collection with a trip to Old Town’s eclectic, Mexican-flavored boutiques and jewelry stores. It’s in the bag.

Relaxation/Resort

Relaxing in a region seemingly founded upon the principles of harmony and well-being is par for the course. But this inherent spirit of balance born on San Diego’s 70 miles of beaches has been carried over in practice to the handful of world-class spas. Put together a post-conference resort rejuvenation package with golf and tennis intermingled with frequent pampering sessions of seaweed wraps and hot baths. Taste the epitome of fine dining as top chefs create masterpieces within walking distance from your beach cabana. Set aside some time to join the yoga and tai chi enthusiasts practicing their disciplines in parks and beaches everywhere — they’re always open to bringing in a new participant. Become a connoisseur in the art of “ahhhhhhh.”

Active San Diego

Check out these numbers: 92 golf courses, 1,200 tennis courts, 70 miles of beaches. All canopied beneath a climate named ‘ideal’ by meteorologists. And depending on your outdoor terrain of choice, San Diego’s four microclimates, including mountains, deserts, inland valleys and beaches can show you just how great the Great Outdoors gets. Explore rural mountain-scapes or desert trails, run with the tide or swim against it, scuba dive the depths of kelp forests or cycle pine forests. Rather spectate? San Diego’s plethora of outdoor venues accommodate just about any sporting convention or spectator event. In fact, the Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego was a spectacular success and the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon continues to draw record-breaking crowds. Clearly,  ’America’s Finest City’ is living up to its reputation as ‘America’s Fittest City.’

Text and photos courtesy of sandiego.org