Destination Guide: San Diego

Traveling to San Diego for GBTA? Lucky you! The city boasts 300 sunny days per year; an international airport close to the city center; and a compact, vibrant downtown with hotels, restaurants and sights offering varied options for your business or extended leisure time. Just this year, the San Diego Convention Center completed a massive renovation of its 90,000 square-foot, glass-roofed Sails Pavilion, to better allow the Southern California sunshine to permeate your events and trade shows.



Perfectly situated between downtown and the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the Kimpton Palomar aims to add style to your business stay. The boutique hotel offers flexible meeting spaces that can expand up to 20,000 square feet to meet your business and event needs. The Palomar provides A/V staff and equipment to keep the work flowing and a rooftop pool and lounge should you wish to extend the flow beyond your business meetings.

The Westin San Diego Gaslamp, with meeting capacity for 900 attendees and total meeting space of 35,000 square feet, can host your event in a ballroom or garden terrace, and then send you on your way to the best restaurants in the city, all just steps away. Don’t worry, their award-winning Heavenly Bed will make sure you are rested and ready to tackle your tomorrow.

Only three blocks from the Convention Center, the Pendry San Diego strikes a welcoming balance between modern and traditional. With intimate meeting spaces and an 8,400 square-foot ballroom (with a total function space of 35,000 square feet), 317 guest rooms, rooftop pool, fitness center, the Spa Pendry, and six bars and restaurants on site, the Pendry can meet and far surpass your business and leisure needs.



If you have proper time for breakfast, head to Richard Walker’s Pancake House. The Walker family has crafted the perfect pancake (they offer 25 gourmet varieties) and even brew their own coffee blend, but be prepared to wait for a table. If you have the time, it’s worth it. For a healthier vegetarian or vegan option, head to Café Gratitude, serving a 100% organic, plant-based menu that is well-loved by Southern Californians. Not enough time? Grab and go at Kuma Café or Copa Vida.


Harvest by the Patio is built on the belief “that comfort food and health-conscious can go hand-in-hand.” Serving smoothies, sandwiches and wraps in a casual setting, it is perfect for dining-in or takeaway. For what many consider the best fish taco in San Diego, head to Tin Fish in the Gaslamp District. Don’t worry they serve other seafood options and even a delicious burger. For an al-fresco, sophisticated seafood lunch, Sally’s Fish House overlooking the San Diego Bay is our favorite.


Cucina Urbana serves the flavors of contemporary Italian cuisine with the organic freshness of Southern California ingredients. Bond with your colleagues over the shareable portions of homemade pasta, unique pizzas and innovative seafood and meat entrees. Need a present for someone back home? Cucina has a wine-shop that will even ship to your doorstep. For sushi, go to local favorite, Azuki Sushi. If a steak supper is more your speed, Chef Theresa Livingston at Fleming’s Steakhouse has crafted the perfect menu, featuring her favorites: Bacon and Blue Cheese Tenderloin Medallions, Braised Lamb Shank and Truffle Lobster Mac n Cheese. Should you need more privacy, Fleming’s can provide multiple private dining rooms—all with conferencing system for video connections with up to five satellite sites. Reservations are highly recommended for all restaurants.


This summer, San Diego launched FRED (Free Ride Everywhere Downtown), the all-electric, open air vehicles providing free rides in the downtown area, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and even later on the weekends.  You can wave them down on the street or call them specifically to your location using their app, which can be downloaded from their website: If traveling beyond FRED’s reach, use the Lyft app for door to door service.


If you have a little time beyond your business duties, take a walk around the 1,200 acres of Balboa Park. San Diego was the second city in the United States to prioritize a large, urban park (behind New York City’s Central Park). Within Balboa Park, you’ll find walking trails, the Botanical Building housing more than 2,000 plants, the world-famous San Diego Zoo and seventeen museums—yes, seventeen—including the San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Automotive Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum and the Centro Cultural de la Raza, an arts center dedicated to Chicano, Mexican, and Indigenous-Latino cultures.