Neighborhoods to Discover in San Diego

Posted by: Amanda Olsen, ASHG Meetings Assistant

There are so are many places to explore in San Diego, host city to the ASHG 2018 Annual Meeting this October, that we cannot cover them all. Learn more about exciting San Diego and all it has to offer.

Gaslamp Quarter—adjacent to the Convention Center; a short walk

Conveniently located across the street from the San Diego Convention Center, the Gaslamp Quarter is a lively downtown neighborhood that offers great food, premier entertainment, and rich history. The area features diverse cultural offerings including performance art, historic architecture, and many museums. To explore the district’s 150-year story, you can take a guided walking tour, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a nighttime Ghosts of Gaslamp walk. Foodies will delight in the myriad exciting dining options around every corner. Often called the “historic heartbeat of San Diego,” this neighborhood is a must-see.

Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego (credit: San Diego Convention Center) 

Where to Eat

  • Café 21: Farm-freshy, healthy food and a popular happy hour.
  • Barleymash: Extensive beer list and great pub fare.
  • La Puerta: The best spot for Mexican food in Gaslamp.
  • Werewolf: A place for good burgers, beer, and scrumptious weekend breakfast.

Coronado—3 miles from Convention Center; 15 minutes by taxi or ferry

The Coronado coastline offers beautiful sandy beaches and a beachfront boardwalk filled with oceanfront dining, unique shops, and breathtaking views. The area is best known for the Victorian Hotel de Coronado, a 19th century-era grand resort that has hosted some of the biggest names in U.S. history. Soak up the sun on the beach or soak in the culture at the Coronado Museum of History & Art. Beyond beach lounging, you can sail, paddle, surf, kayak, and even ride on a gondola, Venetian-style. Coronado is a relaxing 15-minute ferry ride from the Convention Center.

Coronado, San Diego (credit: San Diego Convention Center) 

Where to Eat

  • Nado Gelato: Ranked by TripAdvisor as the #1 place to eat in Coronado, this spot offers authentic Italian gelato, a dessert to die for.
  • Poehe: A top-rated fine-dining restaurant offering fresh seafood and beautiful bay views.
  • Miguel’s Cocina: Where you’ll find the best Tex-Mex in Coronado.
  • Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge: A local gem with an eclectic menu that satisfies every palate.
  • Clayton’s Coffee shop: A neighborhood institution with classic diner fare.

Old Town—5.5 miles; 15-minute taxi ride

History is waiting for you in the “birthplace of California:” Old Town San Diego. Experience the past at one of the dozens of historic sites, reflect in the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, marvel at the 19th-century architecture, or attend any of the festivals and showcases that are planned for nearly every weekend. Round out your day with the fantastic authentic Mexican food that Old Town restaurants offer, reminiscent of California’s long history with its southern neighbor.

Old Town San Diego (credit: San Diego Convention Center) 

Where to Eat

  • Fiesta de Reyes: Live music and affordable Mexican food with festive décor.
  • Sushi Tadokoro: Traditional sashimi, nagiri, and saki.
  • Casa Guadalajara: Large portions of authentic Mexican cuisine.
  • Café Coyote: In a town with countless Mexican dining options, Café Coyote sets itself apart with beautiful décor, fresh food, and great drink specials.


Balboa Park—2.7 miles; 7-minute taxi ride

Though not technically a neighborhood, Balboa Park’s 1,200 acres offer enough to rival many nearby California enclaves. Just three miles from the Convention Center, the park boasts more than 15 diverse gardens, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and the famous San Diego Zoo. If that’s not enough to pique your interest (and how could it not be?!), Balboa Park also houses more than ten museums and over a dozen dining options. Performance art entertainment is also an option: go back in time and to the other side of the world by visiting The Old Globe Theater, modeled after Shakespeare’s playhouse in London. You can even get a round of golf in on the Park grounds. Whatever your interests, Balboa Park is an enticing destination.

Balboa Park, California (credit: San Diego Convention Center) 

Where to Eat

  • The Prado: Full-service American eatery in the heart of the park.
  • Panama 66: Inner-park laid-back spot for brews and bites.
  • Hash House A Go Go: a short walk from Balboa Park, serving market-fresh brunch and dinner with their signature Bloody Marys
  • Evolution: A casual vegan and vegetarian restaurant adjacent to Balboa.

La Jolla—16 miles; 20-minute taxi ride

This beachside getaway is known as the “jewel” of San Diego, and with its beautiful shoreline, famous Torrey Pines golf course, and endless water sport options, one doesn’t have to wonder why. If you’re coming with family, lounge on La Jolla Shores, which features wide sandy beaches and a calm surf perfect for kid-friendly fun. If it’s wildlife you’re after, visit The Children’s Pool, a tiny cove that serves as a haven for California sea lions. Swimmers, kayakers, divers, and snorkelers can find paradise in La Jolla Cove, the perfect spot for sport. After a long hard day of beach adventure, picnic on the grassy expanse of oceanfront Scripps Park, or dine beachfront at one of the area’s many fine-dining establishments.

La Jolla, California (credit: San Diego Convention Center) 

Where to Eat

  • George’s at the Cove: Contemporary American/seafood spot with expansive outdoor seating for a gorgeous ocean view.
  • The Taco Stand: local fast-food tacos with a great reputation.
  • Whisknladle: French, Spanish, and Italian inspired seasonal meals featuring farm-to-table ingredients
  • El Pescador Fish Market: Fresh fish at a counter-service market and restaurant.

Mission Bay—10 miles; 15- to 20- minute taxi ride

Mission Bay Aquatic Park is a 4,600-acre manmade water park, the largest of its kind in the world. Popular activities include surfing, jet-skiing, skateboarding, paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, and biking. Learn how to sail at the Aquatic Center, bike along the beach boardwalks, ride roller coasters at Belmont Park, or even take a moonlight cruise around the bay. With such an exhaustive list of activities to choose from, anyone can find something to do here. Mission Bay is also home to world-famous the park Sea World San Diego.

Mission Bay, San Diego (credit: San Diego Convention Center) 

Where to Eat

  • Luce Bar & Kitchen: Warehouse-chic bar serving pub grub & Sunday brunch.
  • Oceana Coastal Kitchen: Sushi bar, seafood, and a great view.
  • Phil’s BBQ: Hailed as the best barbecue in San Diego.
  • Coin-Op Game Room: Bites, cocktails, and craft brews in a spacious “barcade” with lots of games.


We look forward to seeing you in San Diego!

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