Visiting San Diego – A Starter Kit

Ed Wenck with Terry Morton (Land & Sea Entertainment), Dave Arland (Arland Communications), and Steve Multer (SKM Creative)
Jun 20, 2017

By now, it’s a safe bet that you’ve heard CEDIA Expo 2018 will be held in San Diego – a locale that marketers and P.R.-types refer to as “not a tough sell.”

Seriously, early September in San Diego means abundant sunshine and an average high of 77 with lows in the mid-60s. Mix in ocean breezes off the Pacific, spectacular beaches, and sunsets over the water, and you’ve got a town that hardly needs to advertise to draw convention and trade show business.

But beyond the weather, the town’s got its own unique architectural, culinary, and entertainment charms. With some help from integrator Terry Morton (of SD’s own Land and Sea Entertainment), and communications gurus Dave Arland and Steve Multer (both regular visitors), we compiled the following list of eats, sights, and sports.

Neighborhoods Nearby

The Gaslamp Quarter

The Convention Center is perched on the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter, which just celebrated its 150th Anniversary last year. It’s 16-plus blocks of dining and entertainment wrapped in brilliant Victorian architecture.

Old Town

Old Town is the birthplace of San Diego and its original Spanish settlement. Very popular and only five minutes from downtown, the center is like a Mexican village market. Lots of shopping, tons of Mexican food (and other) dining options, some outdoors on big plazas with live mariachis or folk music. (Arland/Multer)


Just across the water from the CEDIA Expo home base is Coronado, a gorgeous and expensive community in the middle of San Diego Harbor. Centered on the famous Hotel del Coronado, co-star of the classic old comedy “Some Like It Hot,” the tiny downtown next to “the Del" is a great place to stroll, feel like you’re a billionaire, eat, shop, play on the massive beaches, explore the hotel, and have a lovely couple of hours. You can take a water taxi from the Convention Center, too. (A/M)

Mission and Pacific Beaches

Riding bikes on the Mission Beach/Pacific Beach boardwalk is great and super easy. There are several simple joints along Mission Beach Blvd. that rent for $7/day and riders can either cruise along the quiet bay side or the crowded ocean side which are literally two blocks from each other. Sailing or sculling on Mission Bay is also brilliant. You can rent boats and sculls from the Mission Bay Aquatic Center or numerous other retailers and be out on the water in minutes. (A/M)

Eats and Drinks


This town is craft beer paradise – so much so that a great many brewers (Green Flash, Ballast Point, and the ubiquitous Stone Brewing) have found success with national – heck – even global – distribution. This list from San Diego’s weekly paper, the Reader, was compiled back in 2013, but the big hitters are all here.

Vino, too

Brewskis not your speed? We’ve read SD’s wineries – in a state ruled by Sonoma and Napa names – are still nothing to sneeze at. An-under-the-radar winemaking scene is slowly blossoming, and this quick read from Eater has some interesting picks.


What can we say? This is a big town, and the list of great eats is daunting. We did receive some picks from the Arland/Multer dynamic duo – here’s a few (your mileage may vary):

The Prado, 1549 El Prado, Balboa Park. Top pick if you’re planning a large team dinner, one of the prettiest and most inviting rooms and terraces in the country, smack in the center of the park - not the best food in the city but very good, something for everyone, a memorable experience, reasonable prices (especially for the awesome setting), and close to the CEDIA Expo show. Here's more.
Blue Water Grill, 3667 India St. Super casual diner environment – you order at the counter then receive table service, but in our view, it is hands-down the best seafood in San Diego.

Register for CEDIA Expo Education here.

Craft Commerce, 675 W. Beech St., Little Italy. Excellent gastropub with seasonal eats and craft cocktails.

Ironside, 1654 India St., Little Italy. Fantastic seafood, oysters, and chowder in one of the coolest dining rooms anywhere.

Sushi Ota. 4529 Mission Bay Dr., Pacific Beach. Far and away the best sushi in San Diego, it’s always packed with Japanese locals. Reservations are a must.
Civico, 1845 India St., Little Italy. Super Italian and Mediterranean food, casual and laid-back.
Old Town Mexican Café, 2489 San Diego Ave., Old Town. This is a popular local spot for fresh, hand-made tortillas (watch the ladies up front doing their thing) plus plenty of margaritas. It’s great for big groups since it’s loud and communal.

Stuff to See and Do

Petco Park

The home of the San Diego Padres is also the venue for the 2018 CEDIA Awards. Sitting on the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter, there are great spots for eats and drinks just beyond the confines of its outfield (and attendant pet park).

The USS Midway

It's floating US Naval museum — and last year's awards venue. Learn more about the ship here.

The San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park (five minutes up the hill from the CC) is huge, built in hills and valleys with heavily varied terrain, includes bus tours and a sky ride, shows, and has a plant and tree collection worth far more than the overwhelming animal collection. And it’s home to the most powerful endangered and animal reproduction facility on the planet. (A/M)

Balboa Park
Balboa Park was built for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, and the size is perfect: You can  walk and see it all easily, and the variety of vegetation, architecture, culture, museums, and sights within the park are incredibly varied and beautiful. (A/M)



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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