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San Diego Offers JSM Attendees Much to Do, See

1 May 2012 No Comment
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Queen Califia’s Magical Circle: Niki de St. Phalle sculpture garden in Kit Carson Park, Escondido. Admission is free. Hours are 9 a.m. to sunset daily. It is most convenient if you visit this on a trip to the San Diego Safari Park or another site in Escondido. (760) 839-4691.

Niki de Saint Phalle’s statuary: Displayed outdoors in San Diego. The face on the convention center grounds, titled “Coming Together,” is by her.

Maritime Museum of San Diego: Open daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Independent of the USS Midway.

USS Midway: Retired aircraft carrier with about 20 aircraft on deck. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visions Art Museum: The Art of the Quilt. Admission is $5; children under 12 are free. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

San Diego calls itself America’s finest city, and the variety of attractions and activities do make it a fine vacation destination. Following are some highlights of local things to do, as endorsed by the ASA local area committee. For more, visit the convention and visitor’s bureau. The visitor’s bureau site has information about all the activities listed below. If you set the calendar to the dates that interest you, you can find many of the activities scheduled for those days.

Within walking distance of the convention center is the city’s waterfront, the Embarcadero. Here, you can tour an aircraft carrier at the USS Midway Museum, visit a collection of historic ships at the floating Maritime Museum, or catch a cruise of the bay.

The historic Gaslamp Quarter, adjacent to the convention center, is best known for its nightlife, but features boutique shopping and great dining, too.

Seaport Village, catering to tourists, is also just a few steps from the convention center. It is a nice place to catch some sun and souvenir shop between sessions.

Balboa Park, a few minutes by car from downtown, was the site of the 1915 Pan-American Exposition and is America’s largest urban cultural park. While you may plan to visit the park to see the world-famous San Diego Zoo, consider taking in the rest of the park, too. It contains a multitude of smaller museums, the Old Globe Theater, an artist village, an outdoor organ pavilion, and numerous gardens. The Prado restaurant is rated highly for outdoor dining. If you visit the zoo, set aside several hours, bring good walking shoes, and be prepared for lots of hills (unless the bus tour is more your speed). If you plan to visit the zoo and the rest of Balboa Park, allow at least two full days; alternatively, plan for a full-day speed walk.

Coronado Island sits in San Diego Bay and is accessible by car or ferry from the Embarcadero. It is home to one of the best beaches in America and the Hotel Del Coronado, where visitors can check out the hotel and shops and enjoy seaside drinks or dining at several restaurants. Coronado is a great place to get an ice cream cone and stroll along the Pacific, or rent a bike to cover more of the island. The public Coronado Golf Course is one of the most affordable and beautiful in the area.

The peninsula of Point Loma is home to Cabrillo National Monument. Here, you can catch sweeping views of the city, see a historic lighthouse, and take a short hike along the bayside trail. Another great place for a walk along the ocean is Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. The beach community of Ocean Beach boasts restaurants renowned for their burgers and fish tacos.

Old Town San Diego is convenient to the convention center via trolley. The Old Town State Historical Park, housing many buildings from the early days of the city, gives a glimpse of 19th-century life in San Diego. Visitors can catch tours and demonstrations and find more souvenir shops here. Old Town has a high concentration of Mexican restaurants and cantinas. Southern California’s history is deeply entwined with that of the missions that dot the coast. California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcala (restored), is a few miles east of Old Town in Mission Valley.

Mission Bay is the site of Sea World San Diego, a marine life adventure park where guests can find rides, shows, exhibits, animal encounters, and nightly fireworks. Mission Bay also offers miles of waterside trails and is a good place to try out kayaking or paddle boarding away from the crashing ocean waves. Head up to the cross on Mount Soledad for a beautiful city view; it’s a nice place to see the city lights at night.

The city of La Jolla has a great deal to offer visitors. The village has high-end shopping and dining, while you can get a close-up view of the sea lions and harbor seals at the Children’s Pool in the cove. La Jolla Shores is another great family-friendly beach you may want to consider for a kayak tour or surfing lesson. Here, you may be able to snorkel with the leopard sharks that are often by shore in early August. The Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Birch Aquarium is nearby. Also nearby is the University of California, San Diego, which has diverse art scattered around the open areas of the campus, a spectacular library building, and sculpture gardens.

North of La Jolla is Torrey Pines, famous for its golf course and the location of a state park with a gorgeous beach and hiking trails. Those looking for a longer hike should head here. Adventurous souls may want to check out the glider port, where you can ride tandem with an experienced paraglider. The less adventurous may enjoy watching the colorful sails floating and swooping along the coast.

Hikers looking for more elevation may want to visit Mission Trails Regional Park for a morning or evening hike up Cowles Mountain.

If you enjoy exercising your knowledge of probability at the track, JSM overlaps with racing season at Del Mar Racetrack, “where the turf meets the surf.” The track, opened by a partnership between Bing Crosby and friends sits on Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.

Being on the Pacific coast, San Diego offers many opportunities for boating. Short harbor cruises originate at the Maritime Museum, about a 20-minute walk north from the convention center. Longer cruises, whale-watching, and sport fishing trips originate at Point Loma, about a five-minute cab ride from the convention center, just west of the San Diego Airport.

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