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San Diego Business Travel Guide

Meetings and Mojitos by the Sea

San Diego at Sunset
San Diego at Sunset

The Best Hotels, Restaurants and Activities for San Diego Business Travelers

San Diego's renaissance continues with a plethora of new hotels and restaurants to cater to business and tourist visitors. The convention center is ideally situated between the historic Gaslamp District of downtown and the picturesque Pacific Ocean. Accommodations range from large chains and smaller boutique hotels to affordable rooms and swank suites with every conceivable amenity. The culinary scene has come far and now boasts world-class chefs and outposts for names such as Brian Malarkey, Nobu Matsuhisa and Carl Schroeder. Music and dance venues abound, giving visitors after-hours options of nearly every type.

Although tourism and hospitality still dominate the business sectors, computer technology, biomedicine and a variety of other industries continue to multiply in this seaside city. The sunny weather, excellent accommodations and many sightseeing options make San Diego an ideal convention site that combines business with pleasure.

Facts to Know Before You Go - San Diego Business Travel

San Diego Airport Map:
McCarran International Airport | Airport Map by


Most business travelers will arrive at the San Diego International Airport. One of the country's most conveniently located airports, San Diego International is close to the freeway and is just a short taxi ride from downtown and the convention center. Once you've settled in, there are several good ways to navigate the city:

Rental Cars:

Traffic congestion is a Southern California hallmark, and yet most big cities still lack a widely used public transportation system. San Diego is no exception. Freeways are the most common mode of transportation, so rental cars are a popular and convenient option.

Public Transportation:

There are three modes of public transport: the San Diego Trolley, the Amtrak Coaster and the San Diego Bus System. The trolley system continues to expand; routes run from as far east as Santee, west to Old Town and south to San Ysidro, (all the way to the Mexican border). The majority of trolley stops have corresponding bus routes. See map for specific routes around the county.

Trolley and bus fares are based on trip distance; exact change is required. Specific fare information.

Amtrak train stations are conveniently located in the downtown area: there is the historic Santa Fe Depot and a few miles north of that is the Old Town Station. Although trains are not practical for local travel, they can be ideal for trips to Orange County, Los Angeles and other cities farther to the north.

Pedicabs are an easy and affordable way to get around the Gaslamp and Harbor areas. You can easily find one (or more) wandering the streets looking for fares.

Taxis & Shuttles:

Expect to pay between $15 to $20 for the five-to-ten minute (depending on traffic) taxi ride from the San Diego International Airport to the downtown region. Many hotels offer a free shuttle service, so be sure to ask your concierge.

For a list of shuttle services available, click:


For daily news, take in the San Diego Union Tribune. Business sources include The San Diego Daily Transcript and the San Diego Business Journal. For eclectic interest stories, try The Reader and City Beat

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Where to Stay -
San Diego Business Hotels

Hotel Solamar
435 Sixth Ave. (J Street)
San Diego, CA 92101
877-230-0300, 619-531-8740
Hotel Solamar is located in the Gaslamp District of San Diego
Solamar joins the ranks of those hotels determined to make the Gaslamp District hip. Its 235 guest rooms and suites are both funky and functional with oversized work desks, ergonomic chairs, a pair of two-line phones with data ports, flat screen TVs with DVD/CD players and lots of comps — high-speed Internet and WiFi access, daily newspaper, shoeshine and more. Expected treats of the sort you'd find in other Kimpton properties include pet-friendly amenities and "Om Away From Home," an in-room yoga channel and accessories. While the accommodations are noteworthy, the hands-down highlight here is the in-house restaurant JSix with its enticing atmosphere and award-winning coastal California cuisine.

The Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
207 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

Enjoy top-notch services at The Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

The Hard Rock Hotels have a reputation for providing top-notch, urban accommodations with rock-star-like service in high-profile locations. San Diego's twelve-story outpost is no exception with 420 guest rooms (including expansive studios, three-room suites and seventeen loft-like penthouses); a full-service spa with massages, facials and a fitness center; and world-class dining and entertainment options like the famed Nobu sushi restaurant and Float, the pool lounge and bar on the fourth floor rooftop with private cabanas. In addition, companies seeking state-of-the-art technology and non-traditional décor will appreciate the 40,000 square-feet of meeting space with a staff that is "hell-bent on spoiling them rotten." The largest indoor space is 9,000 square-feet and can hold more than 1,000 people. As expected, the scene is full of energetic people having a rocking good time.

Andaz San Diego
600 F St.
San Diego, CA 92101
A room at the Andaz San Diego

Andaz San Diego is an über-stylish luxury boutique hotel catering to the young, upwardly mobile hipster set. Set in the former Ivy Hotel in the hub of nightlife activity, Andaz boasts a sleek and sophisticated design. The hotel delivers personalized service with plenty of pampering. Mix that with good food, innovative cocktails and great nightlife, and that spells Andaz San Diego. Relax on the Andaz Rooftop, a minimally designed pool and cocktail area or party at the Ivy Nightclub. The 159 guest rooms and suites are sumptuous and anticipate almost every want or need. New complimentary amenities include a shot of espresso or glass of wine upon check-in, a mini-bar stocked with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, wireless Internet and unlimited local phone calls. Consider splurging on one of the suites such as the two-bedroom sweet suite (with couture furnishings, opulent soaking tub and gargantuan shower), the cabana suite, which adjoins the pool and sports an in-room spiral staircase or the sexy star suite (with plush king-size bunk beds, a spacious shower that holds fifteen people and an entertainment pole). Escalade car service takes guests to and from the nearby Gaslamp restaurants and clubs. Business travelers will also appreciate the business center, 24-hour in-room dining, Andaz Fitness Center and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

The US Grant, A Luxury Collection Hotel
326 Broadway St. (Third Street)
San Diego, CA 92101

An elegant room at The US Grant in San Diego, CA

A San Diego icon since 1910, The US Grant — a Luxury Collection Hotel, provides an exceptional experience steeped in legendary style. Built by Ulysses Grant Jr. in honor of his father, the iconic hotel fuses its storied history into a palace of contemporary yet classic luxury. Each of its 270 guest rooms, including 47 suites, guarantees a memorable and distinguished stay. Understated elegance pervades in warm earth tones and authentic artwork including custom drip painting headboards by acclaimed French artist Yves Clement. Comfort is enhanced with amenities including plush pillow-top mattresses wrapped in 300 thread count linens, bathrobes and slippers. The 42" flat screen television provides entertainment while business needs are met with an executive desk and Internet capabilities. The hotel's signature restaurant, The Grant Grill, offers seasonal California cuisine, craft cocktails and fine wines; or savor freshly prepared fare with the convenience of 24-hour in room dining. Conveniently located in downtown, The US Grant is adjacent to the Gaslamp Quarter with its more than 150 restaurants, shops and nightlife venues.

Omni San Diego Hotel
675 L St.
San Diego, CA 92101

Live the good life at Omni San Diego Hotel, located right by PETCO Park

You can't get any closer to the Padres' home field, PETCO Park, than staying at the Omni San Diego — it's literally connected to the field by a sky bridge. And the San Diego Convention Center? That's across the street. Location is one thing the marine-themed Omni has in spades, but it also meets the needs of business travelers with its high speed WiFI access, state-of-the-art business center, free fitness center and 21 meetings rooms totaling 27,000 square feet of function space, including their 9,000-square foot Grand Ballroom. Their "Wish No More" program offers great incentives for groups, such as box seats at a Padres game, welcoming reception and more. Groups can also enjoy brewmaster dinners with Karl Strauss and special craft beer tasting seminars. For those in need of relaxation, a heated pool, full-service spa and rooftop terrace with gorgeous views of the bay and city skyline view await. Guestrooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, pillow-top mattresses, plush terry robes and wet bars. McCormick & Schmick's restaurant downstairs continues the hotel's nautical theme by serving more than 30 varieties of fresh seafood as well as pasta and salads.

See our list of San Diego's 10 Best Business Hotels

Where to Dine -
San Diego Business Dining

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
207 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
Engage your senses at Nobu in San Diego

Dinner at Nobu will engage all your senses. Take your time and savor the aromas of miso and saké; the unusual flavor combinations of jalapeños, yuzu (Japanese citrus) and sea salt; the visual delight of ruby ahi, emerald cilantro and pearly abalone; the silky mouthfeel of raw scallops and the crunch of pickled vegetables; and, of course, listen to the ubiquitous pumping dance music of The Hard Rock Hotel. Nobu Matsuhisa's San Diego outpost does not disappoint. Service is efficient and informative, yet friendly and relaxed. In other words, you're in good hands and never need to feel intimidated or insecure about your knowledge of obscure ingredients or pronunciations.

Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
2204 Fourth St.
San Diego, CA 92101
New American
Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant in San Diego

At Bankers Hill, a blend of neighborhood hangout and big city style, the energetic yet low-lit setting entices both foodies and regulars. Chef and co-owner Carl Schroeder, of Market Restaurant + Bar fame, has created an exciting menu with creations that are artistic without being too precious. Try the roasted beet and citrus salad, BLT bruschetta or the deviled eggs to start. His pencil-thin crisp fries with truffle aïoli are a treat, so order the juicy burger as an excuse to have them. The pastas are homemade, such as pappardelle with braised chicken in Pinot Noir sauce and caramelized carrots; the hangar steak, tender and spiced with fennel, chili and paprika, shares a plate with a comforting twice-baked potato and Brussels sprouts. The waitstaff delivers informal yet astute service. Or sit at the zinc bar for barbecue-braised pork tacos with avocado and lime sour cream, and enjoy memorable sippers like the Conquistador, fine tequila piquant with jalapeño or select from their outstanding wine list, one of the best in town.

Bice Ristorante
425 Island Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
The modern dining room at Bice Ristorante in San Diego

Bice is one of the best upscale restaurants in the Gaslamp district where diners enjoy excellent Northern Italian cuisine in a modern sophisticated setting. Milano-born chef Mario Cassineri helms the kitchen with creative flair while GM Filippo Reitano commands the floor. The sprawling cheese and salami bar is worth the trip alone; try the various Italian formaggi served with chestnut, cranberry and mille fleurs honey — a sweet tomato jam and Mediterranean olives. A trio of tartares (ahi, salmon and sea bass) makes for a perfect second course. And then there's the pasta — handmade, al dente — that transfixes: gnocchi speckled with Asiago and pesto, orecchiette holding nuggets of hot Italian sausage and broccoli rabe, plump ravioli hiding a treasure trove of braised beef, veal and spinach in a subtle mushroom and Marsala sauce. Or try the branzino which appears whole on a cedar wood plank — delicate white fish infused with smoky flavor and elevated with a fresh herb truffle emulsion. The knowledgeable waitstaff is intuitive and relaxed, eager to divulge a wealth of culinary information. The immense wine vault, filled with lovely Italian and California wines, is a marvel and an oenophile's dream.

611 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
New American
The comfortable lounge at Searsucker in downtown San Diego

If you want to attend the most fetching downtown party, head over to Searsucker, the first of five clothing-themed restaurants from chef Brian Malarkey of "Top Chef" fame. Set in a 7,000-square-foot warehouse in the middle of the Gaslamp district, with a compelling design from Thomas Schoos, Searsucker offers cocktails curated by the Snake Oil Mixology team. The Treaty of Paris is a paean to aged rum, with burnt sugar cherry syrup, pressed lime and tobacco cologne. Whether you hang out in the comfortable lounge, hit the communal table or dine privately, the scene pulses and the people watching is excellent. Malarkey is all about protein, so carnivores gather round…the pork butt comes with grilled peaches and bacon emulsion, his "eggs + bacon" means a poached egg over pork belly smothered in hollandaise; and a tender filet is dressed up in lobster butter. And then there's the duck fat fries and "cowboy caviar," his version of Rocky Mountain Oysters. This social dining hub is all about fun and the show begins daily at 5 p.m.

Gaslamp Strip Club
340 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
Grill your own steak at the Gaslamp Strip Club in San Diego

The premise at the Gaslamp Strip Club is simple. Choose from a variety of raw proteins (steak, chicken and seafood), order a salad and a couple of family-style side dishes and head towards the grill. Yes folks, you have to cook your own food here at this stylish, masculine-themed hot spot, but that's part of the fun. Groups congregate at one of the central grills to cook strip steaks, kebabs and garlic bread. Cleverly posted directions (i.e. grill side and eye level) ensure that even novices can come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

Off the Clock -
San Diego Business Entertainment


Save money on top attractions with CityPass

If you're vacationing on a budget, consider buying the Southern California CityPass. Buy a booklet online for one fee and you can gain access to top attractions not only in San Diego, but also in Anaheim and Hollywood. Participating parks include SeaWorld, so you can cheer on Shamu and come within inches of a polar bear without breaking the bank.

Torrey Pines Golf Club
11480 Torrey Pines Rd.
La Jolla, CA 92037

Play cliffside at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, CA

Play the game of a lifetime at the famed cliffside Torrey Pines Golf Course, a short drive north of downtown in beautiful coastal La Jolla. Boasting two 18-hole courses, this golfer's paradise is set atop towering bluffs over the Pacific Ocean and is home to the PGA Tour's The Farmers Insurance Open. Don't miss the chance to play in the footsteps of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Vin de Syrah
901 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101-6101

Vin de Syrah, a whimsical wine lounge in San Diego

Descend below the crowds of San Diego's Gaslamp into an underground playground where a whimsical spirits and wine lounge awaits. Botanical chandeliers, oversized furniture and bright green foliage with 50-year-old vines on the walls sets the stage, the vision of one of San Diego's finest designers, Michael Soriano. Enjoy artisanal cheese and charcuterie and wine tastings galore. Entertainment features DJs, jazz trios and R&B.

100 Park Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92101

PETCO Park is located in the middle of downtown San Diego

San Diego's PETCO Park is located smack dab in the middle of the downtown action. From April to October, after the business day is done, sports fans can appreciate the state-of-the-art, 42,445-seat ballpark for a Padres game. Fans experience breathtaking views of the boat-filled bay, downtown skyline, historic Balboa Park and majestic mountains to the east — not to mention the on-the-diamond skills of Trevor Hoffman and Khalil Greene. Catch a game solo or rent a festive party suite.

House of Blues
1055 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Catch your favorite band at House of Blues in San Diego

Located in the heart of the Gaslamp District, the House of Blues is San Diego's one-stop-shop for musical entertainment. Grab a bite of spicy New Orleans fare in the restaurant, then head into the approximately 900-seat concert hall venue to catch bands as diverse as The Strokes and the Black Eyed Peas. If business calls for it, you can rent out the upstairs VIP seats for a night of corporate bonding or mill around the music-loving crowd on the downstairs stage level. Weekend travelers might enjoy the all-you-can eat Sunday brunch buffet, accompanied by live-on-stage performances by regional gospel groups. Check out other special events, too, including Saturday Blues & Barbecue and weekday Lightning Lunches.

For more information, visit the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau at

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* Convention Center, Torrey Pines Golf Course and PETCO images courtesy of
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