City Spotlight: San Diego
The Golden State’s second-largest destination has long earned kudos for its group-friendly urban core, home to the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter and a top-tier convention center complex. But downtown is hardly San Diego’s only meetings draw. The city derives much of its appeal from the sum of its diverse, group-friendly northern neighborhoods, including Mission Valley, Mission Bay, Harbor and Shelter Islands, and North County. For faith-based planners, this area offers meeting-savvy properties and family-oriented attractions, all within convenient proximity to downtown and San Diego International Airport.
1. NAUTICAL BUT NICE
When looking for a work-and-play option for a meeting, a great starting point is Mission Bay, home to more than 4,600 acres of parkland, a trio of legendary
SoCal beaches (Ocean, Mission and Pacific) and the crowd-pleasing SeaWorld San Diego waterpark. Major meeting properties include the 462-room, waterfront Paradise Point Resort and Spa and the Bahia and Catamaran Resort Hotels, which share the Bahia Belle, a Mississippi-style sternwheeler perfect for cruises around Mission Bay. Just to the south sit Shelter and Harbor Islands, peaceful, private and home to the 1,053-room Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina.
2. MEETINGS CENTRAL
Mission Valley is blessed with sunny, warm weather and more than two dozen properties (almost 6,800 guest rooms) ranging from major chains to economy and extended-stay hotels. Comfort, convenience and cost-effectiveness make this area a favorite for faith-based groups, along with easy access to downtown, historic Old Town (and California’s first Catholic mission), the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park’s numerous museums. The Mission Valley Regional Conference Center (225,000 square feet of space), in the heart of “hotel circle” at the Town and Country Resort and Conference Center, remains the valley’s major meeting spot.
3. REACHING OUT
San Diego has extensive educational, religious and community networking options, from higher education sites like San Diego State, University of California San Diego, San Diego Christian College and Point Loma Nazarene University to major bases for the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy, the city’s largest employer.
4. FOR THE VIPS
Treat board members and organization leaders to something special in La Jolla in North County, which has upscale shops, restaurants, and art and antique galleries. The area is also a recreational paradise, with hiking, cycling, kayaking, tennis and golf—most notably the cliff-hugging, Pacific Ocean public course at Torrey Pines. If kids are in tow, take them to Carlsbad’s Legoland or Safari Park in Escondido. And for some tasty teambuilding, try a tour of the Chuao Chocolatier company, where up to 30 guests can create their own chocolate treats.