Categories: News, Newsletter, Newsletter Issue 2024:2

Welcome to San Diego!

By Brandyn Churchill and Joe Sabia

As two people who truly adore San Diego — Brandyn as an alumnus who loves returning and Joe as a faculty member who just can’t leave — we are thrilled that ASHEcon is coming to America’s Finest City. Reaching across the generations, we are pleased to give you our recommendations of places to eat, things to do, and tips to stay out of (or get into!) trouble in San Diego during your ASHEcon visit!


San Diego has several fantastic breakfast spots. For those willing to wake up early or wait in line, Morning Glory in Little Italy offers an award-winning menu of breakfast foods and brunch cocktails. If you are willing to travel a bit, we also recommend the pancake flight from Snooze in Hillcrest. Another popular breakfast/brunch spot in Hillcrest is Hash House A Go Go — very generous portions! Parkhouse Eatery in University Heights offers a unique, Portuguese-inspired brunch experience.  Those looking to stay closer to the conference hotel will enjoy Richard Walker’s Pancake House. They are known for their baked pancakes, though with a 15-minute cooking time they are not for those rushing to get to an 8AM session.


If you have been craving barbeque since last year’s ASHEcon in St. Louis, we have good news for you! Kansas City Barbeque, which was a filming location for scenes in the movie Top Gun, is a convenient lunchtime option only 5 minutes from the conference hotel. However, if you are looking for a more San Diego-specific barbeque experience, you should try the tri-tip at Phil’s BBQ.

Puesto in Seaport Village is a great spot for modern Mexican, and the Crack Shack in Little Italy is well-known for its chicken and biscuits.  Underbelly, also in Little Italy, is one of the best Ramen places in San Diego.  If you’re looking for Thai, Lotus Thai Cuisine on Markey Street may be for you. San Diego is known for its burritos, and Adalberto’s and Señor Taquero are strong options located close to the conference hotel. Other favorites throughout the city include Humberto’s and Roberto’s.


Given San Diego’s beautiful weather and scenery, many restaurants offer visitors the opportunity to eat excellent food while enjoying gorgeous views. Cucina Urbana offers fabulous modern Italian options. If you’re looking for tasty French options, Parc Bistro Brasserie. Herb and Wood offers rustic wood-fired dishes with a Mediterranean flair. Ironside, in Little Italy, is popular for those craving seafood.  Two options for steak and seafood where you can’t go wrong — Island Prime and C-Level on Harbor Island — located not far from downtown.  Rustic Root in Gaslamp offers New American comfort food and a rooftop bar. Mister A’s offers fine dining and a stunning 180-degree view of the San Diego skyline that is perfect for your social media posts. Note that there is a dress code, so it isn’t a place to try and come immediately after leaving the beach! Similarly, Peohe’s – located across the San Diego Bay from the conference hotel on Coronado Island – offers fantastic views of the downtown skyline. There is a convenient ferry that will take you from the conference hotel to Coronado Island for only $8. Finally, if you are willing to drive ~20 minutes to La Jolla, there are many great options for you, including the Marine Room, Nine-Ten, Catania, and Manhattan of La Jolla, all close to the crashing waves of the Pacific. If you head up a bit earlier, you can walk around La Jolla Cove to see the newly born baby sea lion pups.


San Diego is home to a number of award-winning breweries, including Stone Brewing (Liberty Station), Karl Strauss Brewing (15-minute walk from the conference hotel), and Pizza Port (Ocean Beach). Noble Experiment is a hidden-away speakeasy guaranteed to be a great time. The Lion’s Share offers eclectic cocktails. If you like tasty drinks while slowly moving in circles, Wolfie’s Carousel Bar is for you! insideOUT in Hillcrest is another great option to have drinks (and dinner) at an elevated restaurant and lounge. The conference hotel is adjacent to Gaslamp Quarter with 94 Victorian Era buildings that now serve as restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. A notable highlight is Whiskey House with its collection of over 4,000 whiskeys from around the world.


The San Diego Zoo is regularly ranked as the best in the world. With over 100 acres, 12,000 animals, and numerous educational programs, it is a must-see attraction for folks of all ages. For those looking to enjoy San Diego’s beaches, Coronado Central Beach and Mission Beach (where Joe lives!) are family-friendly, Ocean Beach offers a more bohemian experience, while Pacific Beach caters to a younger crowd. A few miles north of downtown is Hillcrest, San Diego’s LGBTQ+ central hub, offering a variety of restaurants, bars, coffee houses, unique shops, and exciting nightlife.  Other fun activities include:

  • Balboa Park: The cultural heart of the city with 1,200 acres of museums, theaters, gardens, open spaces, and walking paths.
  • Belmont Park: A fun oceanfront retro amusement park that is fun for the whole family.
  • San Diego County Fair: One of the largest county fairs in the United States with concerts, rides, food, and so much more (located in Del Mar, about 25-30 minutes from downtown).
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Worth the 45-minute drive (located in Escondido) to an amazing experience observing an expensive wildlife sanctuary home to over 3,500 animals representing more than 400 species.
  • Sunset Cliffs: Some of the best sunset views in the country.  
  • USS Midway: The longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century is now an aircraft carrier museum in San Diego Bay.