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Top places to explore in San Diego

Explore, experience and discover a few places that make San Diego, San Diego. Whether it’s learning about local history at a museum, shopping, or relaxing in nature, this list has it all. Can’t decide where to go? Consider riding along an in-depth, 25-mile, 11-stop trolley tour.

Among ideas for places to visit while in town for the 2023 AAOMS Annual Meeting:

  • The Embarcadero – The Embarcadero walkway along the San Diego Bay connects to a waterfront park and working fishing harbor along with museums, shops and restaurants.
  • USS Midway Museum – Named after the Battle of Midway in 1942, the USS Midway (now docked in San Diego Bay) was the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. It became a museum in 2004 after being decommissioned in 1992. Learn carrier aviation history through the almost 10 acres of displays – including more than 30 restored aircrafts – and exhibits. Purchase tickets to the Annual Meeting’s main social event, the President’s Event, to explore this massive museum and celebrate Dr. Paul J. Schwartz and his wife, Olga.
  • San Diego Zoo – Opened in 1916, the 100-acre San Diego Zoo and 1,800-acre San Diego Safari Park house more than 15,000 animals combined. Not able to visit in person? View a few of the animals on the live cameras.
  • Balboa Park – Stroll around more than 1,000 acres through various museums, gardens, and arts and international culture associations at Balboa Park.
  • Fashion Valley Mall – With over 200 stores, the shopping center contains international fashion houses (including Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci) as well as department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Shop in Fashion Valley Malls’s open-air environment, and end the day at one of its many restaurants.
  • Sunset Cliffs Natural Park – Enjoy panoramic ocean views in the coastal bluffs, arches and sea caves at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Welcome the nighttime as spectacular sunsets can be seen across this 68-acre stretch of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park – Experience the past and learn about the city’s early history at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Restored original old-time buildings allow visitors to learn about Mexican and early American life from 1821-72.
  • The New Children’s Museum – Bringing the whole family to the Annual Meeting? Be sure to visit The New Children’s Museum where children’s imagination can be stimulated through immersive contemporary art experiences.
  • Gaslamp Quarter – Looking for a night out on the town? The Gaslamp Quarter is known for its nightlife, including restaurants, shops, bars, clubs, live music, comedy shows and cigar lounges.
  • Petco Park – Big baseball fan? Catch a San Diego Padres game at Petco Park.
  • Bayfront Park – Start the day with a delightful panoramic view on San Diego’s waterfront while walking through Bayfront Park.
  • San Diego Museum of Art – View stunning art pieces from all around the world, including collections focused on Asia, Iran and the Americas at the San Diego Museum of Art. Best known for Spanish old master paintings, its other exhibits focus on open air art, portraits and impressionism.
  • San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge – Encompassing about 2,620 acres of land and water around San Diego Bay, the National Wildlife Refuge protects a vast variety of species in an urbanized coastal environment. Visitors are invited to join in wildlife watching and birding along a series of short trails.


Photos courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority


Photo courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority


Photo courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority


Photo courtesy of Lisa Field