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Flexibility, fresh ocean air and fantastic options — being outside is definitely in, and San Diego allows planners to expand the footprint for their event space, so attendees feel safer, take in the city’s beautiful scenery, and feel more creative. Multiple studies have shown that time spent outdoors, surrounded by nature, sharpens our minds and boosts overall wellness.
Health care experts worldwide prescribe that people who get doses of ‘vitamin N’— for nature — feel less stress, more energy and feel revitalized thanks to gathering outdoors. Add in diverse geography, an average of 146 sunny days per year, and a walkable region packed with culturally rich neighborhoods and a multitude of things to do, and San Diego becomes a top destination for groups.
In addition to having near-perfect Southern California weather year-round, San Diego features a wealth of options for event venues that overlook beaches, bays and gorgeous landscapes dotted with palm trees. From the gardens at Stone Brewing World, ocean views at the Birch Aquarium’s outdoor space, or bayside breezes at Humphreys, planners can get a beach town vibe, a bustling downtown experience or timeless elegance — all in the same destination. Or, treat your delegates to an experience that makes a big splash by offering an unforgettable tour to discover the city’s charm and heritage on San Diego Bay.
With 70 miles of coastline and more than 30 beaches, the possibilities for extraordinary events are limitless, so we asked San Diego Tourism Authority’s Chief Sales Officer Kavin Schieferdecker to give meeting and event planners an insider’s look into how the city delivers for groups, and where to find the hidden gems.
As live events continue to return, how important is the concept of ‘indoor/outdoor’ events?
Indoor and outdoor live events are critical for the continued growth of the meetings and events industry. They are essential in creating a thriving environment of collaboration and inspiration.
With San Diego's consistently pleasant weather, meeting professionals can take advantage of outdoor spaces no matter the time of year. This is especially appealing for attendees traveling from colder climates who want to get out of indoor settings. Outdoor venues offer natural lighting, scenic environments, and adaptable arrangements for seating, entertainment and other activities. Furthermore, the natural elements, such as the sun, breeze, and open-air, create a more spacious atmosphere, providing a comfortable and safe environment.
How do the natural surroundings of San Diego, and California more broadly, make it an ideal destination for groups year-round?
San Diego's temperate climate is an essential factor for groups looking to host indoor and outdoor events. Boasting year-round sunshine, mild temperatures and low humidity, the region's weather conditions provide an unparalleled opportunity for event professionals to use San Diego’s stunning natural surroundings in conjunction with modern city amenities. From surf-soaked beaches to beautiful golf resorts or rooftop venues downtown, San Diego, and much of California, have it all when it comes to inspiring scenery and a plethora of leisure activities that make for great team building. The destinations are ideal backdrops for groups seeking motivation and enjoyment.
What are some best practices you'd recommend for groups holding events outdoor?
In post-pandemic times, meeting professionals should book early because requests for outdoor venues have increased dramatically. It's also imperative to inquire about necessary permits. Some municipalities require permits for any outdoor event, and it's important to become familiar with regulations and requirements. Another critical component to holding an outdoor event is preparing for varying weather elements: Plan for rental equipment like heaters or tents and confirm delivery details in advance. Using battery-operated equipment for candles and lanterns prevents the wind from blowing them out. Finally, ensure there is adequate lighting for dining areas and food stations, and clear pathways to transportation and restrooms.
Developing and executing an outdoor event takes teamwork, expertise and local knowledge. To ensure an unforgettable experience in San Diego, reach out to the San Diego Tourism Authority as a first step. Our sales representatives are the experts in America's Brightest City, and they can provide the information necessary to make your event memorable. From hotels to venues and services, our team can ensure your experience is productive and enjoyable.
Can you share some examples of memorable and exciting meetings that can take place in San Diego’s outdoor settings?
San Diego is fortunate to have an array of venues that allow meeting professionals and our local experts to drum up unique and interesting events.
The newest crown jewel to San Diego's portfolio is the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. Spanning 13,000 square feet, San Diego's new iconic bayfront venue is sure to make an impression whether it’s for a keynote address, a gala reception for 8,000 or an intimate dinner for 100 attendees. The Rady Shell offers picturesque views of Downtown San Diego, plus state-of-the-art equipment and amenities for any production.
One of the most popular places to hold a seaside meeting or beachside event is the historic Hotel del Coronado. Offering a breathtaking vista of the resort, the main beach lies in front of the property's Victorian Building. Groups have taken advantage of extras like fireworks displays and skydiving shows for an unforgettable experience.
San Diego's North County Inland offers show-stopping vistas, giving event planners the unique opportunity to incorporate stunning outdoor spaces accompanied by award-winning golf courses, wineries and luxurious hotels. Rancho Bernardo Inn stands out with its immense outdoor meeting area and opulent spa amenities, and an award-winning championship golf course, making it a top choice for groups.
Event planners also have been drawn to the magnificent coastal canyon sites of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, which received five-star ratings from Forbes for its spa and overall resort amenities. Its on-site restaurant, Addison, was recently awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide. Here, meeting professionals can leverage the region's beauty for outdoor team-building experiences by foot or horseback and later find a moment of inner peace through activities such as yoga, archery and meditation.