© Annie Pearson, SanDiego.org

All in all, what the locals proudly refer to as “America’s Finest City” should provide relief from a long day of meetings or pounding the show floor.

© uss midway museum

Attendees at the 2016 Golf Industry Show in San Diego Feb. 6-11 may be greeted by the city’s typical year-round meteorological menu of sunshine and 70 degrees, given the El Nino forecasts for what passes for winter in these parts, but rain or shine, there are plenty of things to do away from the downtown Convention Center’s show floor. Even first-time San Diego visitors are no doubt aware of city landmarks like the world famous San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Torrey Pines Golf Course and its numerous bay and ocean beaches, but downtown’s ever-evolving array of restaurants, bars, clubs and attractions will offer even frequent visitors some new options.

© joanne dibona, SanDiego.org

More about the limitless array of dining and imbibing possibilities later, but for those who have some time to spare, there are plenty of things to explore. Several interesting options are within walking distance of many downtown hotels, including Seaport Village and its collection of quaint shops and restaurants on San Diego Harbor. Equally close by, a brisk walk, short cab ride or even a pedi-cab ride away, are the Flagship Cruises and Hornblower bay cruise fleets which offer close-up looks at the Coronado Bridge, the U.S. Navy fleet at North Island and panoramic views of San Diego’s downtown skyline. They also feature a dinner cruise with music and dancing and a Sunday brunch cruise combining excellent dining and beverage service as you sail the calm bay waters, in addition to whale watching excursions on the ocean off San Diego. There are also regular ferry rides from downtown San Diego across the bay to Coronado, where a trip to the famed Hotel Del Coronado is a must. Nearby, the legendary World War II aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, is docked as a floating museum open for public tours. History and culture buffs can also wander through nearby Balboa Park, home to the Museum of Man, the San Diego Hall of Champions with its tributes to San Diego sports icons including what is likely the world’s biggest collection of native son Ted Williams’ memorabilia, the Old Globe Theater, and a number of other art and historical museums. Although the Padres won’t be in residence in February, their beautiful Petco Park is across the street from the convention center. For shopping fans, Horton Plaza is a bonanza of chain and local specialty stores within walking distance from hotels and the convention center.

© joanne dibona, SanDiego.org

For a complete list of dining, drinking and clubbing alternatives available within walking distance or a 5-10 minute cab ride from the convention center, we would need considerably more editorial space than this. Suffice it to say, no matter your taste or your budget there are plenty of options to choose from. The Gaslamp District begins directly across the street from the convention center and encompasses a 16-square block area packed with, among other things, more than 70 restaurants, ranging from fine dining to fast food and everything in between. Hotel concierges will undoubtedly be able to provide visitors with some nearby recommendations for any taste, but several friends a good deal more hip than I have suggested some that may or may not be on the list of standard fare. Some are The Shout House, The Field, The Tipsy Crow, a popular wine bar known as Vin De Syrah, or Puesto at The Headquarters in Seaport Village, reportedly one of the city’s top stops for tacos and other Mexican delights. If you’re a craft beer fan, San Diego is the place for you. Home to the Stone Brewing Company and many others, San Diego is rated the No. 1 craft beer city in the U.S. by numerous publications. Most downtown venues offer a good selection, including The Quad Alehouse, The Yard House and Downtown Johnny Brown’s, all in the Gaslamp.

While not part of the Gaslamp, Little Italy is only a few blocks away, and has its own array of both landmark favorite eateries and new in-crowd favorites. Some of the newer establishments are Kettner Exchange (shockingly located on Kettner Avenue), Bencotto Italian Kitchen, Pappalecco for gelato, and the slightly tonier Ironside Fish and Oyster.

© joanne dibona, SanDiego.org

Another enclave is Old Town, minutes from the airport and only a short cab or trolley ride from downtown. In addition to numerous historical displays and exhibits highlighting the city’s Hispanic roots, there are, not surprisingly, some locally renowned Mexican restaurants including Old Town Mexican Cafe (the carnitas are muy bien), Casa Guadalajara and Coyote Cafe. If you’re a fan of margueritas and mariachis serenading you while you sample them, you’ll enjoy the visit.

Jim Dunlap is a writer based in Encinitas, Calif., and is a frequent GCI contributor.