Easy choice. Gifts from the sea come in elegant -- and drool-inducing -- presentations at El Take It Easy, such as the fried clams pictured above. Dishes are augmented with locally sourced produce, and the entrées featuring beef and other meats use pastured and sustainably raised products. You'll need a car or a cab to get there from downtown, but the journey will be worth it.
Photograph: © Jay Porter
Cliffhangers and more. Head to Torrey Pines for a variety of popular outdoor activities. On the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, for example, golfers have been enjoying the 36 holes at the Torrey Pines Golf Course (left) since 1957. In addition, eight miles of scenic hiking trails run through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve , and hang-gliding lessons are on the agenda at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.
Photograph: © Maggie Walton
For cartoon connoisseurs. In the Gaslamp District, a few blocks from the convention center, visit the Chuck Jones Gallery to see original works by the Oscar-winning animator who created the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. If you have the funds, buy an original cel for your wall.
Photograph: Bugs Bunny © Warner Bros. 2011
Ship Shapes. Fans of seagoing vessels love the Maritime Museum of San Diego, where you can wander through historical yachts, sailboats, steamboats and submarines. Most fun? Go out on the tall ship Californian for a four-hour tour.
Photograph: © Jim Blank
Animal house: It's hard to think about San Diego without adding the word zoo -- just ask any of the 3.2 million animal lovers who visit the world-famous attraction each year (sandiegozoo.org)