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RIMS 2016: San Diego insiders' recommendations


Besides ideal weather and miles of Pacific coastline, San Diego, the host city for the 2016 Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. Conference & Exhibition, offers attractions, fine dining and getaways in town or a few hours away by car. Business Insurance polled a group of local risk management and insurance professionals for their recommendations of things to see, do and eat.

Kelly Rossi
Risk manager
Becton, Dickinson & Co.

Dining: Peohe's and Il Fornaio in Coronado. Ask for an outside table at the latter for a gorgeous view of San Diego Bay.

Attractions: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve just north of San Diego has great hiking trails right above the ocean.

Getaway: Julian is a very quaint mountain town about an hour east of San Diego that's known for its famous apple pie.

Liz Zepeda
Project coordinator/risk manager
Chelsea Investment Corp.

Dining: The first is a bit north of the city but worth the drive: Jake's Del Mar is right on the beach and the seafood is spectacular. For a treat downtown by Horton Plaza – the mussel bisque at Dobson's Bar & Restaurant can't be beat.

Attractions: Lots to see in scenic Balboa Park – a variety of museums – my favorite is the San Diego Museum of Art. A short walk away, the Japanese Friendship Garden is filled with cherry blossoms this time of year!

Getaway: Stroll the beach on Coronado Island and stop by the historic Hotel Del Coronado for a spa treatment.

Melissa Losasso
Casualty program manager, risk finance and insurance
CenturyLink Inc.

Dining: Puesto in Seaport Village has the best gourmet tacos in San Diego. My favorite local watering hole is Werewolf American Pub. It has the friendliest servers, great food and free Keno during happy hour.

Attractions: San Diego has a great craft brewery scene. There are more than a dozen breweries or tasting rooms within walking distance of the convention center where the 2016 RIMS conference will be held. A few of my favorites are Mission Brewery, Half-Door Brewing Co., Stone Brewing Co. and Bolt Brewery.

Getaway: My favorite getaway is Palm Springs, about two hours from San Diego. The vibe is laid-back, and the weather is almost always perfect. Try the live music on the patio of Las Casuelas Terraza, and for an overnight stay I highly recommend the Riviera Palm Springs.

Felicia Amenta
Workers compensation program manager
San Diego County and Imperial County Schools Joint Powers Authority

Dining: I love Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in the Gaslamp District and La Jolla. My favorites are the filet and lobster duo, and the chocolate lava dessert is fantastic. The brunch at Fig Tree Cafe in Pacific Beach is wonderful, and they have the best eggs Benedict in town.

Attractions: We like to walk through the Little Italy area downtown for a gelato or cannoli and have dinner at Buon Appetito for the best pasta and a great wine selection. Ocean Beach is a fun, eclectic beach neighborhood, and we like to take a walk on the pier and have fish tacos and beer at South Beach on the upper deck with an ocean view.

Getaway: My favorite place in San Diego is the Hotel Del Coronado, and I love to stroll around the hotel shops and gardens, walk on the beach and have lunch with my family at the Sheerwater.

Kimberly Dyess
Grancell, Stander, Reubens, Thomas and Kinsey

Dining: My favorite pizza place in San Diego is a little hole in the wall in La Jolla called Johnny Carino's. The doors are so tiny, you literally have to walk in sideways. It's been around since the '70s and is best to order a pie and head two streets over to sit at a picnic table or in the grass overlooking the tide pools in La Jolla Shores.

Attractions: Spend some time on a tandem bike or personal pedicab through Coronado. The unique homes are stunning, and the shopping is excellent.

Getaway: If you're in the mood for an exquisite afternoon culinary experience and maybe a little local antiquing, I strongly suggest the Queen Victoria Tea at Aubrey Rose Tea Room in La Mesa. While their house tea is delicious, I wouldn't leave without trying the Paris tea. Savory sandwiches, scones, fresh desserts and plenty of unique shopping, Aubrey Rose is the best tea room in San Diego, maybe in all of California.

Diane Caminite
Risk and safety manager
San Diego Unified Port District

Dining: Island Prime/C Level, Harbor Island. Just a few minutes from downtown San Diego, this restaurant has a stunning view of the San Diego skyline, along with great food and a lively atmosphere. It's nice to dine on the patio to experience the view. Next door to Island Prime/C Level is Coasterra, a Mexican-themed restaurant that also features panoramic bay views.

Attractions: San Diego Seal Tour – this is a unique and fun way to learn about San Diego by land and sea. The tours are held on amphibious vehicles – guided by experienced captains – that travel through the scenic streets before diving into San Diego Harbor, home to many California sea lions. The tours depart from Seaport Village and are about 90 minutes long.

Getaway: My favorite is the beach in Coronado. It's a short trip from downtown over the Coronado Bridge. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego.

Duane Johnson
Director of business development
WorkPartners Occupational Health Specialists

Dining: You can't visit San Diego and not have a fish taco. In my opinion the best fish tacos in town come from Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill, a hidden gem close to the airport and featured on Food Network's “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” From fish tacos to chowder or fresh oysters on the half shell, you won't go wrong!

Attractions: San Diego takes craft beer seriously. We are the nation's No. 1 craft beer destination with more than 115 local breweries. I recommend visiting the innovators such as Ballast Point Brewing Co., Stone Brewing Co. or Green Flash Brewing Co.

Getaway: I recommend enjoying a fantastic dinner and the stunning views of the San Diego skyline at sunset on a Hornblower Dinner Cruise. If you are in town on Sunday morning, the brunch cruise is even better! The port is located conveniently downtown and just minutes from the San Diego airport.

Joyce Genita
Adviser, risk management
Becton, Dickinson & Co.

Dining: My favorite restaurant is Eddie V's Prime Seafood in La Jolla because of the exceptional food and wine offerings and, of course, the spectacular view. I also enjoy Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse in downtown San Diego. The restaurant offers a large selection of choice meats (including filet mignon) carved tableside from skewers, a salad bar and an extensive wine list.

Attractions: Balboa Park has enough museums, gardens, theaters and street performers to entertain anyone for an entire day.

Getaway: Temecula, a quaint town about an hour north of San Diego, is home to a couple of Southern California's favorite wineries. There are a lot of charming bed and breakfasts and hotels that offer wine tour packages, which makes it very convenient to enjoy the day without worrying about getting behind the wheel. They also have a casino resort in town that offers Las Vegas-style amenities and gaming.

Armond Sarkis
Corporate director of risk management
Welk Resort Group Inc.

Dining: Best place to enjoy togarashi sesame spiced ahi tuna is at the Marine Room in La Jolla, where the restaurant is practically on the surf. During high tide, the waves crash onto the panorama windows. For a fine dining experience and a commanding view of the downtown skyline, head to Bertrand at Mister A's in the Banker's Hill area.

Attractions: Cabrillo National Monument at Point Loma, where Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed in 1592 and is widely considered the first European to step on the West Coast, and world-famous San Diego Zoo at the Balboa Park.

Getaway: Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa is good for a relaxing quick getaway, and The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla for golfing and a unique experience in a Five Diamond property.

David Dolnick
Risk manager
The Brady Cos.

Dining: My favorite place in town is Piacere Mio, a great little Italian spot at 1947 Fern St. in South Park, a little northeast of downtown. Reservations are a must; they fill up fast and stay busy until closing time, but the food is fabulous and the service is comfortable and gracious. The house-made pastas are the star, but don't overlook their fresh daily specials.

Attractions: Anything in Balboa Park, but the San Diego Zoo has a very special place in my heart. It is among the very best in the world and a leader in species preservation.

Getaway: The half-day or three-quarter-day sport fishing trips can be a lot of fun in the spring (try H&M Landing) or a drive up to Julian.