Pittcon 2024 Preview – San Diego: Biotech Beach, Balboa Park and Craft Brews

I’ve been excited about the prospect of Pittcon coming to San Diego since it was announced in the upcoming schedule some years ago. From my Los Angeles perspective, this is practically in my backyard – for once those early Monday meetings will not come with a vicious 3 hour time change. I’m sure many of you have been to San Diego for other shows, but this is the first-ever Pittcon in San Diego. We’ll cover the show in the pages of IBO afterwards, but for now I wanted (as an almost-local) to offer you an idea of what to do and see and eat, particularly if you plan some extra time in the city to take advantage of the California sun.

The Pittcon Conference and Exposition will be held February 24-28 at the San Diego Convention Center, home to many other lab shows from time to time, as well as the fabled San Diego Comic-Con in the summer. Due to the concentration of biotechnology companies in and around San Diego, many other scientific shows have that as a major focus. Pittcon skews towards the analytical side of laboratory research, so it should bring in a different and novel mix of visitors and exhibitors. Many of the lab instruments and products we write about in our newsletter and our market research reports will be well-represented in the Pittcon exposition hall, and this is always a great opportunity for us to meet with clients and learn about new products and developments.

Food will be one of the easiest things to do well at Pittcon. San Diego’s Gaslamp district is literally across the street from the Convention Center. While the Gaslamp Quarter’s original fame are the clusters of restored historic buildings – this being California, that means some are as much as one hundred years old – the area is now packed with a variety of fun, generally casual, restaurants. By no means have I tried them all, but I have never had a bad experience. If the menu looks appealing, try it. For something more elevated, Lionfish might suit your tastes with its menu of modern coastal cuisine and steaks.

For the ultimate in fine dining, a few miles north at the Grand Golf Club in Del Mar is Addison, Southern California’s only three Michelin star restaurant. Chef William Bradley offers a ten-course tasting menu that favors local ingredients and a California aesthetic.

San Diego is also home to many breweries and interesting craft options will be available everywhere. Just to make one specific recommendation, I’m really partial to Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, but they have plenty of other brews if that doesn’t sound appealing.  Ballast Point also has a spacious restaurant alongside its brewery in Miramar. If you’re planning an off-site event, it would make a good venue. (I should perhaps add the disclaimer that I’m not being compensated for any of these recommendations, but maybe I should be.)

As for what to do in San Diego, there are plenty of options, starting with the beaches. Also on the water is USS Midway, an aircraft carrier converted into a floating museum, with plenty of historic aircraft on the flight deck, and spaces open to the public both above and below deck.

Balboa Park is a sizable area within the city that is home to a number of art, history and technological museums, including the Fleet Science Center, as well as the world famous San Diego Zoo. The zoo’s parent organization also runs the San Diego Zoo Safari Park further out of the city.

Speaking of things further afield, the convention is timed quite well for spring wildflowers in desert areas, such as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Although some recent ‘atmospheric rivers’ have brought plenty of rain to the area, it’s probably wise to check for a recent flower forecast, such as this one, to ensure the flowers are putting on a good display. Without the flowers, the area looks more like the parched surface of the moon. If you’re a geologist (or selenologist) maybe that’s your cup of tea.

Wishing everyone a successful show!