Skip visiting San Diego and San Francisco on these convention dates

People descend on three packed escalators July 19 at the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con.
Comic-Con International Convention fans July 19 at the San Diego Convention Center.
(Howard Lipin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
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Yes, San Diego and San Francisco are great destinations, especially for Californians sneaking away for a weekend. But are you sure you want to commit to that July 23 jaunt to San Diego? That Feb. 24 flight to San Francisco?

Check these convention dates first. Both cities are prime meeting destinations, rated in the top ten in’s 2019 ranking of large convention cities. (Los Angeles? Didn’t make the cut.)

These events aren’t necessarily deal-breakers. But as you’d expect during their biggest gatherings, hotel rates go up, availability goes down, and popular restaurants get busier near convention facilities. In cities where the average hotel room fetches anywhere from $169 (estimate for San Diego in 2019) to $219 (San Francisco in June), those numbers are worth watching.


The 800-pound gorilla among all these events, expected to draw 135,000 visitors, is Comic-Con’s annual summer appearance in downtown San Diego. But many other events brings crowds of 15,000 or more. Most are scheduled mid-week, which reduces impact on leisure travelers. But some do cover weekends.

Here, compiled from those cities’ tourism agencies, is a list of San Diego’s and San Francisco’s biggest conferences and conventions in the year ahead, with expected attendance.

In San Diego:

(All dates are in 2020)

Jan. 18-19 (Saturday and Sunday): San Diego Travel & Adventure Show, 15,000 people.

March 10-12 (Tuesday to Thursday): Optical Fiber Communication Conference & Expo, 15,500.

April 4-7 (Saturday to Tuesday): Experimental Biology, 15,000.

April 26 -28 (Sunday to Tuesday): American Assn. for Cancer Research, 23,000.

May 29-30 (Friday and Saturday, with half-marathon Sunday): Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Expo, 40,000.

June 9-11 (Tuesday to Thursday): Private Convention With Trade Show, 17,000.

June 28-July 1 (Sunday to Wednesday): Society for Human Resources Management, 24,000.

July 13-16 (Monday to Thursday): Esri International User Conference, 18,000.

July 23-26 (Thursday to Sunday): Comic-Con International San Diego, 135,000.

Sept. 25-27 (Friday and Saturday): Private Convention with Trade Show, 25,000.

In San Francisco:

Some visit San Francisco’s North Beach because it tastes like Italy, and some visit because it howls like the Beat Generation. But the times, they are a-changing.

Sept. 14, 2019

(2019 and 2020 dates)

Nov. 8-11 (Friday to Monday): National Assn. of Realtors, 25,000 people.

Nov. 19-22 (Tuesday to Friday):, Inc./Dreamforce 2019, 60,000.

Dec. 9-13 (Monday to Friday): American Geophysical Union, 26,000.

Feb. 4-6 (Tuesday to Thursday): SPIE / Photonics West, 20,000.

Feb. 24-28 (Monday to Friday): RSA Conference, 42,000.

March 16-20 (Monday to Friday): UBM LLC / Game Developers Conference, 28,000.

April 17-21 (Friday to Tuesday): American Educational Research Assn., 15,500.

May 4-7 (Monday to Thursday): IBM Global Travel Procurement, 25,000.

July 6-10 (Monday to Friday, with Oakland): International AIDS Society, 25,000.

July 21-23 (Tuesday to Thursday: SEMI / SEMICON West, 20,000.

Aug. 16-20 (Sunday to Thursday): American Chemical Society, 18,000.

Aug. 31-Sept. 3 (Monday to Thursday): VMWare / Vmworld 2020, 20,000.

Sept 22-24 (Tuesday to Thursday): Workday Rising, 8,600.

Oct. 4-8 (Sunday to Thursday): Oracle Corp./ OpenWorld 2020, 60,000.

Oct. 25-28 (Sunday to Wednesday): American Public Health Assn., 14,000.

Dec. 7-11 (Monday to Friday): American Geophysical Union, 28,000.

Sources: San Diego Tourism Authority, San Francisco Travel Assn.