Black and white picture of san diego famous beers tourism

Five Reasons Why San Diego Should Be Higher on the Beer Tourism Index

Travelocity’s Beer Tourism Index

Recently there was a bunch of press about the new Beer Tourism Index put out by Travelocity and the Brewers Association. This is a brand new metric that scored cities on things like the number of breweries per capita, ride-share options, the proximity of international airports offering direct flights, and the cost of lodging.

Surprisingly, San Diego sits at the #8 spot, sandwiched in between Spokane, Washington, and Madison, Wisconsin.

travelocity's beer tourism index

Here’s the thing, we don’t need San Diego to be number one on this list (though a good argument can be made for the top spot), we just think San Diego deserves to be a little higher on this index. We can get behind the high spots for Portland, Denver, and Seattle, but Spokane, Washington is a better beer place to visit than San Diego?

If you look at the above index it seems that the breweries-per-capita is the number that pushing these cities up the list the most. Number 3, Seattle gets a paltry 3 for lodging (so either it’s very expensive or there just isn’t much of it?), yet the fact that they have a high breweries per-capita moved them up the list. Also, why on earth does San Diego get a 55 for its airport? San Diego’s central airport is awesome and right in the middle of so much. To see that Seattle gets a 99 on their Air Score, for an airport out in the middle of nowhere, makes one wonder. Maybe all of their breweries are situated near the airport out in the middle of nowhere?

Screw it, Travelocity’s index sucks. It doesn’t give you a clear picture of what you are getting by choosing a higher ranked beer destination and misses out on the truly cool things that many of these beer destinations have to offer. Here are five reasons why San Diego is one of the top spots for beer tourism…at least top three!

High-Quality Beer

Karl Strauss at GABF 2016

Portland may have more breweries per capita (San Diego’s population is huge so we will never win this one), but we did some math as to medals won at this year’s GABF where San Diego took home more medals than any other city. Yes, we also have 130+ breweries to Portland’s 92, but when the numbers are run, 13% of San Diego breweries won medals compared to 10.8% of Portland breweries. So San Diego’s beer is more award winning than the number one spot, per capita. Plus, why should travelers care about the population density vs. number of breweries? The more breweries the better, and if they happen to be better breweries based on medals in world renowned beer competitions, than so be it.


a big sign in the middle of the road that says "north park"

This is where San Diego wins big. Yes, there are lots of breweries to walk to in Denver and Portland, but do they have a 1-mile corridor NOT set in a business park where people can walk to numerous breweries/tasting rooms along with fabulous food options in a hip and inviting neighborhood? Nope! North Park kills it for walkability, craft beer and food. If you want to hop in a car, you can always hit up the cluster of breweries off of Miramar as well as head up North to the land of Mother Earth and Stone Brewing. But for sheer walkability to the number of craft beer tasting rooms/breweries, North Park is where it’s at.



Weather is another bright spot for San Diego. None of the other cities come close to our beautiful, 70-and-sunny weather. Yes, Denver is pretty and has the full range of seasons, but there are some cold-ass months in there too. Portland rains more than half of the year, and Seattle is the rainiest city in the country. In San Diego, you can come any time of the year and walk around our beautiful city with little more than a hoodie. The balmy weather also means most of our breweries and tasting rooms make use of outdoor seating where (bonus!) you can often bring your pup as a drinking companion.

West Coast IPA


We are the birthplace of the West Coast IPA, which for many is the best IPA available, anywhere. Sure, Vermont is doing some cool things with their hazy, dank, IPAs but when most people in the U.S. want a crisp, hoppy IPA, it’s a west-coast style that they are reaching for. Why not visit the breweries that are responsible for introducing and cultivating this incredibly popular style? Ale Smith, Stone, Green Flash, Coronado Brewing and Alpine are just a few of the breweries that have helped to shape the West Coast IPA and all are must-stop spots for San Diego beer tourism.

Fish Tacos


Ok, this last one might be a stretch, but one thing that was striking about the list of Best Cities for Beer Tourism was that they lack the cultural diversity of San Diego. When you look at the demographic breakdowns at of the top spots on this list they all beat San Diego in the percentage of white people who live there. While San Diego is 46% white, Portland is 72% white, Seattle is 66% and Denver brings up the rear at 53%.

Of course, we aren’t saying that these spots (especially Portland which is renowned for its farm-to-table cuisine and eclectic food stalls) don’t have great food. They don’t, however, have our Baja stand-by, fish tacos! We easily have the best Mexican food north of the border, whether it be the savory, al pastor street tacos, crispy fish tacos, the delicious bastardization that is a California Burrito or the freshest ceviche served 5 different ways. The best part is most of this delicious food is cheap and readily available to any hungry traveler looking to get a good base for a day of craft beer drinking.

So there you have it…five reasons why San Diego should be higher up on this list that probably no-one will ever really use to travel anywhere. But if they do, they should know, San Diego is a better beer destination than Spokane. 😉

One response to “Five Reasons Why San Diego Should Be Higher on the Beer Tourism Index”

  1. You make some very valid points. I think they everyone is just plain jealous of San Diego…in general, an especially of our beer. But being listed as #8 is straight up blasphemy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *