Presidential Visits to San Diego

Through online information we have learned that quite a few presidents have made their way to America’s Finest City. We highlight some of those presidential visits by both sitting and former presidents who came to town and what they did while they were here.

In 1891, just 41 years after California joined the Union, President Benjamin Harrison became the first sitting president to visit San Diego. Harrison arrived in San Diego early in the morning via a cross-country train and was immediately ferried to the Hotel Del Coronado for breakfast with the Governors of California and Baja California.

In 1915, former Presidents William H. Taft and Theodore Roosevelt visited the Panama California Exposition held at Balboa Park that year.

President Woodrow Wilson (pictured to the left) visited San Diego in 1919, and addressed the largest audience of his career at the Balboa Stadium. Over 50,000 people attended, and at the time San Diego’s population was only approximately 73,000. For his hour long speech, President Wilson used an electric amplifying device, the first time ever for a U.S. President.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt  (pictured to the right) visited San Diego many times, beginning in 1915 as Assistant Secretary to the Navy to attend the Panama California Exposition. President Roosevelt returned to San Diego while in office in  1935 and several more times throughout World War II. Former President Herbert Hoover (pictured to the lower right) also visited San Diego in 1935, attending Balboa Park’s California Pacific International Exposition twice that year.

Former President Herbert Hoover (pictured above) also came to San Diego in 1935. He visited Balboa Park’s California Pacific International  Exposition twice that year. He addressed a crowd praising the event. The expo was held 20 years after the Panama California Exposition in Balboa Park in 1915.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (pictured below) visited San Diego in October of 1960. He landed at Naval Air Station North Island, proceeded via motorcade in a parade through Downtown and then spoke at an event in Chula Vista.

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy (pictured below) visited San Diego. He rode in an open car motorcade along El Cajon Blvd, beginning at Park Blvd and ending at San Diego State College, where he received an honorary degree. Over 250,000 people lined El Cajon Blvd to get a glimpse of the President.



In September, 1970, President Richard Nixon hosted a state dinner for Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz at the Hotel del Coronado. This was the first time a state dinner was ever held outside the White House. Former President Lyndon Johnson, as well as future President Ronald Reagan (Governor of California at the time) were in attendance.

President Gerald Ford visited San Diego while in office in 1975 to attend an economic conference. He continued to regularly visit San Diego after he left office.

President Jimmy Carter visited San Diego while in office in 1979 to attend an AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades convention. The Carters also briefly lived in San Diego in 1950 while President Carter was in the Navy.

President Ronald Reagan visited San Diego many times before his political career and during his terms as Governor of California. Reagan visited San Diego during his presidency in 1982 for talks with Mexican President-Elect Miguel de la Madrid.

In July of 1992 President George H.W. Bush visited San Diego and attended the 1992 All-Star Baseball Game at Jack Murphy Stadium (now Qualcomm).

In 1997 President Bill Clinton visited San Diego to give the commencement address at UC San Diego. That day he also visited the Birch Aquarium where he hosted a luncheon, gave a press conference, and took a nap on a now infamous couch.

President George W. Bush visited San Diego in 2005 for the 60th Anniversary celebration of V-J Day at Naval Air Station North Island.

In 2011, President Obama visited San Diego for the first time as President to attend the Carrier Classic. The basketball game was held on Veterans Day and was played on the desk of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. Most recently President Obama visited San Diego in October of 2016 and golfed at the Torrey Pines Golf Course.

President Trump has yet to make a trip to San Diego, although he has only been in office less than a month.



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