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What's New in San Diego

  • Written by Joe Timko


In September 2016, LEGOLAND® California Resort in San Diego's North County region unveiled plans for new park additions in 2017 and beyond, including an expansion at LEGOLAND® Water Park and a new addition to LEGO® Star Wars™ Miniland.

Opening March 2017, Miniland will include six new displays that represent the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, including the planet Jakku and an enormous LEGO® model of the Star Destroyer Finalizer.

In late spring 2017, SeaWorld San Diego plans to open a new, multi-million dollar attraction that will take park visitors on an exciting ocean expedition highlighting scientific exploration. Ocean Explorer will contain multiple aquariums and rides that utilize state-of-the-art digital technologies that will engage park guests in an experience inspiring them to protect the wonders of our oceans. Guests will travel aboard submarines on a mission to collect data and learn how they can help animals. This three-minute experience will include an onboard digital navigation dashboard, as well as a few other surprises along their journey, enhancing the riders' understanding of the ocean ecosystem.

The heart of Ocean Explorer will be a series of undersea research bases housing specially designed aquariums, known as research pods, and interactive activities displaying unique and elusive ocean animals. Guests can also experience an exhilarating wave swing ride that flies through thousands of real bubbles in chairs suspended from the tentacles of a giant sea jelly. Three additional family friendly rides will round out this immersive, new attraction. Construction on Ocean Explorer began in summer 2016 on a three-acre site on the southeast side of the park located on San Diego's scenic Mission Bay.


Occurring December 2-3, 2016, Balboa Park December Nights celebrates the holiday season as the largest free community festival in San Diego. The event offers foods and crafts from around the world, free musical performances, and free admission into Balboa Park's diverse museums. Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the United States with 17 museums, beautiful gardens, striking architecture and numerous cultural venues.  

Occurring on December 11 and 18, 2016, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is one of the city's most unique and popular holiday events. This colorful holiday tradition features more than 100 private boats decorated with holiday lights, sailing along the waters of picturesque San Diego Bay.

Occurring January 26-29, 2017, the Farmers Insurance Open annual PGA Tour men's tournament hosts golf's biggest stars on the green at the world-famous Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, home of the 2021 U.S. Open. Past winners include Australian Jason Day, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and many other of golf's greatest players.

Occurring throughout the entire month of February 2017 during San Diego Museum Month, visitors can experience San Diego's rich cultural offerings at half-price. Guests can pick up a free San Diego Museum Month Pass at participating Macy's department stores located around the region. With the pass, they can receive half-price admission for up to four guests per visit at more than 40 of San Diego's museums, ranging from exquisite art museums to interactive science centers and historical sites.

During March 9-19, 2017, the San Diego Latino Film Festival showcases acclaimed movies by Latinos or about the Latino experience. Held at the AMC 18 Theaters in the Fashion Valley shopping mall and at the Digital Gym Cinema in San Diego's trendy North Park neighborhood, the festival includes parties, workshops, art exhibitions and the opportunity to mingle with international movie and television stars.


Opening in late 2016 in the center of downtown San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter, the Pendry San Diego is the debut hotel of a new luxury brand from the highly respected Montage Hotels and Resorts. The 12-story Pendry San Diego will offer 317 guest rooms and house three restaurants (Nason's Beer Hall, Lionfish, and Provisional Kitchen, Cafe and Mercantile) and three bars (Oxford Social Club, The Pool House and Fifth & Rose). The hotel's design reflects the casual, sophisticated San Diego lifestyle, with an upscale urban experience in a laid-back beach-inspired setting.


The Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park is currently displaying a fascinating exhibit for visitors of all ages. On display through Jan. 30, 2017, artist Nathan Sawaya transforms countless colorful LEGO pieces into meaningful artistic expressions in The Art of the Brick. Sawaya utilizes precise spatial placement to conceptualize action, creating works of beautiful contemporary art out of one of the most familiar childhood toys.


The Old Globe theater in Balboa Park welcomes the 19th annual production of the internationally recognized holiday fable, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! , by famed author Dr. Seuss, a former resident of San Diego. The play will be performed November 5 – December 26, 2016 at the award-winning Old Globe theater in beautiful Balboa Park.

The San Diego Repertory Theater in downtown San Diego presents provocative works of theater about San Diego as a bi-national region with Mexico. Performing March 30 – April 23, 2017, Into the Beautiful North follows the adventures of 19-year-old Nayeli, who sets out from a small Mexican village on a quest to find the village's men in the United States and smuggle them back across the border to repopulate and protect her beloved town. The play chronicles a 1,000-mile road trip from the Pacific Coast of Mexico through the colorful streets of Tijuana, Mexico to the climactic scene occurring in scenic Mission Bay in San Diego.


In September 2016, Old Town Trolley Tours added a “San Diego City Lights” evening tour that shows off the city at night. With the help of expert guides, visitors can enjoy romantic views of scenic San Diego Bay and experience the vibrant nightlife that San Diego has to offer, watching as the beach city is transformed by buildings, fountains, and statues glowing bright. Guests have the option to end the tour with discounted glass of wine at the Top of the Hyatt, the tallest waterfront hotel on the U.S. west coast.

Epicurean San Diego is the newest San Diego culinary adventure for food-loving visitors. The tour company showcases San Diego's stunning markets of fresh, organic and sustainable foods through van tours direct to local businesses. Guests enjoy a full day of eating, drinking and touring five different locations ranging from local cafes and farms to local wineries and breweries. Tours are an intimate experience of a maximum of 12 people; private and custom tours are also available.


In September 2016, TripAdvisor ranked San Diego's USS Midway Museum as the sixth best museum in the United States, right ahead of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and just behind the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

In October 2016, San Diego breweries took home 18 medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.  San Diego County brewers brought home eight gold medals, three silvers and seven bronze reinforcing San Diego as one of the top beer cities in the United States. One big winner, Karl Strauss Brewing Co won four medals, including gold in the American-Style Sour Ale category with Queen of Tarts, besting the field of 142 entries. The brewery also won gold in the South German-Style Hefeweizen for Windansea Wheat. Karl Strauss was also named Mid-Size Brewpub and Mid-Size Brewpub Brewer of the Year.

Happiness is calling in San Diego.  For more information on San Diego's offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority's website at

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