What’s new in San Diego

Thursday 02nd Sep 2021 |

With 70 miles of spectacular coastline, an abundance of outdoor adventure in natural surroundings, and near perfect year-round sunshine, San Diego has earned the name California’s beach city.  

This month the San Diego Zoo unveiled two brand new opportunities for guests to experience the wonders of wildlife. The Kenneth C. Griffin Komodo Kingdom and the William E. Cole Family Hummingbird Habitat are brand new exhibits where guests can interact with some of the most powerful and delicate species on earth. Komodo Kingdom offers visitors the chance to see giant lizards up close and learn more about the species and the immersive, infinity-loop-shaped Hummingbird Habitat will offer endless flight opportunities to several species of hummingbirds, as well as other rare birds from their native regions in North and South America. The habitat will feature streams, cascading water, orchids, and other plants reflecting the diversity and beauty of the birds’ native regions.

Offering pristine views of the city skyline, waterfront and marina, the Embarcadero Marina Park South will welcome a new bayside concert venue this year giving the San Diego Symphony a permanent new home. The Shell will feature an innovative and architecturally striking outdoor stage that allows the symphony to showcase a wider variety of musical presentations and enrich the visitors’ concert experience. The Shell will also become the new home of the symphony’s popular annual Summer Pops series with this year’s intended lineup to include The Beach Boys, Jennifer Hudson and Sergio Mendes. 

Following a $52million renovation, the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park is expected to reopen this summer. Transforming the museum with a new level to the community gathering space and a new garden courtyard, the project will also feature a new education centre and spacious galleries devoted to new exhibitions with a library. Several spaces have also been restored including the historic Bell Tower with a grand new staircase and the museum’s upper terraces, which will be opened to the public for the first time in decades, offering views of the Plaza de Panama, El Prado and California Tower. A multipurpose theater space for performances, lectures and concerts is also planned.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in La Jolla is predicted to reopen this autumn after completing a major expansion project. Since 1941, MCASD has evolved into an iconic San Diego cultural institution and internationally renowned visual arts organisation. The expansion will almost double the building’s size to over 100,000 sq.ft, allowing for the dedicated display of MCASD’s celebrated permanent collection of more than 4,700 objects. The expansion’s design includes floor to ceiling vertical windows across two levels allowing the site’s distinct natural light to floor the galleries and offering spectacular coastal views into the museum. 

Following a $400m multi-year, multi-phase renovation, Hotel Del Coronado is on track to complete concepts of The Del’s Master Plan. The plan pays tribute to the hotel’s history, investing in restoring and preserving its industrial buildings (dating back to the 1880s) and re-creating the experience of the hotel’s original front porch which will incorporate a grand view to the hotel’s iconic turret along with a new porte cochere and central fountain.. The concepts include the launch of The Views, previously known as Ocean Towers, an outpost for active guests, located close to the beach; the updated Windsor Lawn with new turf, trees, landscaping, lighting,  and power, and a complete restructuring of the Paseo Lawns into one larger space with beach access for a more functional event space. Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott San Diego Pacific Beach also opened this month with 105 guestrooms. Conveniently located near Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, Mission Beach, Old Town San Diego and Seaport Village, visitors can explore all the wonderful areas and sites San Diego has to offer and that also include the whale watching San Diego.

What you missed in 2020…


The San Diego Zoo Safari Park launched the Sun Up Cheetah Safari, an exclusive private tour for up to four people, including brunch and an exciting Cheetah Run experience. Starting with a guided introduction to the park’s wildlife, the tour provides a rare opportunity to see a cheetah run at top speed, followed by brunch with one of the best views of the park. Tours run from Friday – Sunday before the park opens.


In 2020, The Legacy Resort Hotel & Spa opened in Mission Valley bringing a new luxury hotel and conference centre with unique attractions to the area. Featuring 126 guest rooms, a variety of internationally inspired spa treatments, a 500-seat theatre, pool and two restaurants including Theresa’s Restaurant serving Italian steakhouse cuisine, guests can also visit the Legacy Centre to enjoy unique exhibits and attractions. Highlights include a 100-foot long, 16-foot tall Western Wall that pays tribute to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and a giant, interactive globe that transports guests to different nations of the world providing insight into the region, its people and culture. 

The Town and Country San Diego in Mission Valley completed a $90 million renovation incorporating its rich 50-year history with a fresh mid-century feel. The near new property, which opened in August 2020, includes 675 renovated guest rooms and suites, three stylish new restaurants and a new 10,000-square-foot pool complex with a four-story, looping 150-foot water slide – the longest hotel waterslide in San Diego County. The signature ARLO restaurant celebrates San Diego’s Cali-Baja culinary culture with fresh local ingredients and regional flavours from both sides of the border. 

New Japanese-inspired Michelin-star restaurants open downtown 

In downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, modern Japanese restaurant Lumi by Akira Back opened last summer. The restaurant’s unique rooftop combines traditional Japanese architecture with modern design elements with nightly live DJ sets. Headed up by Michelin-starred chef, Akira Back, Lumi offers modern Japanese cuisine with Nikkei and Korean influences. Menu highlights include shared plates such as rock shrimp tempura with spicy aioli and cabbage slaw, as well as the “Akira Back Pizza” topped with tuna, yellowtail, serrano, red onion, beetroot, tomato, micro cilantro and ponzu mayo. 

Huntress – the latest high-profile restaurant to open in the Gaslamp Quarter – also opened in July 2020. Under the helm of Executive Chef James Montejano, who worked at the Michelin-starred restaurant Michael Mina, Huntress is a contemporary steakhouse serving the finest meats, seafood dishes and other signature classics. A framed butcher knife set and a spectacular marble bar dominate the first floor with a Japanese whiskey bar serving the largest selections of whiskey in the US can be found on the mezzanine, along with an intimate wine tasting area. 

For the most up to date information on San Diego and how to explore safely, visit sandiego.org

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