What’s New in San Diego, Spring 2023

What’s New in San Diego, Spring 2023

Discover new attractions, exciting events, museums and restaurants this spring

Attractions and Events

The 33rd San Diego International Jewish Film Festival returns to the David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre in La Jolla from February 15 – 26, showcasing 35 of the best contemporary Jewish-related films. This festival is known to be one of the country’s most prestigious Jewish film festivals.

Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience, a new exhibition created in partnership with the National Geographic Society, will bring the magic and mystery of Ancient Egypt to the San Diego area, opening at the Wyland Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds for a limited-run from January 27 – March 26. With nine galleries to explore, the exhibit unlocks the 3,300-year-old story of King Tut – his rule as a child pharaoh, his family, the discovery of his tomb and the mysteries surrounding his early death, and his journey to the afterlife.

SeaWorld San Diego is bringing back international flavors, beverage tastings and live music performances with the return of Southern California’s fan favorite Seven Seas Food Festival on select dates March 3 – April 30. In addition to hundreds of tasty bites and drinks, guests can enjoy live music and their favorite animal exhibits, including dolphins, sea lions, bat rays, flamingos, sea otters, and more.

SeaWorld San Diego’s highly anticipated coaster, Arctic Rescue, is set to open this spring. This family-friendly multi-launch ride will invite guests to hop on a snowmobile and launch at up to 40 mph on a chilly adventure as they race through the unpredictable arctic climate to help animals in danger. The coaster will be the longest and fastest straddle coaster on the West Coast.

LEGOLAND® California Resort’s newest addition to Miniland U.S.A.: San Diego will be unveiled this spring. The world’s first LEGO version of San Diego will feature famous scenes, settings, and themes that make up the city’s DNA. Master Model Builders will draw inspiration from such areas as the Gaslamp District, Coronado, Del Mar, and San Diego’s incredible coastline. The section will join New York, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, and San Francisco, all located in Miniland U.S.A, at the heart of the park.

Gator By The Bay-Zydeco, Blues & Crawfish Festival is returning to San Diego Bay May 11 – 14. The Mardi Gras-themed music and food festival will feature 100+ live musical acts & performances on seven stages, wooden dance floors, shade, green grass, and plenty of fun for the kids. Gator By The Bay’s French Quarter Food Court will serve authentic Cajun, Creole, and Southern culinary delights, including gumbo, jambalaya, beignets, and 10,000 pounds of crawfish from Louisiana.

New Hotels & Renovations

Last autumn, a thorough renovation was completed on the Kimpton Hotel Palomar, and it has since been renamed — Kimpton Alma San Diego. The 211-room hotel renovation includes a refresh of all guestrooms and suites, a more inviting pool area, and updated meeting spaces. The new interiors are inspired by San Diego’s proximity to Mexico, with custom street art on its pool deck and murals from local artists. The hotel also ensures that guests can focus on wellness during their stay with in-room yoga mats and Japanese tea sets available in each room. The hotel’s new signature restaurant, The Desmond is a dinner-only space led by executive chef Jason Neroni, one of America’s top chef-restaurateurs. The restaurant’s menu celebrates the peerless ingredients of southern California, where technology is used to honor, rather than disguise, distinguishing flavors and textures.

The Guild Hotel, a landmark in San Diego’s downtown, has partnered with Be Saha Hospitality Group too – lead the food and beverage operations at the hotel. Be Saha Hospitality will open a new concept in the hotel’s courtyard (formerly Luca) this spring and will also reimagine the Guild Bar, garden and lounge, as well as handle all onsite events and room service. The Hospitality Group has brought on renowned Tijuana, Mexico chef Ruffo Ibarra and culinary director Janina Garay to spearhead the project.

This spring Palihotel San Diego will reimagine the historic St. James Hotel, originally built in 1912, as a vibrant and bustling mainstay. Located in the heart of the Gaslamp District and featuring 122 guest rooms and rooftop space, Palihotel San Diego will bring a youthful design to San Diego’s hotel landscape. Each guest room will blend Palisociety’s signature California quirky sensibility with nautical-inspired charm. The hotel will also feature Saint James French Diner, an all-day dining room that will blend the approachable nature of an American diner with the subtle elegance of a French bistro.

C.H. Projects, known for creating some of San Diego’s most interesting restaurants and bars, is expanding its hospitality microcosm by entirely reimagining the historic Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club in North Park, San Diego’s hip neighborhood. The entire property will be re-conceived through the CH lens, attempting to create an all-encompassing immersive oasis in the heart of North Park. Slated for an opening in June 2023, the hotel will include 141 redesigned guestrooms, lobby space and pool, three new restaurants, two additional dining and drinking outlets, a vintage bowling alley, a cocktail bar, a game room, and an all-new pool bar.

Arts and Culture

The Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center  opened in Barrio Logan in October, with the inaugural exhibition being the premiere of a collective historical narrative of Chicano Park and Logan Heights titled “PILLARS: Stories Of Resilience And Self-Determination.”

Caught on Camera: Wildlife When No One’s Watching opened at the San Diego Natural History Museum on November 18,  in the museum’s top-floor photography gallery. The show features remarkable images of southern California wildlife “caught” on film with the help of camera traps set up by scientists, photographers, and other curious people. Visitors will see squirrels mid-leap, bobcats in backyards, and native species they may have never heard of.

WNDR Museum opened in downtown San Diego in January featuring more than 20 exhibits. The museum is an unparalleled immersive art and technology experience that redefines the traditional museum experience. WNDR invites the San Diego community to fully engage with local and international artists, collectives, technologists, designers, and makers.

Mingei International Museum will open 25 Million Stitches: One Stitch, One Refugee from March 25 through October 15. The exhibition raises awareness of the unfathomable number of refugees displaced around the world by counting and acknowledging each displaced person with a hand-sewn stitch. In the show, over 2,000 panels are combined vertically to create 408 floor-to-ceiling flags. These flags will be suspended from the ceiling, allowing visitors to walk through and around the installation, being both an immersive and emotional experience.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) Downtown will develop a multi-disciplinary arts hub this year to nurture the visual and performing arts of the region. MCASD Downtown will welcome people to artistic performances, exhibitions, events, and experiences following a flexible schedule. The campus will also participate in partnerships and collaborations with The La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls (WOW) Festival and Optika Moderna; the World Design Capital 2024, San Diego and Tijuana; and Blindspot Collective with DISCO RIOT.

New Venues

Scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, Horton Campus will transform from a shopping mall to a grand, wide-open development with inviting parks, retail shops, and office, and lab space. The renovated campus is projected to have 683,000 square feet of office and life science space and 264,000 square feet of retail space. For visitors, there will be 50-60 stores, a grocery store, and a gym.

Restaurants, Breweries and Bars

Cali Breakfast opened in downtown San Diego’s Cortez Hill in November, serving breakfast dishes made from fresh local produce with a Latin twist. The menu combines breakfast and brunch options including breakfast tacos, avocado toast, and sweets, and also offers a doggie-friendly selection. Cali Breakfast partnered with some of the local charities in the area and will be donating a percentage of its earnings to children with disabilities.

Al Dente, University Heights’ newest Italian dining destination, opened in December, specializing in offering traditional Italian recipes with a modern twist. From the team that brought San Diego Rusticucina and the newly-opened Zama in the Gaslamp, Al Dente promises to be both rich in Italian history and robust with innovative flavor combinations. The restaurant’s unique offerings will include specialties using wild game meat and classic homemade pasta made in-house.

Opened in December in the Convoy District, Diego’s Pan-Asia business district, Take the Bait Seafood Bar is a new restaurant offering a diverse menu of locally caught seafood, salads, and flatbreads. Signature menu items include whole octopus, seafood towers, seafood boils for two, a raw bar, a tropical fish & chips dish, and seafood-topped flatbreads.

Newly Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded Heritage Brewery & Barbecue opened its second location in Oceanside in January. Heritage serves traditional classics, including the Texas Trinity of smoked brisket, homemade sausage, and ribs, as well as Chef Daniel Castillo’s creative departures like the popular brisket banh mi and the pastrami torta.

The hospitality group ELE Collective, behind popular North Park bar Park & Rec, will open a globally inspired restaurant and bar in the former Johnston’s Variety Department Store, a five-and-dime store that opened in 1924. Named Johnston’s, the 3,500-square-foot space will take inspiration from Mission Cliff Gardens, a neighborhood botanical park that closed in 1929. The menu will feature buttermilk fried chicken, confit garlic hummus with homemade za’atar and yakitori grilled meat, and vegetarian skewers.

Early this year, Longfellow Real Estate, a developer of life science buildings, and celebrity chef Richard Blais are teaming up to open a Europe meets SoCal eatery dubbed California English. Located in Longfellow’s Biovista campus in Sorrento Mesa, the restaurant will serve an all-day menu of American and Great Britain dishes.

The founding chef behind La Doña restaurant in Ocean Beach has partnered with San Diego’s Cohn Restaurant Group to convert Bo-beau Kitchen + Garden in La Mesa into Casa Gabriela, an authentic Mexican eatery and cocktail bar. Now open, Casa Gabriela offers a menu of authentic Mexican dishes, made using passed-down recipes from Chef Gaby’s family.

The Gaslamplighter, a karaoke and cocktail bar that’s due to land in the Gaslamp neighborhood this year, will feature a list of classic and contemporary cocktails as well as a menu of bar bites and shareable plates. The bar will host karaoke on its main stage on Tuesday through Sunday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. There will also be occasional live music programming, a mix of local acoustic artists, and nationally known names.

Seaport Village, San Diego’s harbor-side hub, will be home to several new dining options as part of the Port of San Diego’s ongoing revitalization. The restaurants being added include L.A. restaurant chain Gladstone’sCork & Batter, a baseball-themed restaurant and sports bar, Zytoun, featuring authentic Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, and Old Harbor Distilling Co.’s first satellite tasting room.

Opening in February in Banker’s Hill, steps from Balboa Park, Kinme Omakase will be an immersive sushi experience that tells a story of Japan’s bountiful culinary history. With just ten seats and only two seatings per night, Kinme’s monthly tasting menu will focus on executing a course-by-course experience inspired by Kaiseki and Edomae-style Japanese omakase restaurants. Centered around expressing the flavors of the season, dishes will utilize seasonal ingredients and premium fish selections directly from the world-renowned Toyosu fish market in Tokyo, as well as purveyors from San Diego and Ensenada in Mexico.

Set to reopen in March under new ownership, El Dorado, a cocktail lounge that was formative in establishing San Diego’s craft cocktail scene, will feature a more classic cocktail menu deeply rooted in playful riffs and modern spins. To bring consistently great drinks year-round, El Dorado will offer a timeless cocktail experience that is a comfortable contrast between being highbrow and lowbrow, making it a go-to spot for regulars any night of the week.

This summer, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and founding Jeune et Jolie chef, Eric Bost, will launch their gourmet chicken sandwich shop, Chick N’ Hawk, in Encinitas. The restaurant will serve chicken items, fresh seafood, and cocktails.

San Diego celebrity chef Brian Malarkey and business partner Chris Puffer have taken over Herringbone in La Jolla. The Puffer-Malarkey Collective will transform their former haunt into Le Coq, a French-inspired steakhouse slated to open at the end of 2023. While the concept is still very much in development, the restaurant will transport diners to Paris in the 1920s with a menu of globally-inspired fusion dishes and dry-aged meats.

Bivouac Ciderworks will debut a new concept in the fall, directly adjacent to its North Park tap room and an urban production facility. The Bivouac Adventure Lodge will feature generous communal seating, a members-only private tasting club, and an in-house general store featuring local, chef-driven pantry goods for build-your-own charcuterie boards and other provisions for purchase, including outdoor gear, apparel, gifts, and more.

Awards and Recognitions

In December Addison earned its third Michelin star, becoming San Diego’s first 3-star Michelin restaurant. The Michelin inspector’s comments highlight the chef’s “Californian sentimentality,” especially in his sesame-seasoned Koshihikari rice with applewood-smoked sabayon and Regiis Ova reserve caviar. Addison, located in San Diego’s Fairmont Grand Del Mar, is now only one of 142 three-star restaurants in the world.

The Comic-Con Museum was named a winner in the Geeks category of TripSavvy’s 2022 Editors’ Choice Awards. The Geeks category highlights weird and wonderful attractions that will appeal to those who like getting a little off the beaten path.


San Diego International Airport (SAN) achieved the highest level of certification under the Airports Council International’s Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) program – Level 4+ ‘Transition.’ The airport achieved this certification through a series of programs that have increased the use of carbon-free electricity and all-electric vehicles, facilitated carbon-emission reductions by airline and rideshare partners, and enabled carbon-offset purchases by our passengers, among other efforts. SAN is one of only three North American airports to achieve Level 4+ ‘Transition’ certification and the only airport in California to reach the milestone.