The top openings and happenings
When it comes to amazing places to see and things to do, San Diego brims with so many riches that it might seem impossible to squeeze in another two or three — much less 23. But while our beaches and boardwalks and balmy weather remain as alluring as ever, the new year is ushering in all kinds of exciting new happenings and openings here — from roller coasters to restaurants to amazing recreation options. Check out our list and see why San Diego will be more of a must-visit destination than ever in 2023.
ATTRACTIONS AND SIGNATURE SITES
1. THRILLS AND (ARCTIC) CHILLS ON NEW SEAWORLD COASTER
Hold onto your hat — or better yet, your handlebars. SeaWorld is gearing up to launch what it calls the fastest and longest “straddle coaster” on the West Coast: the Arctic Rescue. You’ll ride this one snowmobile-style at speeds of up to 40 mph on more than a half-mile of track, in a quest to defeat poachers on the wild tundra. Arctic Rescue will be SeaWorld’s second big coaster to debut in two years, following the 2022 opening of the Emperor.
2. LEGOLAND’S ODE TO SAN DIEGO
America’s Brightest City is about to become the biggest little metropolis on the block, as LEGOLAND California unveils the world’s first Lego-constructed City of San Diego, coming this spring to the Carlsbad theme park’s Miniland U.S.A.
3. HORTON PLAZA REIMAGINED
What was once something like the theme park of urban shopping centers will reopen this coming year in a vastly different guise: As an ambitious, multipurpose tech, retail, entertainment and residential hub. The new Horton Plaza is expected to have 50-60 shops (including a grocery store) as well as flexible office and research space, event venues, even a gym.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT IN THE SPOTLIGHT
4. UCSD DEBUTS AN AMPHITHEATER
With seating for more than 2,600 people, the new Epstein Family Amphitheater near the University of California San Diego’s front entrance expands the city’s already bountiful options for live performance. What’s more, the versatile amphitheater is just steps away from a San Diego Trolley station that serves the UCSD Blue Line extension, opened in 2022.
5. THE SOUND TUNES UP IN DEL MAR
Just a quick gallop away from the grandstand at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds is this new, 1,900-capacity concert venue. The Sound opens in February 2023 with Ziggy Marley as the first act and will be operated by the same folks who book the fabled Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.
6. SYMPHONY RE-ENVISIONS A VENERABLE GEM
A cornerstone of San Diego’s arts and culture community, the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center — the San Diego Symphony‘s historic indoor performance home — is set to reopen in Fall 2023 after a $125 million renovation. The Downtown center’s 1929-vintage Copley Symphony Hall has been outfitted with state-of-the-art digital sound and lighting, and can seat up to 1,750.
MUSEUMS AND MORE
7. A LONG-SOUGHT MUSEUM IN CHICANO PARK
After six years of planning, the Chicano Park Museum in San Diego’s historic Barrio Logan is open in time for the new year. The museum celebrates the beloved neighborhood park, its famous murals and all the artists who have made it such a vibrant place; it also will serve as a community center.
8. THE NAT’S SURPRISING SNAPS
The wilder side of San Diego is on display in a new exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum (aka The Nat) in Balboa Park. Called “Caught on Camera,” the exhibit showcases photos of local wildlife as captured by “camera traps” — heat- or motion-triggered devices that snap images of animals who happen by. It’s an eye-opening glimpse into the life all around us.
9. HOPS AND HISTORY AT CRAFT-BEER EXHIBITION
San Diego is the Capital of Craft Beer, so it only makes sense that a museum exhibition would be devoted to the art of local brewing. That’s what the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park is offering with “Taste San Diego: Craft Community and Culture,” which takes visitors through the region’s illustrious craft-beer history. And yes, tastings are included, courtesy of Little Miss Brewing.
10. PLANT YOURSELF AT THE BOTANICAL BUILDING
One of the largest wood-lath structures in the world, Balboa Park’s Botanical Building — the dome-topped structure that rises behind the park’s iconic Lily Pond — is part of the park’s earliest history, dating all the way to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It is set to reopen in late 2023 after a $21 million renovation, and will once again showcase rare collections of orchids, tropical plants, palms and more.
RESTAURANT SCENE HEATING UP
11. MICHELIN-CERTIFIED MAGNIFICENCE
Some of the best dining on the planet is waiting for you in San Diego, and here’s proof: the city now has four restaurants with coveted Michelin stars. And one of them, Addison at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego’s Carmel Valley, has earned the ultimate global dining honor of three Michelin stars. That makes Addison one of only a half-dozen restaurants in the state to boast the distinction, and the only one in Southern California. When you factor in San Diego’s numerous other culinary honors, it’s clear why serious eaters need to make their way here.
12. LOUNGE IN LUXURY AT THE MARINE ROOM
A La Jolla landmark for more than 80 years, the Marine Room already had plenty to recommend it, from its beautiful perch beside the surf (and sometimes IN the surf, depending on the tide) to its tradition of delicious food in elegant surroundings. But now the place has managed to up its game with The Lounge, a luxury dining experience that combines oceanfront views with curated cocktails, a specially devised menu and more.
13. MISTER A’S SERVES UP STYLE ONCE AGAIN
Restaurants don’t get much more San Diego than Mister A’s, the nearly 60-year-old fine-dining institution perched atop a high-rise in Bankers Hill. Now the restaurant has reopened after a $2 million re-envisioning under new owner Ryan Thorsen, with a more modern look and attitude but the same breathtaking 180-degree views of the city.
14. GET YOUR MUNCHIES ON IN P.B.
The necessity for outdoor food service may have eased with time, but the joys of alfresco dining still abide — and that’s the sweet spot for Munchies Food Club, a new open-air food hall and garden in Pacific Beach that serves up bites and beverages from multiple local sources. The dining collective is the brainchild of Good Time Design, which also runs San Diego’s The Blind Burro and Moonshine Flats.
15. DEATH BY TEQUILA RESURRECTING NORTH PARK SITE
Good things come in threes for the tequila-centric bar and restaurant concept with the seriously tongue-in-cheek name: The Encinitas-based outfit behind Death by Tequila is set to open its third San Diego-area location, this one in North Park. And it’s a big one: The company is transforming a 5,400-square-foot former retail space into a 175-seat restaurant serving modern Mexican cuisine, plus a 75-seat bar.
16. LAFAYETTE’S NEW LEASE ON LIFE
There’s a whole lot of history to North Park’s Lafayette Hotel, from serving as a movie-star hangout in the 1940s to gaining fame as a “Top Gun” filming location in the ‘80s. Now the elegantly retro boutique hotel is set to reopen after a $26 million makeover courtesy of San Diego’s high-profile Consortium Holdings. Look for a raft of new bars and restaurants, a live-music venue, even a throwback bowling alley.
17. MARVEL AT THE MARRIOTT MARQUIS
A signature presence on San Diego’s sparkling Embarcadero, the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina hotel is now showing off the latest phase of a property-wide, multimillion-dollar renovation. Upgrades include a trio of refreshed presidential suites as well as remodeling of the lobby, ballrooms and multiple restaurants.
18. LUXURIOUS SEASIDE STAYS AT HOTEL DEL’S NEW “VILLAGE”
One of the world’s most renowned and recognizable hotels, the Hotel del Coronado, has added a sumptuous new lodging option: the Shore House. This just-opened oceanfront mini-village features 75 luxurious residential-style spaces, each with up to three bedrooms. It’s one of five “neighborhoods” at the celebrated hotel, which first opened in 1888.
19. A REMADE KIMPTON FOR DOWNTOWN
What was once the Hotel Palomar is now the sleek Kimpton Alma San Diego, after a $25 million, top-to-bottom remake of this property at the northern gateway to the Gaslamp Quarter. The remodel took its cues from San Diego’s identity as a border city, and includes three new dining options as well as a remake of the lobby, a fresh focus on wellness and brand-new looks for every room and suite in the house.
PARKS AND REC
20. SNAPDRAGON STADIUM IN FULL BLOOM
The new, 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium had its much-anticipated opening in Fall 2021 on the site of the old Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley. But the versatile venue has more “firsts” in store for 2023, including the first full season at Snapdragon by the San Diego Wave, the National Women’s Soccer League expansion team that made the playoffs in its very first year. The San Diego Legion professional rugby team also will play for the first time at Snapdragon, and the stadium is set to host multiple concerts and other special events in the coming year.
21. MISSION BAY IS THE PLACE FOR PLAY
Already a prime spot for aquatic fun, Mission Bay Park now boasts a brand-new playground, Tecolote Shores North, along the bay’s east side. And coming soon is the $4.1 million Tecolote Shores South, which will include kid-friendly zip lines, musical elements, new picnic areas and much more.
22. A BASKETBALL LEGEND HOLDS COURT
A set of new basketball courts might not sound like a momentous development — but it helps that the smartly remade courts at South Mission Beach have the imprimatur of San Diegan and basketball legend Bill Walton, who helped the project come to fruition and was on hand for the official ribbon-cutting. The eye-catching hoops HQ includes commissioned artwork and colorful, weather-resistant surfaces. And with the beach boardwalk and the blue Pacific just steps away, what’s not to love about dunking right at the oceanfront?
23. TOPGOLF POISED TO TEE OFF
San Diego may soon see not one but two Topgolf centers — the popular venues that combine a modern take on a driving range with food, drink and fun family activities. Owned by Carlsbad-based Callaway, Topgolf plans to develop a trilevel, 80-bay facility in Sorrento Valley on the site of the Carroll Canyon Golf Center, and another, potentially 100-bay center on East Harbor Island.
“23 New Things to Do and See in San Diego for 2023”, San Diego, SanDiego.org.