What’s New in San Diego: Spring 2019

Family Adventure in Vanuatu 2019
February 14, 2019
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March 4, 2019

Major Attractions

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is launching a new permanent exhibition that brings seadragon conservation to the forefront. Slated to open in May 2019, the exhibition, which has yet to be named, will be home to weedy and leafy seadragons as well as several species of seahorses and pipefish.

Birch Aquarium

The centerpiece of the exhibition will be one of the most expansive seadragon habitats in the world and is designed to create the ideal environment to breed leafy seadragons, which has never been done in captivity. The exhibition will immerse guests into the underwater lives of seahorses and seadragons, while giving them a peek into the work Birch Aquarium’s world-class husbandry team is doing to ensure the species survive into the future.

In 2019, LEGOLAND® California Resort celebrates its 20th anniversary in San Diego’s North County. In celebration, the theme park is giving children aged 12 and under a free admission on their birthday and offering fun special events throughout the year.

LEGOLAND® California Resort

An exclusive attraction will also be coming to LEGOLAND California in conjunction with the February 2019 opening of the new The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part. Additionally, coming in spring, LEGO® City 4D- Officer in Pursuit, a new 4D short film exclusive to LEGOLAND parks and debuting at the Showplace Theater, will combine dazzling 3D computer animation with 4D real-world effects.

SeaWorld San Diego’s new dueling roller coaster, Tidal Twister , will make its debut in May 2019. A first of its kind adventure, this unique ride is an exhilarating experience that demonstrates the power of the ocean. Accelerating to 30 mph, riders will twist and bank as if riding the tide along a tight figure-8 track that includes a dynamic zero-G roll at the center section. Two trains, holding 16 passengers each, load at opposite ends of the figure-8 track and cross in the center with guests facing both forward and backward on the trains. A height requirement of only 48″ makes this a perfect ride for younger guests and family members. Also, in 2019, SeaWorld San Diego is offering a lineup of year-round seasonal events, all connected to a cause that reflects SeaWorld’s Park-to-Planet commitment to help save the ocean and the creatures that live there.

New Hotels

The 128-room Moxy San Diego, the first California hotel under Marriott International’s millennial-minded Moxy Hotels brand, opened in December 2018 in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. The boutique hotel has plenty of playful touches including hotel check-in on wheels with a custom lobby “trike” for guests to receive their digital room key and Bar Moxy’s signature welcome cocktail. Guest rooms are flexible and functional and feature free wi-fi and 55-inch flat-screen smart TVs programmed with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and more. Bar Moxy offers the flavors of San Diego with quality coffee from San Diego Coffee Co., signature and custom brews from San Diego’s buzzing beer scene, and an impressive menu of handcrafted cocktails. The bar also offers a food menu served throughout the day. Moxy combines stylish design and approachable service at an affordable price. Moxy San Diego rates start at $250 per night.

Moxy San Diego

Slated to open in May 2019, The Guild is a 162-room Marriott Tribute Portfolio property housed in the historic landmark, 1920s-era Army-Navy YMCA building in downtown San Diego. Guest rooms will appeal to diverse travelers with everything from cozy, European-inspired accommodations to a two-bedroom penthouse suite with private rooftop deck. A signature restaurant will highlight San Diego’s indoor/outdoor lifestyle with greenery-filled surroundings and a light Mediterranean-inspired menu. Guests will be welcomed into a redesigned contemporary lobby that includes a full-service bar.

The new Carté Hotel & Suites San Diego is slated to open in June 2019 in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. The 14-story hotel will include 240 upscale guest rooms and suites along with a restaurant, rooftop bar with fireplaces, wine shop, full-service athletic club and outdoor pool with spa.

Major Events

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California opens in March and features 80 acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers on coastal farmland overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The fields have theme gardens, fresh strawberries, antique tractor wagon rides, a sweet pea maze and picnic areas, and special events and activities are organized throughout its 10-week season. Events are free with admission and include a kids’ day, photography workshop, bonsai show and sale, and special Mother’s Day celebration. Concert days include bands playing zydeco, bluegrass, blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

Flower Fields

On March 2-3, 2019, downtown’s scenic Waterfront Park on San Diego Bay will host the seventh CRSSD Fest, an electronic music festival featuring top acts like ODESZA, Phantogram, Maetrik, The Martinez Brothers, and Justin Martin & Friends performing on three outdoor stages. Craft beer, mixed drinks, local food and a VIP area will also be available. The festival is a ticketed, paid-admission event for attendees aged 21 and older.

Celebrating 25 years of revelry, San Diego shamROCK on March 16, 2019, will paint downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter green with San Diego’s largest Saint Patrick’s Day block party. Drawing more than 20,000 attendees, this annual celebration features performances by traditional Irish steppers along with three stages of live music including nationally recognized Irish rock and Celtic bands. The festival is a ticketed, paid-admission event for attendees aged 21 and older.

Held April 12-14, 2019, at Scripps Park overlooking scenic La Jolla Cove, the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance draws vintage car enthusiasts to the luxury seaside village of La Jolla. The sophisticated event includes a cocktail party, VIP Steam Punk party and the signature Concours d’Elegance car show featuring over 125 spectacular one-of-a-kind vehicles on display.

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

Held April 27-28, 2019, the Mission Federal ArtWalk will celebrate its 35th anniversary in the streets of downtown’s Little Italy neighborhood. This free, annual event attracts more than 300 artists from around the globe and fills colorful Little Italy with art, craftsmanship and beautiful goods. More than just an art event, the festival is a family-friendly opportunity to participate in interactive art installations and also features live music and dance performances.

More major event news

Restaurants, Breweries and Nightlife

In December 2018, a new speakeasy Realm of 52 Remedies opened on Convoy Street , the food thoroughfare affectionately known as San Diego’s Asian Restaurant Row. The 1920s-era inspired space transports guests with elements that reflect the owners’ Asian heritage and include a lotus-shaped seating booth, a dragon painted on the ceiling above suspended cloud sculptures and hanging lights crafted from dumpling steamer baskets illuminating a chinoiserie-wallpapered hallway. Twelve featured cocktails named after signs of the zodiac incorporate both Asian ingredients and spirits. Small plates and snacks are also offered in the luxurious, opulent enclave.

San Diego Night Market June 25, 2016

Kairoa Brewing Co. opened in January 2019 in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. The two-story venue pays homage to its founders’ home country of New Zealand and serves house and guest beer, a full food menu and more than a dozen wines. Head brewer Joe Peach utilizes New Zealand hops, renowned for their unique, aromatic characteristics. Menu items include a sausage roll, butter chicken pies and Kiwi burgers. An open-air upstairs patio overlooks the neighborhood and features a play area for children and fire pits for adults to enjoy.

The new El Jardin restaurant in San Diego’s Liberty Station appeared on the list of “Best New Restaurants in America” in both Esquire and Food and Wine magazines in 2018. Opened in June 2018 by “Top Chef” contestant chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, El Jardín features regional Mexican fare refined and reinterpreted with both indigenous Mexican ingredients and local produce, along with an extensive selection of tequila and mezcal.

More restaurant news

Performing Arts

During February 19–April 7, 2019, the Tony® Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse presents Diana, a world-premiere musical based on the life of the UK’s Princess Diana and directed by the Playhouse’s Tony® Award-winner Christopher Ashley. Facing an entrenched monarchy and unprecedented media scrutiny, Princess Diana surprises everyone―including herself―as she grows into a global phenomenon and manages to change the world. Diana is a highly-anticipated musical featuring an epic and sweeping contemporary score.

La Jolla Playhouse

More performing arts news


Carnival Cruise Line announced the return of its cruise ship Miracle to operate a new winter schedule from San Diego beginning October 4, 2020. The itineraries include convenient three-day getaways to Ensenada, Mexico; four-day sailings to Ensenada and Catalina Island; and five-day cruises that spend two full days in the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas. Also offered are four 15-day round-trip cruises to Hawaii departing October 16 and November 28, 2020, and January 9 and February 20, 2021.

Carnival Cruise Line

Awards & Anniversaries

In January 2019, Expedia ranked #7 in its 19 Cities that Must be Seen in 2019 list, and Thrillist named San Diego one of The 19 Best Places for a Big Trip in 2019.

In November 2018, TripAdvisor ranked San Diego #7 in its Top 25 Destinations in the U.S. to visit, according to its prestigious Travelers Choice Award.

The City of San Diego and Old Town Chamber of Commerce will mark the 250th commemoration of the birth of San Diego in 2019. In 1769, the first settlement of Alta California was established, which included a mission and presidio, set above Old Town San Diego. A main calendar of events marking significant moments throughout the history of San Diego will be hosted on: oldtownsandiego.org/250th . Planned activities that commemorate San Diego’s rich history include monthly lectures, festivals like a Founders’ Day Festival, and other family-friendly activities.

Click here for a complete list of What’s New in San Diego this spring