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San Diego's 20 to Try in 2020

From the old to the new

San Diego is California's Beach City, known for its great weather and beautiful beaches. But there's so much more to discover beyond the beach. The start of a new decade brings exciting events, world-premieres, new rides, and more to enjoy in 2020. Here are 20 ideas to get you started.

1. Take a Walk in Nature

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is an enchanted swath of undeveloped coast crisscrossed by a network of easy hiking trails you can follow down to the beach. It’s also only one of two homes to the endangered Torrey Pine (the other is on the Santa Barbara Channel Islands).

2. Take a Beer, Wine, or Spirits Tour

San Diego's craft beer and liquor scenes are booming thanks to the innovative minds at the helm of these industries.  Learn about San Diego’s legendary brewing culture from the folks who know it best on tours like those offered by Cutwater Spirits (complimentary), and San Diego Beer, Wine, and Spirits Tours, who offer a variety of excursions by chauffeured car, train, trolley, foot, and other options. 

3. Visit San Diego’s Asian Restaurant Row

Akin to L.A.’s Koreatown or New York’s Chinatown, the Convoy District is where you’ll find some of San Diego’s most mouthwatering ramen, dumplings, bibimbap, and Asian desserts. Rakiraki Ramen and Common Theory are favorites for dining in, while Mitsuwa Marketplace and Zion Market boast food courts and aisles of Asian take out.  

4. See the Baby White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Drop in to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park visit the park’s newest resident: Future, a female baby white rhino (the one-hundredth ever born there). Someday, she’ll weigh more than 3,500 pounds, but today she’s just a wee little tyke tipping the scales at a couple hundred pounds.


5. Attend a Music Festival

After its inaugural year, Wonderfront Music and Arts Festival will return in 2020 with three days and 100 musicians performing on several stages around San Diego Bay. This year, the long-running KAABOO San Diego makes a move, bringing its three days of music and fun to Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.


6. Ride SeaWorld’s New Roller Coaster

SeaWorld San Diego will have you hooked on the 150-foot Mako (named for the fearsome shark), its newest roller coaster—the tallest, fastest, and longest dive ride in California.


7. See the New Lego Movie-themed land at LEGOLAND

Brick by brick, LEGOLAND is building a new land based on The Lego Movie, slated to open spring 2020.

8. San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

A bevy of San Diego’s culinary masters and winemakers converge for a week of events during the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival in November, giving a rare chance to sample a huge diversity of local food, wine, and craft beer.

9. Soul-Soothing Meditation on the Sea

Occupying a choice spot on the sea bluffs of Encinitas, the Self-Realization Fellowship Encinitas Temple (known as Swamis by locals) is a jewel. Make a visit, even if just to take in the luscious gardens (free), find some peaceful moments, and savor the sea view.

10. Savor the Symphony at the Water’s Edge

In summer 2020, the San Diego Symphony plans to unveil its new permanent concert venue on the San Diego Bay Waterfront, the Bayside Performance Park, now under construction.

11. Flap Your Jacks

You can take a turn as the chef at this new breakfast spot in North Park where tables are outfitted with griddles for flipping your own pancakes from housemade batter. Someone else will do the heavy lifting when you order eggs Benedict, chilaquiles, or any other breakfast staple from the kitchen.

12. Animae

“Top Chef” alum Brian Malarkey has a habit of creating some of San Diego’s favorite restaurants. He’s continued that trend with a new coal-fired pan-Asian restaurant on San Diego's downtown waterfront.

13. San Diego Bayfair

Have a need for speed? Witness high-speed boats race around a 2.5-mile-course in Mission Bay. This year’s San Diego Bayfair takes place Sept. 18-20.

14. Meet San Diego Zoo’s Newest Ambassador

Tornero the two-toed sloth has a busy schedule of hanging upside down from tree limbs. But the San Diego Zoo's animal ambassador, a boy born in April 2019, is known for being super amiable. And he doesn’t move faster than three miles per hour, so you’re sure to get some quality time together.

15. Must-See Sights at Balboa Park

After undergoing earthquake retrofitting, the iconic California Tower, built in 1915, reopens this winter in Balboa Park. Climb the 200-foot-tall structure for an unbeatable view of San Diego and stop and smell the cherry blossoms at the festival held in their honor at the Japanese Friendship Garden from March 22-24.

16. Stay at a New Hotel

There’s never been a better time to check out new hotels transforming the hospitality landscape with recent additions like The Guild Hotel, Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown, Legacy Resort Hotel and Spa, and InterContinental San Diego.

17. Lounge with Libations at a Speakeasy

Named it the 2019 Cocktail Bar of the Year by an industry publication, Raised by Wolves at Westfield UTC is well worth the trip for your next cocktail hour. Just be ready to find the secret spinning wall granting access to the hidden lounge.


18. Get on the Water

When it comes to water, San Diego has it all. Take a harbor cruise with Flagship Cruises, book a sunset cruise with Hornblower Cruises, go sailing aboard a yacht with San Diego Sailing Tours or set out in search of whales the Pacific Ocean’s gentle giants on a whale watching tour.  

19. Get in the Water

Surfing is just a lesson away with La Jolla-based Surf Diva. If slipping quietly on the surface (or venturing into sea caves) is more your speed, try a kayak tour or go underwater on a dive tour of the Yukon, a Canadian destroyer sunk two miles off the coast of Mission Beach in an area called Wreck Alley.  

20. Kids Free San Diego

San Diego is a year-round haven for kids and families, but October is especially magical. Each year, families and kids can take advantage of Kids Free San Diego, where kids eat, stay and play for free throughout the month of October. 

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