Founded in Balboa Park in 1916 by Dr. Harry Wegeforth, the San Diego Zoo commemorates 100 years as one of the world’s leading animal presentation facilities with a series of special events through the summer including an uproarious new Wegeforth Bowl Centennial Show filled with music, video and animal ambassadors; a new centennial-themed Bus Tour Film Experience, featuring an exhilarating cinematic look at the zoo’s global conservation work to save species from extinction, and Nighttime Zoo (Jul. 19−Sep. 5), when the zoo is open late with entertainment and animal encounters, culminating in a dazzling evening procession. In recognition of the centennial, some museums in Balboa Park offer partner exhibits about the zoo.
Opening May 5, 2016, at LEGOLAND® California in Carlsbad is LEGO® Ninjago® World, a one-acre ninja-themed new land within the park that features a Ninjago interactive ride, the first in the world to utilize cutting-edge Maestro™ technology that enables guests to virtually throw fire balls, shock waves, ice and lightning to defeat villains. Effects such as heat, smoke and wind are incorporated throughout the adventure, giving guests the ultimate interactive 4D experience. Guests have the opportunity to train like a ninja in four other attractions throughout Ninjago World: Zane’s Temple Build, Kai’s Spinners, Cole’s Rock Climb and Jay’s Lightning Drill. All are designed to test guests balance, agility and speed. Other new additions to this area include a retail outlet, Wu’s Warehouse and dining option, Ninja Kitchen, featuring a twist on Asian street food with banh mi sandwiches and more.
In March 2016, the Living Coast Discovery Center re-opened the signature exhibit, Turtle Lagoon, home to four endangered eastern Pacific green sea turtles, following a major $300,000 enhancement to the area. From now until Sep. 5, 2016, the center is showing a new wildlife exhibit, Passport to the Pacific: A Tour Around the World’s Largest Ocean, which includes a variety of new animal ambassadors and interactive features that allow guests to “travel” through the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, the coral reefs of the South Pacific, the sandy beaches and mangroves of Australia, and the deserts and coastal waters of North America.
The newly opened iFLY San Diego delivers the dream of flight to thrill-seeking visitors with San Diego’s first indoor skydiving wind tunnel in the heart of Mission Valley. People of all ages and abilities can experience human flight in a safe, comfortable and fun environment. The indoor skydiving facility is a marvel of engineering that replicates the experience of skydiving, creating conditions that allow guests to fly on a smooth cushion of air with the help of iFLY certified flight instructors. Coming in June 2016, Airborne San Diego brings two new indoor skydiving wind tunnels to downtown San Diego by Petco Park, as well as a Sky Lounge, viewing platforms, a café and bar
This summer, Balboa Park museums will come alive after 5:00 p.m. The new Park After Dark program adds to the evening bustle of organ pavilion concerts, dance and theater performances and restaurant activity, with numerous institutions in the park offering extended hours on select evenings from May 27–Sep. 2, 2016. The following museums will stay open until 8 p.m. on Fridays: Japanese Friendship Garden, Mingei International Museum, San Diego Art Institute, San Diego Automotive Museum, San Diego History Center, San Diego Museum of Man, San Diego Natural History Museum and The San Diego Museum of Art. The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) will continue to offer extended evening hours on Thursdays. Special programming and discounts during these evening hours will be announced.
During Jul. 20-24, 2016, San Diego becomes the center of the pop culture universe during Comic-Con International, America’s longest continuously-run comics and popular arts convention. To “marvel” at comics art minus the crowds, from Jun. 23–Sep. 4, 2016, visitors can explore a new exhibition at San Diego State University’s Downtown Gallery perfectly timed to coincide with Comic Con and the national election. Titled Party Lines: The Art and Politics of Editorial Cartoons, this exhibit highlights well-known political cartoonists and illustration artists. The gallery is open Thurs.-Mon. and admission is free.
San Diego celebrates Independence Day with a variety of Fourth of July celebrations throughout the county. Coronado’s popular Independence Day Celebration features a two-hour parade followed by a family concert in Spreckels Park and spectacular fireworks over Glorietta Bay. The Port of San Diego celebrates with its Big Bay Boom fireworks extravaganza over San Diego Bay, the largest fireworks display in the county. LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad celebrates July 4th with Red, White and BOOM! Special family activities are available throughout the day with the fireworks starting at 8:30 p.m.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is again planning two racing seasons in 2016: the traditional summer season kicks off with an Opening Day Hats Contest on Jul. 15 and runs through Sep. 5. The summer meet will offer racing Wed.-Sun. with an additional race day on Labor Day. Del Mar’s fall Bing Crosby meeting will feature 15 racing days Thurs.-Sun., Nov. 11–Dec. 4.
Residents and visitors alike celebrate with pride during the annual San Diego LGBT Pride Parade and Festival, Jul. 16-17, 2016. The second largest event of its kind on the West Coast, San Diego’s Pride Festival includes a mile-long parade through Hillcrest and two-day music festival in Balboa Park. The celebration begins the evening of Jul. 15 with a Spirit of Stonewall Rally.
On Jul. 30, 2016, dozens of dogs take to the waves during the annual Unleashed by Petco Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach. Visitors can take in the fun as more than 50 dogs compete in small dog, medium dog, large dog, extra-large dog and tandem surfing challenges.
During Sep. 2-5, 2016, more than 300 tons of sand will be carved and molded into beautiful sculptures for the annual U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and 3D Art Exposition. Held at the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal alongside San Diego Bay, the event features live entertainment, food trucks and unique rides for kids including a zipline that flies over the show.
The 22nd Annual San Diego Festival of Beer takes place Sep. 23, 2016, on San Diego’s downtown bayfront at The Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier. More than 60 breweries provide up to 120 samples and tastings of brews alongside live musical performances, vendors and food.
In March 2016, the Liberty Public Market opened at Liberty Station, following a path paved by iconic markets such as Seattle’s Pike Place and the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The $3 million Point Loma project transforms a 1920s-era warehouse-style building into an indoor-outdoor marketplace that features select purveyors of cheeses and butchered meats, baked goods, fresh pasta, seasonal produce and locally caught seafood.
The newly named ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station is San Diego’s largest arts and cultural district and is located in historic buildings at the former Naval Training Center. With 28 park-like acres, the ARTS DISTRICT is home to nearly 120 museums and galleries, artist studios, dance companies, educational groups, multidisciplinary arts, fine dining, creative retail and other organizations that showcase San Diego’s creative community. The complex offers a variety of event space including the The LOT, opening in summer 2016, a historic building converted to six auditoriums that will seat approximately 400 people total. This cinema/auditorium space is 26,000 sq. ft., with a 2,500-sq.-ft. indoor patio and a 2,500-sq.-ft. outdoor patio.
Opening May 4, 2016, Horton Plaza Park is a newly expanded 1.9 acre public space adjacent to Westfield Horton Plaza shopping mall. The 53,000-sq.-ft. park features a new amphitheater with a standing room capacity of almost 2,000 and the freshly renovated historic Irving Gill fountain, one of the first fountains in the country to combine the features of water and light. Westfield plans to hold its own signature community events in the park, and the space is also rentable for weddings and meetings. A trellis-covered patio offers seating for three on-site eateries operated by Bruxie Waffles, Sloan’s Ice Cream and Starbucks.
Tours and Transportation
On Jun. 2, 2016, Air Canada Rouge begins flying seasonal daily nonstop flights from Vancouver (YVR) to San Diego, through Oct. 16, 2016. WestJet also begins new nonstop service from Vancouver to San Diego on Jun. 16, 2016 with flights on Tues., Thurs. and Sun. through Oct. 20, 2016.
On Mar. 26, 2016, British Airways deployed a larger aircraft on the San Diego-London route. The Boeing 747-400 offers a 20-percent increase in seats during the peak summer months. The change will result in a net seat increase in all cabins of service: 14 seats in first class (new offering for SAN), 4 seats in business, 12 seats in premium economy, and 40 seats in economy.
In April 2016, TripAdvisor ranked San Diego as #6 in its Top 25 Destinations in the U.S. according to its Travelers Choice Award.
In March 2016, FamilyVacationCritic.com recognized La Jolla Cove as one of the 10 Best Beaches for Families in 2016.
In March 2016, Money Magazine named San Diego as the #1 domestic destination in its first Best in Travel Awards. The ranking looked at scenery, hotels, restaurants and affordability. The ranking was compiled after considering 40 sources, including TripAdvisor and Hotels.com.
In February 2016, TripAdvisor ranked La Jolla Shores as #8 in its Top 25 Beaches in the U.S. according to its Travelers Choice Award.
For more information on San Diego, visit www.sandiego.org.