Last Updated on January 29, 2024

Lauded as one of the nation’s most beautiful cities on numerous traveler polls, San Diego is worthy of its many accolades with magnificent natural landscapes, deep cultural diversity, award-winning cuisine, and practically picture-perfect weather.

As a local, I completely understand why visitors fall in love with America’s Finest City. I know what a special place it is, and so do so many visitors. No one comes to San Diego without planning their next return trip.

San Diego continues offering more and more attractions, events and experiences to enjoy; here’s what’s on the agenda for 2024.

San Diego Attractions

LEGOLAND Debuts Dinosaurs

LEGOLAND California is ready to roar in ’24. Not only is the park in coastal Carlsbad celebrating its 25th birthday, but it will open a new themed area called Dino Valley as well as hosting North America’s very first LEGO World Parade.

Dino Valley will include two brand-new rides as well as plenty of interactive features for young visitors.

SeaWorld’s Jellyfish Showcase

SeaWorld San Diego Jelly Experience Rendering
SeaWorld San Diego Jelly Experience Rendering. Image from SeaWorld.

SeaWorld San Diego, which has added numerous new rides and attractions in the past few years, is adding another twist in 2024: an aquarium called “Jewels of the Sea: The Jellyfish Experience.”

With its walk-through arch and giant viewing wall, the aquarium promises to be as immersive as things can get without actually swimming alongside the jellies.

Botanical Building Reborn

One of the most distinctive structures in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park, the Botanical Building was built in 1915 and is one of the largest wood lath structures in the world.

This home to hundreds of rare, tropical, and indigenous plants has undergone a major reconstruction intended to restore the building to its original design and is set to reopen in 2024.

A Big Birthday for The Nat

Birthdays don’t get much more monumental than the venerable Natural History Museum in Balboa Park (The Nat), marking its 150th in 2024. Now the oldest scientific institution in Southern California will celebrate with free birthday admission, a new Nature Garden, and giant-screen movie and a whole lot more.

San Diego Cultural Events

World Design Capital a Binational Coup

Two years after San Diego and Tijuana jointly received designation as World Design Capital 2024 — a major global honor — the yearlong WDC24 celebration is about to kick off. San Diego is the first U.S. city to be named or co-named a World Design Capital, and the city teamed with its cross-border neighbor of Tijuana, Mexico, to beat out Moscow (the other finalist) for that distinction.

The two border cities will now mark WDC24 with an extended series of events and happenings centered on the theme of “Home.”

The WDC designation helped inspire AFAR Magazine to include San Diego and Tijuana in its “Where to Go in 2024” roundup of “the 25 most exciting places around the world to visit next.”

Wonderfront Festival

After taking a hiatus in 2023, the sprawling Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival will again unfold along San Diego’s sparkling Embarcadero, with three days of music, food and fun.

The fest, last held in 2022 with headliners including Gwen Stefani and Kings of Leon, is moving from its previous November slot to a new time frame (dates and artists have yet to be announced).

Concours d’Elegance

The art of exquisite automotive design will get a world-class showcase here in 2024 —with a breathtaking setting to match — as the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance unfolds at La Jolla Cove in April.

From a “Porsches on Prospect” sports-car extravaganza to chic VIP happenings to the vintage spritz of the event’s “Roaring ‘20s and Glamorous ‘30s” theme, the Concours d’Elegance promises to be a car lover’s nirvana. And with more than 170 classic vehicles on display, there will be plenty to love.

Copley Symphony Hall

Historic Copley Symphony Hall — the longtime indoor home of the San Diego Symphony — will stage its much-awaited reopening in 2024 after a $125 million renovation.

Improvements to the nearly 100-year-old Downtown performance space (formerly the Fox Theatre) include a reconfigured stage, a reshaped main seating level, improved acoustics and more.

KAABOO music festival

Some five years after its last edition in Del Mar, the popular KAABOO music festival is making its return in 2024. While the lineup of artists has yet to be announced, the fest has a rep for big-name performers and will again unfold at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

San Diego Food & Drink

The dining scene heats up in San Diego with the opening of new restaurants and themed eateries. And don’t forget the craft brew scene.

Lafayette Hotel’s Dining Delights

Lafayette Pool Deck in San Diego.
Lafayette Pool Deck in San Diego. Photo courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority

Since San Diego’s CH Projects took over ownership of the venerable Lafayette Hotel in North Park, it has gone on a wildly creative binge with its dining and drinking options. The eight Lafayette eateries now open or coming online in 2024 include everything from the retro Beginners Diner to the Oaxacan restaurant Quixote to The Gutter, a bar with its own two-lane bowling alley.

Michelin Magic in San Diego

As San Diego continues gaining worldwide renown for its restaurant prowess, the region enters 2024 with a full five restaurants that have been honored with coveted Michelin stars. They include the elegant Addison at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, one of only a handful of restaurants in all of California to earn the maximum three Michelin stars.

Sustainability is the Word at Watershed

One of the most celebrated chefs to come out of Baja California’s fertile Valle de Guadalupe will mark 2024 by opening a new restaurant in San Diego’s North Park. Drew Deckman, who hails from Georgia, but has been a fixture in Baja culinary circles for more than a decade (and earned a Michelin star in Europe before that), is launching Watershed on University Avenue, with sustainability as a guiding principle.

Karl Strauss Embraces Its History

San Diego is known these days as the Capital of Craft, but you could argue that the region’s critical mass of ‘craft-beer-itude’ began in 1989 when Karl Strauss Brewing Co. opened its first tasting room on Columbia Street. Now, as Strauss gets ready to celebrate its 35th anniversary, the granddaddy of San Diego craft brewers has reacquired that original location, which it plans to “reimagine as an homage to the San Diego brewing scene.”

See-Worthy at Seaport Village

The just-opened Malibu Farm restaurant — owned and operated by chef Helene Henderson and her husband, actor John Stockwell — is the latest addition to the waterfront Seaport Village, whose rising profile and surge of new eateries should make it a place to put near the top of your itinerary for 2024.

Whaling Bar Resurfaces

It’s been a decade since the much-loved Whaling Bar at La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel — the “Pink Lady” of San Diego — served its last cocktail. Now, after a refitting of the historic watering hole, the Whaling Bar is set to return in 2024 under the auspices of the SDCM Restaurant Group, which runs eight other San Diego bars and restaurants.

Sporting San Diego

Gallagher Square Gets a Glow-Up

Gallagher Square is already a much-loved focal point of Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres and the No. 1 MLB ballpark in America, as deemed by “USA Today.” Now a $20 million glow-up, set for completion in 2024, will bring even more great features to the family-friendly square, including a new Tony Gwynn Terrace viewing deck and picnic space, a dog park, temporary pickleball courts, public art displays spotlighting San Diego-area artists and much more.

Petco Park Marks a Milestone

Petco Park in downtown San Diego.
Petco Park in downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of San Diego Padres

The Downtown ballpark, which hosts not only MLB baseball, but pop concerts, college football’s annual Holiday Bowl, and many other special events, marks its 20th anniversary in 2024. As a result, the Padres will be hosting plenty of happenings and commemorations as the big anniversary season unfolds at this beautiful venue.

Rady Invitational Returns

With the stunning success of the San Diego State men’s basketball team which made a thrilling run to the national title game in 2023, San Diego has cemented its rep as a basketball hotbed. The new Rady Children’s Invitational builds on that track record, bringing top college hoops teams from around the nation to the UC San Diego campus for the second edition of this exciting Thanksgiving Weekend tournament.

Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar

The Del Mar Racetrack is fast becoming a go-to home for the Breeders’ Cup, one of the most prestigious annual events in Thoroughbred racing. The two-day event, with awards and prizes over $30 million, will unfold in Del Mar in both 2024 and 2025, building on an inaugural run “where the turf meets the surf” in 2021.

Pro Volleyball

Excitement over women’s professional volleyball is spiking big-time, and now our town is getting in on the action with the 2024 debut of the San Diego Mojo, a Pro Volleyball Federation club owned by Olympian and beach-volleyball luminary Kerri Walsh Jennings.

The Mojo begins play in February at Viejas Arena on the San Diego State University campus.

State Games Make San Diego Home

San Diego’s strong and ever-growing rep as a sports town is exemplified by the return in 2024 of the State Games of America, an Olympic-style national event held every two years and showcasing matchups among State Games medal winners from more than 30 U.S. states. Some 12,000 amateur athletes are expected to compete in more than two dozen sports here, from archery to figure skating to surfing.

With an average temperature of 72 degrees and 266 days of sunshine, it’s easy to enjoy being outside in San Diego. This year’s outdoor bliss and beach offerings include:

Pickleball and More on the Embarcadero

Waterfront Park along San Diego’s scenic Embarcadero is adding to its already expansive offerings with a $3 million project to bring pickleball courts, an off-leash dog park, shaded seating and more to the 12-acre oasis, which boasts beautiful views of San Diego Bay and beyond.

San Diego’s Beaches Still Shine

And of course, San Diego just wouldn’t be San Diego without its amazing beaches and their world-famous surf, sun and fun. While there are always lots of new things to do and see in this ever-dynamic city, you can always count on our 70 miles of coastline — from its beaches to its boardwalks to its bays — to make your visit here an amazing experience! 

Author

  • Michael Kompanik

    Michael Kompanik is a retired Navy Captain, a managing editor of Rovology Online Magazine and a freelance travel writer. He currently resides in San Diego California with his wife Noreen who is also a travel writer and editor. Together they have traveled to such far off places as Europe, Thailand, Central America, Africa and more. Michael’s wide-ranging interests include history, nature, travel, photography, and, of course, military matters.