What’s new to see and do in California this summer?


It’s no secret that with its diverse natural landscapes, iconic urban centers and every type of attraction imaginable, California literally has something for everyone. With its idyllic year-round climate, this probably explains its position as the most visited state in the United States.

As the summer travel season is in full swing, the Golden State is ready to welcome visitors back with a slew of new offerings, from new hotel openings and culinary concepts to exciting exhibits, enriching historical tours and enchanting animal encounters spread across the state.

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New experiences

– Opening on July 12 is the much-anticipated habitat for the little blue penguins of the Beyster family at San Diego‘s Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, making this much-loved facility the only aquarium in the western United States to house the world’s smallest species of penguin, the little blue penguins. The 2,900 square foot exhibit will feature a custom-built habitat with rocky and sandy shores and an 18,000 gallon swimming pool. It also includes a small amphitheater where guests can observe flightless birds swimming underwater, and a discovery cave to see them up close on land and inside nesting burrows.

— Now open in Long Beach is the new babies! exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific, where visitors can meet and interact with adorable baby animals, including baby sea otters, miniature sea jellies and color-changing cuttlefish. Guests learn about endangered baby animals, their various nursery habitats and the specialized care they receive at the aquarium, as well as the accomplishments of its breeding programs and how they contribute to ocean conservation efforts.


Little Blue Penguins, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Birch Aquarium, San Diego
Little blue penguins at Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. (photo via Visit California)

New rides

– On June 18, the new Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture (affectionately dubbed “The Cheech”) opened in the Southern California inland city. Riverside. “A global home for Chicano art,” the center is the product of a partnership between the Riverside Art Museum and renowned comedian and Chicano art collector Cheech Marin. The 61,420 square foot facility houses hundreds of paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures by Latinx artists and invites visitors to celebrate the cultural richness of the Chicano community.

— Near the hub of the central coast of San Luis Obispo, the famous Hearst Castle reopened last month after being closed for two years. Now visitors can take the new Julia Morgan tour to learn about the life and work of California’s first certified female architect, who designed the castle for publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst in Part 1. of the XXth century. Guests taking the Julia Morgan Tour offerings can see seldom-seen areas of the estate that showcase her design talents and some of her personal belongings that offer a glimpse of who she was.


Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture, Riverside, CA
Rendering of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture in Riverside, CA. (photo via Visit California)

New hotel openings

— This summer will see three new hotels introduced in San Francisco, each with a distinctly different vibe. 1 Hotel San Francisco will debut on the city’s scenic Embarcadero, LUMA Hotel San Francisco in its bustling Mission Bay neighborhood and, in Union Square, the completely redesigned and renamed Beacon Grand will relaunch the 1928 building historically known as Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

San Luis Obispo will also open this summer a trio of new hotels from the Nomada Hotel Group, the company behind acclaimed Central Coast properties like Skyview Los Alamos and Solvang’s Hotel Ynez. The group’s specialty is transforming historic spaces into intimate, highly curated places of hospitality, and the three new properties – Pozo, Farmhouse and River Lodge – will offer updated accommodations and premium amenities when they roll out this year.


Pool, The Paloma Resort, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, California
Pool at the Paloma Resort near Palm Springs. (photo via Visit California)

– In the City of OrangeThe historic Olde Towne Plaza, The Richland is set to open in late summer as a reimagined luxury hotel and events venue. The restored historic property will provide an elegant, intimate and highly manicured environment where travelers can come to relax in sophistication, and the local community can commemorate special occasions.

— just south of Palm Springs In Cathedral City, the Paloma Resort will open this summer as a full-service boutique hotel offering a laid-back vibe and a colorful, modernist, mid-century aesthetic. Its 66 bungalows and suites are divided into five dynamic room types that capture the distinct styles and personalities of some of the desert’s most iconic communities: Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Coachella. In a fascinating twist, his restaurant Sol y Sombra is actually housed in a 100-year-old mission-style adobe.

For more information, visit visitcalifornia.com.

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