7 New California attractions to visit in 2022

Ready to venture out in 2022? Whether you’re planning a local day trip, a weekend road trip or a SoCal jaunt, several new California attractions are scheduled to open over the next 12 months. Among the temptations: a deep dive at the Monterey Aquarium, San Diego’s new Comic-Con Museum and the largest Native American museum west of the Mississippi.

The same designer behind New York City’s High Line has designed San Francisco’s new Presidio Tunnel Tops, a 14-acre national park set to open atop the Presidio Parkway highway tunnels in May. (James Corner Field Operations)

Presidio Tunnel Tops, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

New York City has its High Line, the famous city park built built atop an elevated rail line, where walking paths mix with performance spaces, gardens and art installations. And San Francisco has the High Line designer for a 14-acre national park expansion set to open atop the Presidio Parkway highway tunnels this spring.

When complete in 2021, visitors will be able to walk from Crissy Field to the Presidio’s Main Post for the first time in eight decades, enjoying dramatic views of the San Francisco waterfront along the way.

While drivers zoom through the tunnels below, heading for — or from — the Golden Gate Bridge, tourists and locals will soon gambol in the green spaces above. The new Presidio Tunnel Tops park, which will connect the Presidio’s historic center with the waterfront’s Chrissy Field, will include walking paths, gardens, gathering spaces, a plaza with food service and vista points with stellar views of the city, bay and that famous orange bridge.

A two-acre “Outpost” will offer kids a wilderness-inspired play area that represents the Presidio’s woodland, coastal bluff and dune ecosystems, complete with climbing walls, “log piles,” a hydro tunnel and a giant fallen tree. The latter is an ancient white oak that has been sanded, carved and hollowed out, so kids can play inside.

Details: The park is scheduled to open in May, with free admission daily. Watch the progress at www.presidiotunneltops.gov.

Into the Deep, Monterey Bay Aquarium

You’ve seen the jellies, the otters and the kelp forest. Now the Monterey Bay Aquarium is taking a deep dive in its upcoming special exhibit, “Into the Deep: Exploring Our Undiscovered Ocean,” which opens this spring. The exhibit explores the darkest reaches of the ocean and the animals — including bloodybelly comb jellies and giant isopods — that live there, using robotic submarines to bring the creatures to the surface where you can see them in displays that re-create those deep-sea conditions.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s newest exhibit will be “Into the Deep: Exploring Our Undiscovered Ocean,” which features deep sea creatures like this Bloodybelly Jelly. (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

No one’s done that before. It took the aquarium’s applied water science department years to design a system that could pump, chill and change the seawater’s chemistry to mimic the deep sea habitat — and that work, in turn, was based on decades of research.

Details: The Monterey Bay Aquarium is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily by reservation at 886 Cannery Row in Monterey. The deep sea exhibit is scheduled to open in April. Admission is $35-$50, and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is required for all guests, age 12 or older; www.montereybayaquarium.org.

Comic-Con Museum, San Diego

Balboa Park’s new Comic-Con Museum opened the first of its exhibit spaces over Thanksgiving weekend, but the full three-floor, 25,000-square-foot extravaganza is set to celebrate its grand opening in July. The Comic-Con Museum will fill this space — formerly occupied by the sports-themed San Diego Hall of Champions — with rotating exhibits on comics and pop culture, an education center, a 4K video theater, special events and, of course, a gift shop. You can’t go home without a graphic novel and a branded T-shirt or 12, can you?

An artist’s rendering of San Diego’s new Comic-Con Museum depicts a special event and panel discussion. (Comic-Con Museum)

Details: Phase one is complete (tickets $20), but you’ll want to wait till summer for the whole shebang at 2131 Pan American Plaza in San Diego’s Balboa Park; https://museum.comic-con.org.

Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza, Palm Springs

This desert mecca will soon be home to the 5.8-acre Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in downtown Palm Springs that explores the history and culture of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. The plaza’s showpiece will be the 48,000-square-foot Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, the largest Native American museum in the western US Other attractions will include an outdoor Oasis Trail and the Spa at Séc-he, which honors the tribe’s ancient Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring.

Details: The original plans for a fall 2020 opening were put on hold, but it’s back on track for 2022. Learn more at www.visionaguacaliente.com/culturalplaza.

Sesame Place, San Diego

Got tots? San Diego’s new Sesame Place theme park is slated to open this March with seven “Sesame Street” inspired rides, a musical play area, a daily parade. Cookie Monster, of course, and Hooper’s Store and the 123 Sesame Street front steps. And 11 water attractions, including water slides and a 500,000 gallon wave pool.

Why so much water at a Muppets-centric, Manhattan-inspired amusement park? The theme park is in Chula Vista’s former Aquatica water park. And it’s owned by SeaWorld.

Details: Sesame Place will be located at 2052 Entertainment Circle in Chula Vista; https://sesameplace.com.

Ferrari Build, LEGOLAND California Resort