The Zoro grotto garden located within Balboa Park use to be a nudist colony in the 1930's, now it is a lovely butterfly garden. Early in the morning we saw many butterflies sipping the nectar from their favorite flowers. This is a neat garden because it is sunken in, tucked away within the trees.
Across the pedestrian Bridge at Balboa Park you will find a beautiful rose garden with over 2,000 roses in every color. The garden is 3 acres and along the pathways and fountains there are nearly 200 varieties of beautiful roses. If you love to visit botanical gardens, this is a great spot to see and smell the roses. And it is free to see!
You could spend your entire vacation here at the park and not see everything there is to see. Balboa Park houses the San Diego Zoo, the Science Center, Museum of San Diego History, home to 15 major museums, several theaters, botanical gardens, several flower gardens and fountains, train rides-there is something for every age group at Balboa Park. The architecture alone is beautiful to look at. Even if you don't have time for the museums, a visit to Balboa Park is a must if you are in San Diego. Most of the gardens are free, with the exception of the Japanese Garden, and many of the museums are free on Tuesdays. You can pick up a map of the park at the Visitor's Center.
Thanks to an exhibit of French artisit Niki de Saint Phalle's sculptures at the Garfield Conservatory in Chicago, the instant I saw "Nikigator" (1991) outside the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, I knew that it was one of her sculptures. Her sculptures are colorful, whimsical, exaggerated and larger than life, many of them are women known as "nanas" and many are animals.
There are two other of her sculptures in Balboa Park that I saw, also near the Mingei Museum is "Poet and Muse", and near the Hall of Champions is "#23 Basketball Player" which coming from Chicago I knew to be Michael Jordan's number with the Chicago Bulls.
Niki de Saint Phalle lived in San Diego from 1994 until her death in 2002. I saw references to Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in Escondido's Kit Carson Park, a sculpture garden which was her last major project but I couldn't get what appeared to be the official website to open up. But I assume it's still there and it looked like a cool place to visit if you enjoy her work.
Balboa Park is a 1,200 acre urban cultural park in San Diego, California, United States. Placed in reserve in 1835, it is one of the oldest sites in the United States dedicated to public recreational usage. Besides open areas and natural vegetation, it contains a variety of cultural attractions including museums, theaters, gardens, shops and restaurants as well as the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977. The park is managed and maintained by the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department.
Balboa Park is home to the San Diego Zoo and a wealth of museums but it's also a lovely place to have a stroll on a sunny day. Frommers has a nice online walking tour of Balboa Park that takes about 2 1/2 hours if you don't stop and see any of the museums or attractions.
Named for Spanish explorer Balboa, the 1st European to see the Pacific Ocean, Balboa Park dates back to 1868 and is the 2nd oldest city park in the US after Central Park in New York City. The Spanish style buildings were built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition that celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal. They were intended to be temporary exhibit halls but were reused for the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition. The now permanent structures now house a variety of museums.
Balboa Park also has extensive gardens including a beautiful rose garden, a cactus garden, Palm Canyon, a Japanese Friendship Garden and the Alcazar Garden modeled to look like the one in Seville Spain.
I was lucky enough to grab one of the few parking spots near the Museum of Art since I got there before the museums opened, but there is more parking near some of the other museums. It was quite crowded the day I was there due to a graduation and another luncheon going on that day.
We loved San Diego--the balmy weather, beautiful scenery and Balboa Park! Balboa Park is an urban park nestled within the city itself.
Within Balboa Park is the San Diego Museum of Art, which is the regions oldest and largest art museum. Plan to have lunch at one of the outdoor cafes, then trod over to see noteworthy artwork at this museum. Hours are Tues.-Sun. 10 am-6 pm and Thurs. 10 am-9 pm. For more information call (619) 232-7931 or www.sdmart.org
We also took the time to tour San Diego Natural History Museum, which is inside the park. Its dramatic entrance drew us to want to look inside! It was established in 1873 and is the oldest Scientific Institute in Southern California. Hours are 10 am-5pm daily. For more information call (619) 232-3821 or www.sdnhm.org.
The Balboa Park visitors center is a wise stop to make, located at 1549 El Parador. You'll find helpful information here, but you can also call, (619) 239-0510 or www.balboapark.org.
Bolboa Park has many things to offer for different age groups such as museums, theaters, gardens, shops,restaurants and world famous San Diego Zoo
Here is the list of the museums:
Museum of Man
San Diego Museum of Art
Museum of Photographic Arts
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
Timken Museum of Art.
Home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo, the Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, and classes.
Admittance to the Park grounds is free. The Botanical Building, outdoor gardens and some additional attractions are also offered free of charge.
Passport to Balboa Park, San Diego's best cultural value, offers visitors the chance to experience 13 museums in the Park, with savings of more than 50% and the convenience of a one-time purchase. The Passport is valid for seven consecutive days, and includes one admission to each of the 13 attractions. The Zoo/Passport Combo includes the Passport to Balboa Park plus one-day deluxe admission at the San Diego Zoo, all for one low price. Passport products may be purchased online before your visit
Balboa Park Audio Tour -one and a half hour audio walking tour of the Park can be rented at the Balboa Park Visitors Center.
A Walk in Balboa Park:Self-Guided Walking Tour by Pam Crooks
This convienient pocket sized book has a handy central map and insights into the history, buildings, major botanical gardens and various other features of the park.
The beauty of Balboa Park offers a lovely setting for destination weddings.
The Museum Stores of Balboa Park present unique merchandise-from jewelry to artifacts, from photos to folk art, from gardening items to history books. Spanish Village Art Center presents more than 50 artists and craftspeople with their arts for sale in a charming setting, the UN Building's International Gift Shop sells world handicrafts and The Old Globe offers an assortment of theater-related products
This Balboa park museum is a hall fo fame of sorts for San Diego's most famous sports figures. It features the famous players for the Padres and Chargers and also famous San Diegans who made it big on pro teams of other cities.
This is a great area to have a picnic and just walk around. Balboa park has so many different areas about it there's just no going wrong if you decide to visit. There are also a variety of museums scatted in one area and various historic buildings. You'll need a good day to visit all of Balboa Park if you're keen to exploring everything the park has to offer.
We spent a couple hours just strolling on through the grounds, poking our heads into gift shops, smelling flowers at the botanical gardens, people-watching on the main square with the fountain. Neither my mom nor I were in museum mode, so we didn't take advantage of the many, many museum opps. Even still, it was worth it for us to just stop through the park and roam. And it was absolutely free.
This is obviously the the place to visit while in San Diego. Balboa park has museums, an IMAX theater and of course the famous San Diego Zoo! It also has playgrounds if you want to just let the kiddos run around. There is also the artists colony called Spanish Village that has great local artists selling their work. We lived in the San Diego area and visited here quite a bit. It's beautifully maintained and worth the time. The architecture of the museums alone are amazing to see. If you have kids who LOVE trains then the Miniature Railroad museum is worth a trip. People have loaned their train sets for display and there is also an area where the kids can control the trains. My two boys loved that! There is much more to see and do so check out the park's website listed below.
Locals and San Diego visitors flock to Balboa Park for the San Diego Zoo and more than 15 museums, theaters, golf, gardens and acres of open space. Balboa Park is open year-round and located a few minutes from downtown San Diego.
The easiest and cheapest way to experience Balboa Park is on foot or by bike. The park is one of the few places left in San Diego where pedestrians really do have the right of way.
West side of the park - The west side, located between Sixth Avenue and Route 163, includes a sample of Irving Gill architecture, found at Marston House; a favorite spot for dogs, Nate's Point; and Marston Point. It's a good place to start most any excursion. Balboa Drive, which runs parallel to Sixth Avenue for approximately a mile, provides ample parking. Long pathways run the length of this green patch, stretching from the Marston House in the north to Marston Point in the south.
The heart of the park - Crossing over Route 163, the Cabrillo Bridge gives cyclists, runners and strollers alike grand views of the city's skyscrapers to the south, the San Diego Zoo to the north and the majestic California Tower, looming over the park to the east. The bridge leads directly into the pedestrian-only portion of El Prado, the wide stretch of pathway approximately a half-mile in length, stretching east from the House of Hospitality to the Plaza de Balboa and its fountain.
The park's center is suitable for a rest stop, providing pleasant spots like the reflective Lily Pond, the bubbling Bea Evenson Fountain and Plaza de Balboa or the Moreton Bay Fig and other garden spots. If you want to be entertained, keep an eye out for the Prado's park players. And while you're there, take a pit stop at the House of Hospitality (Visitor's Center) or head into a few museums.
The rugged east side - If you're into more rugged terrain, the one- to three-mile loops and the packed dirt trails of Florida Canyon should do the trick. The park's guided tours give visitors another way to take in the park by foot.
Balboa Park is considered the US's largest "urban cultural park" with 15 museums and and World Famous San Diego Zoo. Admission to the park itself is free, but each of the various museums has a fee, but a "passport" gets you into the zoo and most of the museums at a discounted rate: $55. Without the zoo, the passport is just $30. With 12 million visitors per year, this is the 6th most visited city park in America, but only the 2nd most visited in the city behind Mission Bay Park!
The zoo is at the northern end of the park, while the majority of the museums and other attractions are at the center of the park on the east-west axis between 6th Ave and Park Blvd.