Kate Sessions is known as the "Mother of Balboa Park", altho casual visitors don't know that. She devoted her life to horticulture. She was the single largest influence in transforming the Park's barren mesa tops and canyons into the extensive botanical collection it is today. Her statue, was created by sculptor Ruth Hayward, and made possible through the support of the members of the community.
There is a self guided tour which you can take. Brochures are available near Kate's statue. Kate lived in the early 1900's. Bless these people who give to their community with such energy and devotion. Where would places like this be without them?
There are many wonderful trees throughout the park. Many worthy of photographing. I don't want to bore you, so I've put a few extras into a travelogue for those who are interested. I noticed people stopping constantly to look at the odd varieties. Some were shedding their bark...many had been upturned in the heavy rains the preceding week.....some drooped lazily while others had trunks and roots like an octopus. I wish they had been marked. I know they come from all over the world.
Since this place is SO HUGE, I thought I would add a second part of pictures. The artwork and sculptures designed on these musuems are unbelieveable. You can spend a whole day just gazing at these. Here are some pics.
Balboa Park is truly a wonder. This park has a total of 14 musuems spreadout through the grounds. Every type of cultural appetite is satisfied. The musuems include an arts, natural history, science and industry, photography, just to name a few. The famous globe theatre is also here. The grounds are stunning as well, beautiful fountains everywhere, incredible architecture, many walking trails through well-kept gardens with rare plant life. Their are musicans, artists and fortune tellers lined all up and down the walking paths. This is easily a 3 day excursion if you want to go through all the musuems. Every tuesday one of the musuems has free admission. Now, if you love the pics, and you know I do, Balboa park has the most stunning musuem exteriors anywhere. Below are examples of some wide shots of all the great architecture and building artwork in the park. My part two, will have tighter shots.
Balboa Park seems like a museums center which inludes 50 museums. The architecture there is divisity of styles. The whole park like the biggest museum that every conner you may find something special. During the holidays, it is usually hold some activities with the typical decorations. In normal days, the environment is quiet and beautiful. Every tuesday, there are three museums free. Meanwhile, there is a free concert hold in every Sunday's afternoon.
I loved the architecture here in Balboa park - so exotic and Spanish.
You could easily spend the day here, but this is where I spent my last afternoon in San Diego.
I liked the little United Nations part of the park where various countries have their own little cottage. It was a bit clichéd but it was still interesting to see what they had on display.
There are loads of musuems in the Park, but I think it is easier to just go into the ones that appeal to you rather than insisting on doing them all.
I really liked the gardens as well. The park & the park tram are free, but you would have to pay to see the museums and galleries.
There were FIVE wedding receptions on in the park when we were there - some of the parties went all out with lime satin bridemaids (I wish I was kidding) with Pimp-My-Ride style stretch hummers! :-) Vulgar or what! ;)
Housed inside the beautiful landmark building that greets visitors entering Balboa Park, the Museum of Man is an anthropology museum with exhibits featuring Ancient Egyptian mummies and artifacts, Mayan monuments, and Native American heritage. This is definitely a fun museum to take the kids to as it's highly interactive and colorful. And while you're there, don't forget to visit the Tortilla lady who makes fresh tortillas and quesadillas from scratch (see attached photo). She's located inside the museum hidden away in the corner directly to the right of the Mayan monuments. You can't miss her, just follow your nose to the scent of the tortillas.
Hours: daily 10am to 4:30pm. Entrance fees: adults are $6.00, seniors are $5.00, children 6 - 17 are $3.00, and under 6 are free.
The Mingei Museum (Mingei meaning "art of the people") is an intimate, two-floor facility that offers eclectic artistry from all over the globe, i.e., traditional and contemporary folk art, craft, and design. When Jen and I came here, the exhibits presented included Elemental Art of the Indonesian Archipelago and Ningyo: The Art of the Japanese Doll. There were a few others, but these two, were in my opinion the most fascinating. Although I thought this museum to be fairly small, the art was quite impactful and interesting. I especially enjoyed seeing the beautifully crafted Japanese dolls (as I have a thing for oriental art and design). I don't know what the upcoming exhibits are, but if you're anything like me and can appreciate the art and history of varied cultures, then this is a definite "must do"!
Hours: Tue. to Sun., 10am - 4pm. Entrance fees: adults are $6.00 and children 6 - 17 and students w/ID are $3.00
The Spreckels Organ is one of the world's largest oudoor pipe organs, and from mid June to August, visitors to Balboa Park can enjoy free concerts held on Sundays from 2pm - 3pm (rain or shine) at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. As these are open-air affairs, I highly advise you to dress accordingly. During the spring and summer months, it can especially get hot and uncomfortable. My friends and I had to prematurely leave a concert once because the sun's rays were beating on us too hard. So I definitely suggest dressing in light-colored clothing and some sort of hat. And oh yeah, don't forget to pack a little picnic basket with goodies to munch on during the concert.
Adjacent to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the Japanese Friendship Garden is currently a small two-acre space that includes a Zen garden, a koi pond, a bonsai exhibit, and an exhibit house (see attached photo). During the weekends, classes are offered in sushi-making, bonsai, calligraphy, and conversational Japanese. Due to its limited size, the Japanese Friendship Garden is scheduled for expansion to make it nine acres. Not sure when that will be completed though.
Hours: Mon. to Fri., 10am – 5pm; Sat. to Sun., 10am to 4pm. Entrance fee: I forgot, but it was a few dollars.
At the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages (HPR), about 30 nations are represented to exhibit traditional, cultural, and/or historical facts and items. Walk from cottage to cottage to gain an understanding of a particular country and also have the opportunity to sample some of their edibles (for a donation). When we were there, the Philippine cottage offered yummy lumpia (Filipino eggroll) and the Polish cottage served sausages (no surprise). Most of the nations represented here are from Europe. However, there were a couple from Asia. I would describe HPR as a sort of mini-scale version of the EPCOT center in Disney World, except it's not as diverse and thorough. On Memorial Day Sunday, HPR presents the annual Ethnic Food Fair.
Hours: Sundays, 12pm - 4pm. Lawn programs at 2pm. Entrance fee: Free.
Balboa Park, one of the most popular places for tourists, is a great place to visit and discover, with14 museums, theaters, a sports complex, playing fields, a rose garden, the largest open-air pipe organ (with 3,500 pipes), sparkling fountain, a lily pond and even an antique carousel -- you need more than a day to see it all.
Most of the ornate Spanish-Colonial style buildings in the heart of the park, including the 200-foot California Tower, are left over from the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition
Situated in a spanish-colonial revival church with sculptures of explorers and pioners on it facade, thisis the "Museum of Man" (in the picture)
A trip to San Diego would not be complete without a visit (or many visits) to Balboa Park! Balboa Park is truly a special place that the whole family can enjoy. It is 1,200 acres of urban park space that is home to 15 major museums, several performing arts venues, more than eight gardens, many cultural and recreational attractions, as well as the San Diego Zoo, and the Spreckels Organ (the world's largest outdoor pipe organ). You can easily spend many days here. The locals like it because it affords them a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Some of the museums and attractions charge entrance fees, but on certain Tuesdays of the month, you can take advantage of their free admission.
1st Tuesday: Centro Cultural de la Raza, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Model Railroad Museum, Natural History Museum
2nd Tuesday: Museum of Photographic Arts, Museum of San Diego History, Veteran's Museum and Memorial Center
3rd Tuesday: Japanese Friendship Garden, Mingei Int'l, Museum of the Living Artist, Museum of Art, Museum of Man
4th Tuesday: Aerospace Museum, Automotive Museum, Int'l Cottages, Hall of Champions
Just so you know, many of the cultural institutions, as well as much of the stunning architecture and landscaping in the park are the legacy of two Expositions, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
For those who travel with children thsi is a nice place to stop by while visiting balboa Park. Stop by at the puppet theater too rest your feet and enjoy the entertainment, is just $5 adults and $3 children (under2yrs is free)
At summer is open Wednesday-Sunday at 11, 1pm and 2:30
There's a Hotline number to check dates and hrs. (619) 544-9203
Balboa park is a great place not just to visit museums, is great for walk and relax. see beautiful architecture buildings.
Check calendar for cultural free events and free museum entrance on tuesdays. (each week of the month you get free tuesday entrance to 3-5 museums, check calendar online for dates)