Balboa Park, San Diego

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - 114 Reviews

1549 El Prado (619) 239-0512

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  • Balboa Park
    by apbeaches
  • Bird of paradise flower at Balboa Park
    Bird of paradise flower at Balboa Park
    by Jefie
  • Casa del Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego
    Casa del Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego
    by Jefie
  • mstinawu's Profile Photo

    "Everything" Park

    by mstinawu Written Jun 20, 2007
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    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.

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    Just a Casual Stroll

    by soozyd Written Jun 3, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

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    • Eco-Tourism
    • Family Travel

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  • Balboa Park

    by navgirl Updated Jun 2, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

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    • Family Travel
    • Zoo

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  • venteeocho's Profile Photo

    Green & Arquitecture

    by venteeocho Updated May 31, 2007

    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.

    Related to:
    • Women's Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Study Abroad

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  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Balboa Park

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 25, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

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    Kate Sessions in Balboa Park

    by Pawtuxet Updated Apr 21, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Kate Sessions

    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?

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Hiking and Walking

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  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo

    Exotic trees of Balboa Park

    by Pawtuxet Updated Apr 21, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

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    • Eco-Tourism

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  • tvdandy's Profile Photo

    Balboa Park, part two, close ups!

    by tvdandy Written Jan 13, 2007
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    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.

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    The Smithsoniam of the West, no lie! Part one

    by tvdandy Written Jan 13, 2007
    Welcome to a cultural paradise.
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    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.

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits

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  • wwliu's Profile Photo

    Museums Center

    by wwliu Written Nov 20, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

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    • Museum Visits
    • Music
    • Architecture

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  • orlikins's Profile Photo

    Balboa Park

    by orlikins Updated Nov 6, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Balboa Park
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    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! ;)

    Related to:
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  • Museum of Man

    by Phalaenopsis03 Updated Jun 26, 2006

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    Mayan monuments @ the musuem (2.25.06)
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    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.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits

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  • Mingei International Art Museum

    by Phalaenopsis03 Updated Jun 26, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ningyo: The Art of the Japanese Doll (2.26.06)
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    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

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits
    • Family Travel

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  • Spreckels Organ

    by Phalaenopsis03 Updated Jun 26, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion (2.26.06)
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    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.

    Related to:
    • Music
    • Museum Visits
    • Family Travel

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  • Japanese Friendship Garden

    by Phalaenopsis03 Updated Jun 26, 2006

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    Jen & I @ the Japanese Friendship Garden (2.25.06)
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    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.

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