Balboa Park, San Diego

4.5 out of 5 stars 121 Reviews

1549 El Prado (619) 239-0512

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  • Balboa Park
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  • 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
  • Yaqui's Profile Photo

    Spreckels Organ Pavilion 1914

    by Yaqui Written Apr 25, 2010

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    This lovely ornate theatre caught my eye when exploring Balboa Park. I had no idea it has an actual 1914 pipe organ that contains 4,530 pipes. It is secured by a medal door. After researching it was John D. and Adolph Spreckels dream to donated this lovely organ to the city he loved. It is considered one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs. It found a home here during the 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition.

    On Sundays they perform free weekly performances sine 1917.

    Hours:
    Concerts, Sun. 2:00–3:00 p.m.; mid-June–Aug.
    International Summer Organ Festival Mon. 7:30 p.m.

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    Balboa Park

    by bellatrix Written Mar 27, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Balboa Park is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon, with varied flora and even some fauna to enjoy. It's a very large park, and contains the San Diego Zoo, some museums and an Imax, among other things. Great place to walk or bike around, with beautiful gardens and lovely old Spanish architecture around the museums.

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    • Museum Visits
    • Zoo
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  • A visit to Balboa Park is a must for first timers

    by DesertDarlene Written Feb 25, 2003

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    This park was left over after the end of the California-Panama expositio in 1919. Many of its buildings are world famous. Some of them were used as a setting for Xanadu in the move Citizen Cane.

    The park is filled with museums and other outdoor activities.

    The park itself is free and there are often free activities inside the park. The museums usually charge an admission, but at times, even those can be free.

    Statue of Balboa at night
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    California Lovin'

    by dinhyen Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Balboa Park is a gem right in the middle of the city. Originally developed for the world fairs in the mid-1910s and mid-1930s, the Park is home to several museums, galleries, cultural centers, gardens, a theater, and the San Diego Zoo! The park itself is a lush horticultural paradise. But what I found most interesting about the complex is its architecture. Intricate and exotic Spanish colonial design motif dominates here, and many buildings are attractions in their own rights. This place is not to be missed!

    San Diego Botanical Garden at Balboa Park
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    Museums Center

    by wwliu Written Nov 20, 2006

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    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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    • Music
    • Architecture

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    San Diego Hall Of Champions

    by Jim_Eliason Written Aug 26, 2007

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    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.

    San Diego Hall Of Champions San Diego Hall Of Champions San Diego Hall Of Champions San Diego Hall Of Champions San Diego Hall Of Champions
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    Spreckels Organ

    by Phalaenopsis03 Updated Jun 26, 2006

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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.

    Concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion (2.26.06) Spreckels Organ
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  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    Nature and culture in the heart of San Diego

    by Jefie Updated Nov 4, 2013

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    As early as 1835, a large plot of land was set aside for public recreation in San Diego. The idea of turning it into an urban park came up a few years later, and Balboa Park took on much of the appearance it still has today when it hosted the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Extensive landscaping work occurred at that time, and some magnificient buildings were built along the Prado, the park's main thoroughfare. Unlike most structures built to host world fair exhibitions, the ones in Balboa Park were not meant to be temporary and remain in use to this day. Several of them are now home to the park's numerous museums and theatres.

    The weather was just too nice when we visited Balboa Park to hit any of the museums, so we decided to focus on the park's gardens instead. We stopped at the visitors center to pick up a free map, and spent the entire morning walking all over the park. The only time we had to pay admission fees was to visit the Japanese Friendship Garden ($6), but we figured it wasn't much to pay considering everything we'd seen in the park. It definitely is one of San Diego's attractions you don't want to miss!

    Balboa Park is open to visitors 24h/day, but most attractions are open roughly from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. Parking is free, but make sure you get there early enough because it fills up fast!

    Balboa Parl's Botanical Building Casa del Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego In Balboa Park's Desert Garden Balboa Park's Japanese Friendship Garden Bird of paradise flower at Balboa Park
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    Stop and smell the roses

    by goodfish Updated Jan 23, 2014

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    I think our noses found this one before our feet did.

    Our visit to the city happily coincided with peak season (April/May) for all sorts of spring flowers, and Balboa Park’s Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden was in riotous, full-out bloom. Established in the 1970’s, it has grown from 1200 original plantings to 2,500 of 200 varieties, large and small, in all the colors of the rainbow. It takes a volunteer staff of 45 gardeners to keep them fed, watered and pruned to perfection, and the three acres of beautifully tended beds provide a lovely - and very popular - backdrop for weddings and engagement photos.

    Even if your horticultural thumb is closer, like mine, to black than green, this is a pleasant wander, I read, from March - December. Paths are paved and level - nice for baby strollers and visitors with mobility challenges - and wind around a fountain and shady, blossom-covered arbor.

    Open every day, and entrance is free. Closest parking lot (also free) is at the Natural History Museum on the other side of the pedestrian bridge which crosses Park Blvd. to access the garden. See a park map here:

    http://www.balboapark.org/sites/default/files/balboa_park_map.pdf

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  • anagrettel's Profile Photo

    Balboa Park

    by anagrettel Written Apr 15, 2006

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    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)

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    Extreme Gardening?

    by hotlipz Written Mar 28, 2006

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    I love gardening, so Bilboa Park was anamazing place for me to visit. The sad thing is that most of the plants that grow in this beautiful, formal garden are mostly not hardy in England. It was warm, bright the air full of beautiful scents (especially the lavenders) - a wonderful example of formal gardens and beautiful architecture. It's easily accesible via theSan Diego bus tour (see travel tips) and well worth a visit.

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  • BALBOA PARK

    by sabsi Updated Jun 14, 2005

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    My favourite part of San Diego was Balboa Park and its great buildings. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit any of the many museums or the famous San Diego zoo but we had a look around the park's main street El Prado nevertheless.

    Most of the buildings in Balboa Park were built for the Panama-California International exposition in 1915 and 1935 in a spanish moorish style. They are sourrounded by big trees, colourful flowers and the free trolley riding by from time to time.

    Museum of Man, Balboa Park Balboa Park Balboa Park Balboa Park Balboa Park
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  • SHAKESPEARE IN SAN DIEGO

    by sabsi Written Jun 14, 2005

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    I was very suprised to find a Globe Theatre in Balboa park - "The old Globe". It didn't really quite fit here but it's nice to see one again. It's not as nice as the one in London though - it's a bit "plasticy". However, it's much older than the one in London. It was built for the California-Pacific International Exposition in 1935.

    The old Globe The old Globe San Diego
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    Palm Canyon Balboa Park

    by AVG2319 Written Nov 11, 2008

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    Across the Parking lot from the Alcazar Garden, Palm Canyon in Balboa Park will take you across a wooden footbridge, down some stairs to a wide winding path through lush palm trees. Some of the Palm trees date back to 1912. Palm Canyon has more than 450 palms and is home to many squirrels. We enjoyed watching them play and eat. You can hear them knawing on their food, this is how quiet it is in Palm Canyon. While you walk through Palm Canyon you can often hear the organ from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

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  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Balboa Park

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 25, 2007

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    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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