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Balboa Park

Balboa Park

1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Park is open 24 hours, museum hours vary, visitors center open daily 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Balboa Park Information

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Top 5 Things To Know About Balboa Park

  1. History: Balboa Park, originally called City Park, used to be 1,400 acres of undeveloped land. Landscaping began in 1892, followed by the construction of water systems and roads through 1910. In 1915, San Diego was to be the host of the Panama-California Exposition. "City Park" didn't seem like that memorable of a name, so park commissioners invited the public to submit suggestions for the new name. These included San Diego Park, Silver Gate Park, Horton Park and Miramar Park. At last, park commissioners chose the name Balboa Park, after Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, "the first European to spot the Pacific Ocean while on exploration in Panama".
  2. Private Events: Weddings, holiday parties and other special events can be held at Balboa Park San Diego. Each museum in San Diego Balboa Park offers different amenities. Depending on the place in Balboa Park San Diego, it may have banquet halls, classrooms, conference rooms, outdoor areas, reception areas or theaters. The cultural organization buildings, city buildings and outdoor park areas each have rules and regulations pertaining to that particular one. Among San Diego attractions, Balboa Park offers an especially wide variety of venue options.
  3. Gardens: Nature lovers have a lot to see in the gardens at Balboa Park in San Diego. The 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden at San Diego Balboa Park features massive cactus and succulent plants. Visitors will even find exotic African and Australian Protea plants at this area within Balboa Park San Diego. The Botanical Building and the lily pond in front of it are some of the most popular areas that are photographed in Balboa Park - and with good reason. There are over 2,100 permanent plants inside the building and a changing collection of cycads, ferns, orchids and palms. The California Native Plant Garden shows visitors thousands of plants that thrive here in their San Diego habitat.
  4. Rides: Bring your kids to the Balboa Park Carousel. This fun destination is adjacent to the San Diego Zoo and features plenty of hand-carved animals so that your kid has lots of choices. All but two of the hand-carved animals on the Balboa Park San Diego Carousel are original from 1910! While you're on the merry-go-round, you can even play the brass ring game. Balboa Park's Carousel is one of a small number around the world that still have the brass ring game for riders to play. The Balboa Park Miniature Railroad takes families on a fun journey across four acres. The whole trip is a quick and enjoyable three minutes.
  5. Museums: Learn tons of interesting things during museum visits in Balboa Park San Diego. Visit Centro Cultural de la Raza to immerse yourself in Chicano, Mexican, Indigenous and Latino art and culture. Marston House, originally the home of civic leader and merchant George W. Marston, now welcomes visitors to explore it on public group tours. See folk art at Mingei International Museum, things that people have captured on camera at the Museum of Photographic Arts and mummies at the Museum of Man.

Why It's Awesome: Balboa Park San Diego offers lots to do in a single area. If you're interested in learning about science, art and history, you can check out the museums at Balboa Park. The various gardens at Balboa Park San Diego are beautiful and worth walking through with your friends and family. With cool rides for the kids, everyone in the family can stay entertained. With so many options, San Diego Balboa Park is the place to go if you want variety!

  • Residents Free Tuesday: Balboa Park in San Diego offers free admission to residents and active military and their dependents. Check Balboa Park's website to see the schedule for free museums. Each week on Tuesday, the museums that are offering free admission rotate. You and your family can check out new and different museums every week during Residents Free Tuesday.
  • Flower Power: Stroll through the gardens at San Diego Balboa Park. The California Native Plant Garden has more than 100 plants on display, all of which can be viewed from the foot path. The nice thing is that visiting this garden is free to the public, 365 days a year. The Zoro Garden is a butterfly garden, complete with rocks, small pools of water, larvae and nectar plants.
  • Kid Friendly: Balboa Park appeals to kids with the rides that are designed just for them. The carousel has hand-carved animals as well as the brass ring game that only a few carousels around the world still offer. The train ride is also fun and takes families on a zippy trip across four acres in Balboa Park San Diego.

The Local Scoop: San Diego Balboa Park has great restaurants where you and your family can refuel in between all of the sightseeing! Albert's Restaurant, near the Gorilla Tropics at the San Diego Zoo, serves pasta, steak, seafood, pizza, salad and sandwiches. Kids can find something that they like on the children's menu at Albert's. Galileo's Cafe is located in the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and offers sandwiches, salads, pastas, ice creams, pizza and snack items. From sit-down restaurants to quick "grab and go" vendor stands, Balboa Park has lots of places where you can take a break from the fun and eat a meal.

  • Do Let Your Kids Play: Younger visitors to Balboa Park San Diego can climb on play structures, whoosh down slides and go on swings at one of the playgrounds.
  • Do Exercise: Unleash your inner athlete and hit the hiking and biking trails in San Diego Balboa Park.
  • Don't Forget About Wi-Fi: Use public wireless Internet access at Balboa Park. You can connect to the Wi-Fi from the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Hall of Champions, The San Diego Museum of Art, The House of Hospitality and the San Diego Natural History Museum, among other spots!
  • Don't Miss December Nights: During the holiday season, Balboa Park has an event called "December Nights". Visitors can enjoy free admission to museums, check out food and craft vendors and enjoy musical and dance performances.

Balboa Park Map