Spend a Day Exploring Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a 1,200 acre public park in Downtown San Diego with a gorgeous Spanish Colonial Revival Style aesthetic. It contains museums, theaters, gardens, restaurants, a zoo and more.

To Get There

Balboa Park is located in Downtown San Diego.
You can park for free in the Balboa Park parking lot in the center of the park

When To Go

Summer is the best time to visit, but you can really go at any time of year because the weather in San Diego is very mild year round.

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The History

This land was originally set aside by Mexico for its citizens. After the Mexico-American War the land was ceded to the United States. Much of what we see of the park today was created in preparation for the 1915 Panama–California Exposition (World’s Fair). The architect Bertram Goodhue created the building in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. President Roosevelt approved of the buildings' architecture and recommended that the "buildings of rare phenomenal taste and beauty" be left as permanent additions. (wiki). It was common for World’s Fairs to build temporary structures that were taken down after the fair. Thankfully many structures were kept and made with withstanding materials so we can see them today in this beautiful park.

Things to do

Botanical Building & Lily Pond

The Botanical Building in an original building from the 1915 Worlds Fair, and currently has more than 2,100 permanent plants.

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Spreckels Organ Pavilion

One of the wealthiest San Diego residents, John D. Spreckels donated the money to create his now namesake Spreckels Organ Pavilion. This is still the world's largest pipe in an outdoor venue, and holds free concerts every Sunday at 2pm.

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Wander the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden

This rose garden sits on 3 acres and has over 1,600 roses and over 130 varieties. It’s a great place to wander or bring a book and just relax.

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See a show at the Casa Del Prado Theater

This theater is used for youth programs and foundations. It’s a historic reconstruction of the original 1915 building. Occasionally weddings are held here as well.

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Visit the San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art has a great art collection featuring artists like Goya, Rubens and Zurbarán. The museum’s façade at the entrance of the museum has detailed full-body sculptures of artists Velázquez, Murillo, and Zurbarán.

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There are countless other things to see and do at Balboa Park, most notably, the World Famous San Diego Zoo. Check Balboa Park website for a full list of to-dos.


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