6 Must-do Experiences in Beautiful Balboa Park, San Diego

Balboa_Park,_San_Diego,_CA,_USA_-_panoramio_(11)Visitors by lily pond at Balboa Park |Wiki Commons 

Have a curious mind, good walking shoes and a few days to spend in San Diego? Head north of downtown to Balboa Park, a vast wonderland of natural beauty and rich culture. Stretching over 1200 acres, including the grounds of world renowned San Diego Zoo, this dynamic Southern Californian treasure is a sure-bet on your San Diego travel itinerary.

20180228_225036San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park | ©marinarena

Go Museum-Hopping

Delightful variety is found in the culture candy box of Balboa Park.  Explore up to 17 museum venues, including traditional mainstays San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) and San Diego Natural Museum of Art (The Nat). For a more eclectic experience, folk arts and crafts gem Minghei International is where to go. Take advantage of the one-day pass that offers admission to 5 museums for almost $50 or the multi-day museum pass, which gets you into 6 museums for less than $60.


Shakespeare statue, Balboa Park | ©marinarena

Take in the Performing Arts

No need to visit Stratford Upon Avon for a Shakespearean production. Catch theatrical performances at the Old Globe, where there’s much ado about something– all that’s bravo worthy.  Attracting premier stage talent and a plethora of theatre aficionados, the Old Globe complex hosts about 15 classic and contemporary productions annually.


California Tower, Balboa Park | ©marinarena

Aside from thespian and musical theater efforts, park concerts at Spreckles Organ Pavilion occur year-round. Located in the southern area of the park, the venue houses the world’s largest pipe organ. Thanks to the generosity of San Diego, free organ concerts are provided, including one every Sunday afternoon. Catch world renowned organist, Raul Prieto Ramirez, who made a triumphant debut as main civic organist in early 2018.


Botanical Building |©marinarena

Go Nature Viewing

Passion for horticulture is on parade throughout the mega park. You may choose to roam around on your own to appreciate gorgeous flora and fauna. However, it may be more advantageous to join on a specialized horticulturist led tour to properly learn about the variety of plants, hundreds of varieties of palm trees alone. Make it a point to sit and be silent at the lovely lily pond by the Botanical Building , then snap some shots of the waterbed and zigzag through Japanese Gardens.

Delight in the Science of Things

Biology, geology, geometry, astronomy, paleontology – and even more disciplines of science are brilliantly and enticingly presented at park venues. Head to Museum of Man , where there are over 100,00 artifacts. Learn about human experience and development by examining skeletons and exploring myths and legends of man. Beside bones, a rather unusual museum subject has been on exhibition here- beer! Discover how the popular adult beverage was made by ancient civilizations. Go mad for science also at Air and Space Museum , where you can see a reproduction of a Wright Brothers glider that was deemed the first practical aircraft.


California Tower, Balboa Park | ©marinarena

Gawk at Pretty Spanish Architecture

Gracing countless San Diego sunset and other city photographs are the elegant, ornate reconstructions of Casa del Prado. Architectural style of the reconstructed Casa buildings is borrowed from Spanish- Colonial baroque. Among the most attractive edifice features are garlanded stone columns and dome tops with an emerald green diamond pattern. Snap a gorgeous shot of the Casa buildings for your San Diego photo album or cell phone screensaver.

Be S.D. Social

Rivaling the prime nightlife draw of Gaslamp District is the mostly day-tripper delight of Balboa Park.  The park, originally built for the 1915-16 World Exposition, was meant to be for the masses.  About 2 million non San Diego county visitors mix in with millions of loyal locals to take advantage of the park pleasures.  Park regulars include inspiring artists, novice and pro photographers, active runner and cycling clubs and kids who happily skip, swing and slide at the playground.  Dine at lively al fresco eatery Panama 66 featuring savory, locally sourced entree local ingredients and beer on tap.


California Tower, Balboa Park | ©marinarena

If you want to impress your social media followers, share your selfies and building pics at Instagram-popular California Tower at the Museum of Man. Climb up the tower steps with your friend or significant lover for a treasured memory.

Tip: Make a tower reservation in advance! There are sell outs at peak tourist times.

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