Things to See and Do in Balboa Park in San Diego
San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park is a city treasure that offers so much to see and do. From mummies that reveal civilizations to stories that inspire reflection, there are plenty of things to discover in this 1,200-acre urban cultural park.
Its earliest development owes to two world fairs, including the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition and the California Pacific International Expo of 1935-36. More by clicking here.
1. Museum of Man
A must-visit museum in Balboa Park. The Cultural and Anthropological Museum of Man showcases the evolution of mankind. It is located in the California Tower at the east entrance of the park.
For 30 years, the Museum of Man directors considered changing its name from “Museum of Man” to “Museum of Us.” This shift was an admission that the old title was sexist and a reflection of a greater effort to include indigenous voices and perspectives.
2. San Diego Museum of Art
Cultivate curiosity through great works of art at the San Diego Museum of Art. The museum also offers free artistic demonstrations and free Sunday lectures.
Kids will enjoy the colorful, hands-on exhibits and the sculptural garden. They can also play on the historic 1910 Carousel, which has preserved all of its original hand-carved animals and features a brass ring game.
The museum’s Panama 66 cafe serves drinks and snacks. Coat check is available to stow backpacks, food, and oversized bags.
3. Japanese Friendship Garden
Balboa Park is renowned for its horticultural beauty. From the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden to the lush trails of Palm Canyon, it is a paradise for those with an eye for beauty and a love of nature.
The Japanese Friendship Garden (JFG) was a gift from Yokohama and represents the strong cultural ties between San Diego and Japan. Designed for serene beauty and elegant simplicity, it is a living work of art.
4. Alcazar Garden
The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden is the place to see roses in their showiest bloom, while the Desert Garden features succulents and drought-tolerant California native plants. The ferns, cycads, and tall palm trees at the Botanical Building are also worth a visit.
Designed by Kate Sessions and inspired by the ornate gardens at Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain, this garden is located near the House of Charm and the Sculpture Garden and is within walking distance of the Museum of Art and the Institute of Contemporary Culture. Allow about an hour to explore the garden.
5. Old Globe Theater
Built-in 1935, the Old Globe Theater is based on the Globe Theatre in London and hosts a range of plays including Shakespeare. The venue also offers pre-show talks and post-show forums to enrich the audience experience.
The Old Globe Theatre complex houses three stages: the fully enclosed Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage with 580 seats, the Sheryl and Harvey White Theater in the round with 250 seats, and the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre where the summer Shakespeare Festival takes place. Discover More about San Diego here.
6. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum, also known as “The Nat”, was founded in 1874. This makes it the oldest scientific institution west of the Mississippi.
This four-story museum has a variety of fascinating exhibitions. You can learn about fossils in Fossil Mysteries, get a close-up look at an Allosaurus skeleton, and discover hidden gems at the Mineral Museum.
This is one of the most educational museums in San Diego. Be sure to budget enough time to read exhibit labels and watch films.
7. San Diego Museum of Man
A cultural center for the city, Balboa Park is home to 17 museums and dozens of other organizations. Among them, the San Diego Museum of Art has an extensive collection of pieces spanning from 5,000 BCE to the present day.
Formerly known as the Museum of Man, this anthropology museum has moved away from glass-case displays and now promotes a more universal mission centered on community conversations and self-reflection. It also hosts a wide variety of international dance and drum lessons year-round.
8. San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is a renowned world-class zoological park, home to a huge number of exciting animals. Visitors can view them in habitats, from the eucalyptus forest of Australian koala bears to aviaries populated by Bornean sun bears and Angola colobus.
General admission into the Zoo includes plenty to keep all ages entertained. Upgraded experiences and kids programs are available to enhance the visit. Refuel between sightseeing stops at restaurants, including Albert’s Restaurant and Galileo’s Cafe.
Many of the museums in Balboa Park have gift shops – with merchandise that reflects the museum’s focus (artsy things at art museums, science toys at science ones, zoo stuff at the zoo). There are also several general gift shops and a couple of snack bars throughout the park.
At the Spanish Village Art Center, you can watch artists working on pottery, painting, or sculpting. You can also visit their studios to buy art directly from the artist. Refer to This Web Page.
Driving directions from McCormick’s Window Cleaning to Balboa Park
Driving directions from Balboa Park to Kimball Pk