Home Issues Volume 5 Talk a walk in the park - Balboa Park
Talk a walk in the park - Balboa Park

Spend a day at Balboa Park and you will barely get a glimpse of all it has to offer – botanical gardens, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, a 1910 carousel, a miniature railroad and 15 museums. The evening offers stunning Spanish Revival architecture and fountains lit up in the night, plays in the Old Globe Theater and concerts at the magnificent Speckels Organ Pavilion outdoor stage.


In fact, you could spend your whole vacation and not get bored exploring the vast offerings of San Diego’s premier park. Plan one day just to explore the glorious gardens, most of which are free and open to the public 365 days a year. Be sure to ride the 1910 carousel and the antique miniature railroad. Take a stroll through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages to gain an understanding of other cultures. Come back another day with a list of your top choices of museums to visit. Most charge admission, but a passport is available for purchase that will get you into all the museums you can fit into a seven-day vacation, plus admission to San Diego Zoo. Plan a couple more days to explore the San Diego Zoo.


Forward-thinking civic leaders set aside land in 1868 for a city park. Over the years, it developed into a center for museums, gardens and cultural attractions.


If architecture inspires you, thank the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition, which gave impetus to the construction of many of the Spanish Renaissance style buildings that stand today. The California Tower and Dome, which houses the San Diego Museum of Man and the Cabrillo Bridge, spanning 1,500 feet, along with the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, were all designed specifically for the fair.


Stroll the beautifully landscaped grounds on 1,200 acres and you will be awed by some of the top gardens of the world. The park has been ranked among the top parks in the world and its Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden named among the top 12 rose gardens in the world.


Balboa Park also offers a vast array of performing arts, from the internationally acclaimed, Tony Award® –winning Old Globe to the oldest youth theatre program in the U.S. to free organ concerts every Sunday since 1915.


If you are looking for more strenuous activity, there are golf courses, a gymnasium, hiking and biking trails, tennis courts and play areas.


Gardens, performing arts, museums,

and a world famous zoo make up this

jewel of San Diego



Spreckels Organ at night

Balboa Park Fountains at twilight.

Balboa Park Inez Grant ParkerMemorial Rose Garden.

Photo by Brett Shoaf/Artistic Visuals

Photo by Brett Shoaf/Artistic Visuals

Photo by Brett Shoaf/Artistic Visuals

Park Information

Start your visit at the Balboa Park Visitors Center, located in the historic House of Hospitality building. To help guests decide how to spend their time in the park, the Visitor Center offers brochures, maps, audio tours and information about museum exhibits, special events, recreational activities and free guided park tours, transportation, dining options and more.

Visitor Center Hours: 9:30 am-4:30 pm daily (extended in the summer)

Phone: (619) 239-0512

Address: 1549 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101



Admissions Information

Admittance to the park is free, as is the Botanical building and gardens. Other attractions each charge admission fees independently.


Getting There

About a 15-minute drive from the Mission Beach area. Head south on Mission Boulevard; left on Mission Bay Drive; Take the ramp toward Sports Area Blvd; Merge onto West Mission Bay Drive, which becomes Sports Arena Blvd.; Merge onto I-8 East; Merge onto I-5 South; Merge onto CA-163 North via Exit 16 toward Escondido; Take the Quince St. exit, Exit 1B, toward Balboa Park; Turn Left onto El Prado.