Balboa Park has enough arts, culture, and attractions to fill days, weeks, months! But sometimes you only have an hour or two. If your time is limited, use this tour to find Balboa Park highlights.
A stop at the Visitor Center enhances any Balboa Park trip. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteers can help you decide where you want to go and the best way to get there.
Drop into the Timken Museum of Art, a free museum in the Park. You can find works by European masters, 19th-century American art, and the only Rembrandt painting on public display in San Diego.
However much time you have in the Park, the California Tower is a must-see. Often used as a symbol of Balboa Park and even the entire city, the Tower recently re-opened for tours that offer panoramic views of San Diego.
Take a stroll through the Alcazar Garden, one of the most photogenic spots in the Park. Colorfully tiled fountains and neatly trimmed gardens sit in the shadow of the California Tower.
A tropical oasis, Palm Canyon boasts 58 species of palm trees. Thanks to the wooden footbridge, you can take in a quick view from above or descend into the Canyon for a more immersive experience.
Around the world in 80 days? How about 8 minutes? The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages are a set of 32 houses, each representing a nation, that promote multicultural goodwill and understanding. Stop in for food, crafts, and programs related to different countries' cultures.
Music fan? See the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Brothers John and Adolph Spreckels gifted the Organ to the city in 1914 with the condition that all organ concerts be free and open to the public.
As you walk back up to the Plaza de Panama, you'll come upon a 23-foot bronze statue of a triumphant man riding a horse. This sculpture, El Cid Campeador portrays Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a Castilian nobleman and military leader in medieval Spain. El Cid is one of the most photographed sculptures in the Park.
Be sure to stop by Nikigator by Niki de Saint Phalle. This colorful mosaic sculpture outside the Mingei International Museum is beloved by kids and adults alike.
Grab some on-the-go snacks from the food carts in the Plaza de Panama. Hot dogs, ice cream, nachos, and more. Hungry yet?
The Balboa Park Botanical Building appeals to more than just gardeners. It's a free spot to relax in natural beauty and view more than 2,100 plants including cycads, ferns, and orchids.
Venture down into the Zoro Garden in search of butterflies! The natural area contains larvae and nectar plants needed to support the winged beauties.
Spend a few minutes watching the Bea Evanson Fountain. An anemometer, or wind speed reader, controls the fountain, causing the water height to rise and fall depending on the breeze.
Take time to stop and smell the roses at the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. The garden is home to over 1,600 roses of 130 varieties.
Get ready to feel awed at the Morten Bay Fig Tree. This formidable tree is the second largest, when measured around the trunk, in the state of California.
Stroll around the colorful tiles in the Spanish Village Art Center. The cozy cottages in the plaza host 37 art studios and galleries that contain the work of over 200 artisans and craftspeople.
Finish your quick trip with a ride on the Balboa Park Carousel. Built in 1910, all but two pairs of animals are hand carved and the murals surrounding the upper portion of the carousel are hand painted. Imagine all the people who've enjoyed riding this carousel in the past century!
Glad you got to spend a little time in Balboa Park. You fit an awful lot into a short time! Hope you can come back soon and see more.
Check individual websites for hours and pricing. Get more out of your visits with an Explorer Pass