Exploring Balboa Park in San Diego

Exploring Balboa Park in San Diego

In the heart of San Diego,  Balboa Park is filled with so many wonderful attractions, fascinating architecture, world class museums and the very popular San Diego zoo. You can easily find something that will suit your interest in visiting the park solo, travel with friends or with the family. If your into culture, history and beautiful architecture, then exploring Balboa Park in San Diego is where you should head out to do and see some cool attractions in the city.


 Exploring Balboa Park in San Diego Zoo

Here are some of the fun things to do in Balboa Park


Exploring Balboa Park in San Diego Zoo Koala bears


Exploring the San Diego Zoo

The top attraction and must visit attraction in Balboa Park is definitely the San Diego Zoo which is absolutely breathtaking. You should allocate at least a half day to full day to explore every facet of the zoo which is wonderful for children to adults. For a quick understanding of the zoo layout, you should try taking a bus tour or enjoying the views from above on the sky tram to get a feel of the entire park.



San Diego zoo views from above

San Diego zoo views from above




Architecture at El Prado Exploring Balboa Park in San Diego


Balboa Park Architecture and history

Many of Balboa Park’s historic cultural and architectural buildings survived from the Panama/California Exposition in  and the California Pacific International Exposition and created a some architectural landmarks placed in the National Register of Historic Places.  These gorgeous buildings reflect the Spanish Colonial Revival style that runs through the length of the main promenade called El Prado and now houses many of the city’s impressive art museums, historic centers and even a fun model railroad center. Surrounding these wonderful buildings are beautiful walkways, fountains, a botanical garden and an impressive bandstand, Globe theater and other public venues worth exploring in the park.


Public art on Display at Balboa Park



Public art at Balboa Park in San Diego


Walking along the El Prado promenade



Architecture and public spaces Exploring Balboa Park in San Diego


Visiting the Museums at Balboa Park

Along the busy El Prado promenade, you will find most of the major museums located in Balboa Park. These include a variety of arts oriented venues including: San Diego Museum of Art, Mingei International Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego Art Institute. Other popular museums located in the park cover different facets of human interest to sciences and include: San Diego Museum of Man, Rueben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego History Center, San Diego Auto Museum and the San Diego Air and Space Museum. You can spend days enjoying these venues and you can also get a pass for visiting many of these attractions with the San Diego Pass.


Museums and art at Balboa Park in San Diego


Checking out the popular model train museum at Balboa Park


Model train Museums at Balboa Park in San Diego

Photo exhibits at the Museum of Photographic Arts



Museum of Photographic arts at Balboa Park in San Diego

Fabulous displays at Mingei International Museum



Mingei International Museum at Balboa Park in San Diego


Balboa Park Gardens

Balboa Park is a fantastic area for garden lovers looking to explore many of the parks landmark gardens starting with the Botanical Building and lily pond right off the El Prado. Housing a series of tropical plants and exotic flowers, the Botanical Building is a photo worthy spot to visit in the park. Other significant gardens to explore in the park include:  The Japanese Friendship garden, Alcazar garden, Rose garden, Desert garden, Children peace garden. When your tired of visiting museums and checking out all the busy venues in the park – the gardens are a more relaxed and quiet environment from all the busy venues where most of the tourists flock.


Botanical Building and pond at Balboa Park in San Diego


Tropical flowers inside the Botanical Building


Interior of the Botanical Building and pond at Balboa Park in San Diego

Exploring Japanese friendship garden


Japanese friendship garden at Balboa Park in San Diego


Japanese Friendship garden from above


Japanese friendship garden at Balboa Park in San Diego


Details on visiting Balboa Park

For information on visiting the park, museums and other attractions at Balboa Park, check out the website here for more details and information

Go San Diego card – Take advantage of free attractions and Admission to the most of the museums in San Diego and other attractions including discounts for many popular attractions in the city

Hotel locations close to Balboa Park

Check out these hotel locations here that are located around the Balboa park area and downtown for reviews and updated prices to these locations

Check out these Trip Advisor special deals and reviews here for current prices and stays in San Diego.

Balboa Park zoo – For latest prices and information check this website for more information and visiting hours

* For hotel transportation pick up and all day admission to Balboa Park via Viator, check here for latest prices and information.



Balboa park San Diego zoo and polar bears

Balboa park – San Diego zoo and polar bears


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Exploring Balboa Park in San Diego


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12 Responses to Exploring Balboa Park in San Diego

  1. Rhonda Albom July 1, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    I did not realize there were so many museums at Balboa Park. I am fascinated by some of the sculptures in your photos.

  2. Divyakshi Gupta June 29, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

    You have it covered in a nutshell! Though I dont really prefer zoos but the Koala looks really happy! I d love to spend the day at the Japanese gardens, the heritage structures and the museums 🙂 totally my kind of thing!
    Love the street art too:)

  3. Anneklien Meanne Casica June 29, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    That park looks amazing to explore, a little zoo as well as beautiful building structures- looks like European building, surely a great day out with families for a picnic by the garden.

  4. Joe June 29, 2017 at 5:49 am #

    The zoo looks great, but the main attractions seem to be the architecture and the gardens for me. Both look beautiful, and a lovely play to immerse yourself in. So many different gardens to choose from, and your pictures ceratinly capture their sense of tranquility 🙂

  5. Sandy N Vyjay June 28, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

    Balboa Park looks really fascinating. The animals in the zoo too look happy which is so nice to see. I am particulary fascinated by the Japanese garder, it looks so ethereal and surreal. In all the Balboa Park promises some great times to the entire family and makes for a great weekend getaway.

  6. Carole Terwilliger Meyers June 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

    I do love Balboa Park. Looks like you hit all the highlights. My favorites are the Botanical Building and the miniature train museum, and, of course, the zoo–did you see the pandas?

    • Noel June 28, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

      The pandas were so hard for me to get to that particular area, wish I had more time, but I only had one full day to explore the park which really is not enough time to explore all the fascinating museums, gardens and the zoo.

  7. Suzanne Fluhr June 28, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    Balboa Park is such a municipal treasure for San Diego. It can easily consume 2 days (or more) of a trip. Some years ago, I visited the Museum of Man and have some positiv memories of it. As usual, your photos do it justice, so I’ve started a California pinterest board!

    • Noel June 28, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

      Awesome, thanks for commenting and pinning this post on your new board, I appreciate it.

  8. harshad June 27, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

    Amazing piece of blog. i am wondered by the pictures you have shared. bookmarked for next travel. Thanks

  9. Anne Woodyard (@MusicandMarkets) June 26, 2017 at 9:16 am #

    How very inviting – makes me consider a return to San Diego just to enjoy the park for a day!

    • Noel June 26, 2017 at 9:43 am #

      It is a wonderful park to enjoy with something for everyone to explore historic, cultural or fun places to visit, thanks for commenting.

I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our discussion with any comment you would like to add

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