Planning a trip to San Diego?  Balboa Park is a must see with several museums, beautiful gardens including a Botanical Building, and for those avid hikers, there are several hiking trails around the park.  I will give you an insight to my favorite places to hang out at Balboa Park.  It takes several visits to enjoy the history of the park.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

I highly recommend visiting the pavilion at Balboa Park.  The park houses the world’s largest pipe organ in a fully outdoor venue. Free Sunday Concerts are held at the pavilion and my favorite December Nights is customary during Christmas Holidays at the park. I sure hope 2020 does not hinder our customary holiday concerts. Concerts are held outdoors so bring your hats and umbrellas in the summer, and wrap up in the winter. The pipe organ was created for the 1915 Exhibition by one of the wealthiest men in San Diego and still has free live performances to this day every Sunday at 2 pm.

Japanese Friendship Garden

This garden was formed as an expression of friendship between San Diego and Yokohama binding the two cultures together.  The unique experience from the Japanese Gardens attracts visitors from all over the world.

San Diego Museum of Arts

If you love fine art collection, you want to visit the San Diego Museum of Arts. The museum is known as the region’s finest and oldest art museum. According to Wikipedia, nearly half a million people visit the museum each year. Their collections include collections in English, Spanish, and Collection highlights by Italian Masters. The museum also hosts several events such as Art after Hours and Culture and Cocktails, which encourage attendees to sample the collection and enjoy the extended opening hours or partake in social events centered in the gallery.

As mentioned, you will need multiple days to soak up all the beautiful history Balboa Park has to offer. In addition to many more museums, Botanical Building, and The Lily Pond, San Diego Zoo is also part of Balboa Park. I recommend visiting on a weekday (earlier part of the week if possible), and be greeted by dozens of pink flamingos as you enter the zoo.

Balboa Park has awesome restaurants such as The Prado, a formal dining area great for families and special events. Panama 66 which is part of the San Diego Museum of Arts is a less formal option to grab a meal and a drink. This outdoor option opens up to a sculpture park where you get to enjoy the delicious food served. They serve delicious sandwiches.

Balboa Park is one of many San Diego Jewels with lots to see and many restaurants to choose from. Trying to explore the park in one day can be exhausting.  In order to enjoy every moment in the park, plan a weekend trip and enjoy the rest of San Diego. San Diego Zoo is a great addition to your trip as you plan to visit Balboa Park. The Zoo has maintained its reputation for being the best zoo in the world with over 1500 animals.

Some of my highlights with several visits to the park are:

  • Listening to the history of the Japanese Friendship Garden as we walked through it
  • Visiting over 15 museums – the museum of arts and San Diego Automotive were two of my favs
  • Riding the 1910 carousel
  • Admire thousands of plants in the Botanical Garden
  • Lunch at The Prado twice😊
  • Marston House – sits on 5 acres of landscape

There is so much to see. Plan your visit to Balboa Park. Airbnb is a great choice for lodging.  There are many great options to choose from in San Diego. Flying into San Diego International Airport? Travel Payouts has some great deals.

San Diego Museum of Arts