This 1200 acre urban cultural park in San Diego, California, is the home of museums, cultural institutions, the San Diego Zoo, restaurants, sports facilities, and recreation opportunities (courtesy, photographer Joann DiBona/San Diego Conventions and Visitors Bureau)

San Diego's Balboa Park was founded in 1868 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977. It is a one-of-a-kind urban cultural park with museums, theaters, shops, restaurants, and gardens. A majority of the park's sites are on El Prado, a long street running through the center of the 1,200-acre park. Here you can find a wide variety of museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the San Diego Museum of Man, the San Diego Art Institute, and the Natural History Museum. Be sure to check out the Lily Pond and the Bea Evenson Fountain along the way. The San Diego Air & Space Museum is next to the promenade and a sure bet for fans of aviation and military history. There are also a variety of beautiful gardens to explore, including Alcazar Garden, Cactus Garden, Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, Botanical Garden and Zoro Garden. One the world's best zoos, the 100-acre San Diego Zoo, is also located in the park. Music and theater buffs should hit the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, which contains the world's largest outdoor pipe organ; the Old Globe Theater (a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theater); or the Casa Del Prado Theater, which showcases family-friendly performances such as Disney's Geppetto & Sons and Fame. -Andrew Robinton

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Expert Review of Balboa Park

Romance Review of Balboa Park

Away Travel Expert: David Swanson
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RomanceExpert Rating 5.0 out of 5 Recommended for:
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RomanceExpert Tips & Helpful Hints
  • Balboa Park also encompasses the San Diego Zoo. Established in 1916, this celebrated facility sprawls over 100 acres of lush canyons and mesas. Many of the animals are housed in naturalistic enclosures with exotic flora from around the world. You'll want to allow most of a day to adequately explore.
  • Balboa Park is one of San Diego's most popular locations for weddings—the only problem is choosing from the dozens of options, both indoors and out. From the House of Hospitality and Prado restaurant to the ornate outdoor organ pavilion and Craftsman-style Marston House, there is a perfect venue for weddings of any size or budget. See for more details.
Situated barely a mile from downtown, Balboa Park is San Diego's crown jewel, an oasis in the heart of the city that represents the largest urban cultural park in the country. The initial development of Balboa Park was for world's fairs in 1915-16

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1549 El Prado
San Diego, California 92101
Parking: Daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended summer hours
Price: Free admission

Visitor Information

Telephone Number: 619-239-0512
Neighborhood: Downtown - Centre City
Price Information: Free admission
The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Away Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.