Balboa Park, San Diego

It’s hard to beat sunny San Diego as a vacation destination with its brilliant blue shores, inviting, sandy beaches, lively neighborhoods, and temperate weather, but in my humble opinion, Balboa Park is the city’s crowning jewel. Originally known as “City Park” this gem has an interesting history dating back to the mid 1800s and offers a vast array of activities. In this 1,200 acre park, you will find museums, gardens, shopping, cultural activities, interesting architecture and the famous San Diego Zoo; there’s something for everyone.

Botanical Building and Lily Pond

The Botanical Building and Lily Pond is a popular site in the park. It was built for the 1915 – 1916 Exposition, and is one of the largest lath structures in the world.

The Spanish Village Art Center is filled with small shops run by local artists. You will find a wide variety of hand crafted items including pottery, jewelry, and many paintings in different mediums.

Spanish Village

Not far from the Botanical Building is the Timken Museum of Fine Art. This free museum opened in 1965 and houses the private collections of the Timken family and the Putnam sisters. It has a unique collection of European and American art.

Sketch courtesy of theTravelsketcher

You’ll also find the famous California Tower in the park. Built in 1915 for the Panama-California Expo, this iconic tower combines several unique styles of architecture.

California Tower
Another one by theTravelsketcher

Also in the park is the Japanese Friendship Garden. This beautiful, twelve acre garden opened in 1991 with the purpose of educating people about Japanese culture. I spent a lot of time here!

I recently wrote about Scenic Byway 12 in Utah, and my sister, Nancy, pointed out that State Route 163, that travels through a portion of Balboa Park, is also a designated scenic highway. The park is certainly worthy of this designation.

A fun fact about Balboa Park – an orangutang named Ken Allen who lived in the zoo for over 25 years, was quite an escape artist and managed to free himself from his enclosure nine times! Several times he even strolled along pathways and posed for photos with visitors! I’m not sure I would want to come face to face with an orangutang!

I have been to San Diego only twice, but each time included a visit to the park. Balboa Park is a must see for everyone visiting San Diego. I hope to visit again someday.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens

Monet’s Garden

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As always, please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

Stay safe and healthy,


17 thoughts on “Balboa Park, San Diego

Add yours

  1. I love Balboa Park and I agree the history of the park is fascinating. The Japanese Garden is one of my favorite spots especially the Bonsai display.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your beautiful photos serve my hometown park well. It is, indeed, the crowning jewel of San Diego. And on the east side of the park, are miles of lovely (and work-out worthy) hiking trails through the canyons. Love!

    Liked by 1 person

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