10 Fun Things to Do at Balboa Park, San Diego

During a visit to San Diego, you will find a fantastic selection of attractions and activities to enjoy. These range from historic landmarks to performances, and from family-friendly attractions to outdoor venues. One local attraction that combines a diverse range of different features and activities in one destination is Balboa Park. This park has so much to offer, that it is impossible to fit in all the activities available in just one day. So, you may have to make a return visit to see and do the things that you missed on your first visit. Here is just ten of the things that you can do during a visit to Balboa Park.

1. Explore the Stunning Gardens

The primary reason why most people visit Balboa Park is to explore the beautiful gardens. There are many different gardens to explore during your visit, and each has its own theme. Just some of the gardens include the Japanese Friendship Garden, Palm Canyon, the Cactus Garden, Veterans Memorial Garden, Zoro Garden, the Australian Garden, and the Alcazar Garden. Each of the gardens is stunning in its own way, and you will see many beautiful and unusual flowers and trees.

2. Walk the Trails

Walking the trails will allow you to see various elements of the park along the way, and some even extend beyond the park boundaries so that you can see parts of San Diego. There are five trails to enjoy during a visit to Balboa Park. These include Golden Hill Trails Gateway, Marston Point Trails Gateway, Morley Field Trails Gateway, Park Boulevard Trails Gateway, and Sixth and Upas Trails Gateway. Taking a stroll along one of the trails is a chance to see the natural plants and the wildlife that have made the park their home.

3. Visit One of the Many Museums

If you think that a day at the park will consist of only wandering around admiring flowers and sitting on benches, then think again. Balboa Park boasts no less than 17 museums, art galleries, and cultural institutions. Each of these has a different focus, so there is something to suit all interests. Some of the best museums in the park include Marston House, Fleet Science Center, Mingei International Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Model Railroad Museum, San Diego Museum of Man, San Diego History Center, San Diego Automotive Museum, and San Diego Natural History Museum. There are also plans to open a Comic-Con Museum in the park. Some of the most interesting art galleries are the San Diego Art Institute, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Timken Museum of Art.

4. Go to the World-Famous San Diego Zoo

Balboa Park is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. It covers an area of 100 acres and is home to over 3,700 rare and endangered animals from more than 600 species. Furthermore, there are over 700,000 plants. The zoo is divided into sections according to bioclimatic zones, and there are also aviaries that house the birds. This is a fun and interesting day out for all the family that is also educational as you will learn about the different species and their natural habitats. Children find this a fascinating attraction to visit.

5. Enjoy a Performance

There are various events and performances held at the park throughout the year. There are multiple venues within the park that hold performances, including Starlight Bowl, Centro Cultural de la Raza, Civic Dance Arts, Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, San Diego Junior Theater, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, San Diego Youth Symphony, Spreckels Organ Pavilion, and The Old Globe. There are both indoor and outdoor performances held in Balboa Park.

6. Grab a Bite to Eat

There are some excellent eating establishments in the park, so you can grab a bite to eat during your visit. These vary from casual bites, coffee shops that also serve sweet treats, and restaurants that serve food from the grill. One of the nicest of these venues is The Prado at Balboa Park.

7. See the Landmarks

At various points around the park, there are interesting landmarks and many of these are historically significant. Some of the points of interest that you should take the time to see when you visit the park include Cabrillo Bridge, El Cid Statue, California Tower, Moreton Bay Fig Tree, and Sefton Plaza. Each of these points of interest has its own history or significance to the area. Visiting these landmarks is also a fantastic photo opportunity to commemorate your trip to the park.

8. Have Fun on a Ride

Another fantastic way to spend your time at Balboa Park is to have fun on one of the rides. Some examples of the rides include the carousel and the miniature park. If you are visiting the park with children, they will have an amazing time on these rides. However, they are just as fun for the adults in your family.

9. An Escape Room Experience

Escape rooms have become a popular activity over the past decade, but the escape room experience at Balboa Park is a little different from other escape rooms you may have visited previously. ‘Escape the Nat for… Botanic Panic!’ is an activity on the lower level of the Natural History Museum. Visitors must solve science-based clues using museum archives to try and escape.

10. Take Part in a Class

Located within Balboa Park is the World Beat Center. This is used as a venue for many events and classes. Just some of the classes in which you can participate include dance, drums, music, art, fitness, and yoga. There are classes for both adults and children in a program that changes throughout the year. In fact, there is something to suit all interests. If you are staying in San Diego for a while, this is a great way to get to know new people.

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