“An afternoon in the park,” has a nice sound to it, doesn’t it. Balboa Park is one of my favorite places in all of San Diego. As kids we played in the park about once a week during the summer. The original park, set aside in the mid 1800’s, consisted of about 1,400 acres. In the early 1900’s that much of the initial infrastructure was put in. The park had an active program of planting trees and plant varieties – many of these original trees are still in the park. In 1915-16 the park, now knows as “Balboa Park” hosted the Panama-California Exposition. This World’s Fair celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and was the event that drove the building of many of the structures in the park. The San Diego Zoo was also started during this expo. The California Pacific International Expo was held in 1935-1936 and further helped to develop the park. For more detail on the history of the park, including buildings and museums, visit the Balboa Park website
We spent an afternoon wandering throughout the park, the weather was beautiful and the park was not too crowded. To get the most out of the park, take your time and explore. The park is full of small side gardens and pathways.
There are several museums, but also fun smaller ones – the Model Train museum is just one of the smaller ones that is worth exploring. A small list of the museums the park hosts includes the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, the Natural History Museum, as well as the San Diego Air and Space Museum. The original Air and Space Museum was destroyed by a fire in 1978 but the new museum has rebuilt their collection and if you are an aviation nut – like I am – it is worth visiting. The Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindbergh s plane, was built in San Diego. The park also hosts The Old Globe Theater. It is worth checking the schedule to see if one of the plays interests you. The outdoor theater is a wonderful way to spend an evening.
If you enjoy gardens, the Botanical Building is worth visiting, it is closed on Thursdays and open 10:00 to 4:00 the rest of the week. Throughout the park take time to notice the trees and plants. The collection is varied. The key to enjoying the park is take your time and just wander. You can spend an hour or two or a few days if you visit the museums.
We did not take time to visit the San Diego Zoo this trip due to time constraints. This is the zoo I grew up with and honestly, it spoiled me. As a kid, we roamed the zoo on a regular basis. My hints for the Zoo are this. First, arrive early to get ahead of the crowd. I recommend taking the bus tour first thing to give you an overview of the Zoo and plan which exhibits you want to see more closely. Take a look at the programs available and decide if any catch your attention. Put the hipppo exhibit, polar bear, panda and koala on your list. If you have additional time the San Diego and you enjoy animals, look into the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in north county.
Other Posts about San Diego: