Balboa Park might just be San Diego‘s most famous attraction.
Spend any time there, and it’s easy to see why.
This 1,200-acre park offers something for everyone with gardens, museums, and even the San Diego Zoo on its grounds. If that doesn’t convince you to stop at Balboa Park during your next trip to San Deigo, hopefully, we can do it with this post.
We’re going to tell you everything you need to know to get the most out of exploring San Deigo’s Balboa Park. From its history to all the things you can do and see there, we’ve got you covered.
Ready to start exploring?
Balboa Park’s History
The history of Balboa Park goes back before it was even a part of the United States!
In the early 1830’s, back when this area was part of Mexico, the government set aside this tract of land as a park for public use. This land was ceded back to the United States after the Mexican-American War, and local officials kept the area a park.
It’s hosted some big events since then. Much of the current design of Balboa Park was made for the Panama–California Exposition of 1915. Since then it’s also hosted California Pacific International Exposition and even served as a Marine barracks during both World Wars.
Today, the history of the park lives on with over 12 million visitors spending time here each year.
Things to Do
You could easily spend a bunch of days trying to see everything that Balboa Park has to offer. Here are a few of our favorites.
Balboa Park is home to 16 museums with another, the Comic-Con Museum in the works!
The San Diego Museum of Art is one of the more popular options, with an extensive collection of Spanish art that attracts visitors from all over the world.
The Museum of Photographic Arts is one of only three in the United States that focuses solely on photography as the medium.
For a great look at Latino and Native American art, the Centro Cultural de la Raza is a must-see museum.
The San Deigo Zoo, one of the best in the world, is located on the grounds of Balboa Park. It was one of the first exhibits featured Panama–California Exposition of 1915 and still thrives today.
For a bit of an old-timey feel, you don’t want to miss out on the Balboa Park Carousel. It was first built in New York in 1910 and has been here in the park since 1922.
The Old Globe Theater is a replica of the famous Globe Theater in England that housed William Shakespeare’s plays. Today, it hosts over two dozen plays and musicals each year.
One of the most photographed features of Balboa Park is the Botanical Building. This was another creation from the 1915 exhibition and is one of the most unique features in the country.
The Japanese Friendship Garden is another feature that is unique to Balboa Park. It celebrates a special relationship between San Deigo and its sister city, Yokohama, Japan.
Don’t Miss Balboa Park
In this post, we’ve only featured a handful of the attractions and activities you can enjoy while in Balboa Park. So spend some time here, and you can check out the rest for yourself! You won’t regret it!