Balboa Park

Balboa Park
Address: 1549 El Prado, Suite #1, San Diego, CA 92101 Tel: 619.239.0512

The Park covers a huge 1,200 acres and it's minutes away from downtown San Diego. We have over 85 cultural and recreational organizations here, including fifteen museums and various performing arts groups, like the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre and the world-famous Old Globe Theatre, which presents at least 14 productions and 550 performances a year. And speaking of "world famous," we're also home to the San Diego Zoo, where you can stroll around the 100-acre grounds, discovering colorful and exotic species of animals displayed in spacious natural habitats.

Many of the museums along the Park's celebrated El Prado walkway are housed in magnificent Spanish Colonial buildings, originally built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. It was the first time that this richly ornamented architectural style had ever been used in this country.


Botanical Building

Botanical Building
Botanical Building, at 250 feet long by 75 feet wide and 60 feet tall, was the largest wood lath structure in the world when it was built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. The building, located on the Prado, west of the Museum of Art, contains about 2,100 permanent tropical plants along with changing seasonal flowers. Open Fridays-Wednesdays (closed Thursdays and City holidays) from 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Lily Pond, just south of the Botanical Building, is an eloquent example of the use of reflecting pools to enhance architecture. The 193 by 43 foot pond and smaller companion pool were originally referred to as Las Lagunas de las Flores (The Lakes of the Flowers) and were designed as aquatic gardens. The pools contain exotic water lilies and lotus which bloom spring through fall.

Mingei International Museum

Mingei International Museum
All ages will enjoy the colorful and creative exhibits of toys, pottery, textiles, costumes, and gadgets from around the globe at the Mingei. Mingei is a special word increasingly used throughout the world for 'arts of the people.' It was coined by the revered scholar, the late Dr. Soetsu Yanagi, through combining the Japanese words for all people (min) and art (gei). His keen eye observed that many useful, pre-industrial articles made by unknown craftsmen were of a beauty seldom equaled by artists of modern societies. From questioning why this might be, he gained insight as to the nature of beauty embodied in objects that are integrally related to life and born of a state of mind not attached to a conscious idea of beauty or ugliness.
Admission: $5.
Opening hours: Tues.- Sun. 10 a.m. - 4 a.m.
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Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden
The Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego has roots in the 1915 World Exposition. After the Exposition, strong community interest kept the Japanese Tea Pavilion open for thirty years within Balboa Park, San Diego's Culture Center. With the development of San Diego's Sister City relationship with Yokohama in 1950, forty years of gift exchanges followed, kindling feelings of shared ideals represented by the Japanese Garden.
The Japanese Garden is a representation of the universe and its elements- fire in the form of a stone or iron lantern, earth in the form of stone, and water, air, plant, and animal life in their true forms. Gardens essentially divide between the dry landscape and the pond garden types. Even in a dry garden there is always some water, notably in dripping basins or suggested by waterfall chains from the down spouts. More Info...

Marston House Garden

Marston House Garden
Marston House Garden, a formal English Romantic-style garden with California influences, represents a slice of San Diego history. It is located on the grounds of the George White and Anna Gunn Marston House at 3525 Seventh Avenue. The landscaping was designed by the nationally known landscape architects George Cook, John Nolen, Thomas Church, and Hal Walker. Many of the garden's diverse trees and plants were planted prior to 1928 and have reached the beauty of full maturity. Kate O. Sessions was the horticultural consultant when the first trees were planted in 1906. The formal garden was designed by Hal Walker and William Templeton Johnson in 1927. It was installed for the Marston's 50th Anniversary. Open 365 days a year, free.

San Diego Museum of Art

Shipwreck Rapids
Known primarily for its Spanish Baroque and Renaissance paintings, including works by El Greco, Goya, Rubens, and van Ruisdael, San Diego's most comprehensive art museum also has strong holdings of South Asian art, Indian miniatures, and contemporary California paintings. The Museum continues to evolve and expand, bringing San Diego residents and visitors from around the world a wider selection of artworks and programming. Since 1988 the Museum has been the recipient of three major gifts: the Baldwin M. Baldwin Collection of over one hundred works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; and a world-renowned collection of paintings and related works from the Indian subcontinent, which is unique in its breadth and depth of material. Free docent tours are offered throughout the day.
Admission: $8 ($10 - $12 for special exhibits).
Opening hours: Tues. - Sun. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (till 9 p.m. on Thurs.)
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The California Tower

The California Tower
A beautiful reflection of San Diego architecture's early Mission and Mediterranean roots, the 200-foot tower of the California Building, home of the Museum of Man, serves as Balboa Park's focal point. The romantic, richly decorated monument resembles the Tepotzotlan Cathedral near Mexico City. Blue and gold tiles atop the dome were designed by National City's Walter Nordhoff from authentic Moorish tiles. Decoration pays homage to Mexico and Spain: busts of Philip III, Carlos III, Portola and Cabrillo, along with coats of arms from both countries. In the tradition of tiny Mediterranean towns, the tower is the park's point of orientation, a perfect place to meet friends, or to rejoin them after visits to separate museums. From most anywhere, you can spy its colorful dome and the dramatic decoration standing in bold relief, shadows changing as the sun moves across the sky.

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden
Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden is south of the footbridge that crosses Park Boulevard near the Natural History Museum. This is an award-winning All-America Rose Selection Display Garden containing over 2,400 rose bushes in 180 varieties. Recently honored by the World Federation of Rose Societies as one of the top 12 public rose gardens in the world, one of only 2 in the United States to receive this distinction. The garden is in peak bloom during April and May, although many roses are in bloom from March through December. This garden is one of the most popular wedding spots in the Park. Open 365 days a year, free.

Aerospace Museum

Address: 72001 Pan American Plaza
Telephone: 619.234.8291
Aerospace Museum
The Aerospace Museum covers five centuries of aviation history, demonstrating the remarkable progress of manned flight with more than 60 aircraft and space vehicles on display. The exclusive exhibit, Apollo 9 Has Landed, features the only Apollo Command Module flown in space west of the Rockies. The San Diego Aerospace Museum is housed in the Ford Motor Building built in 1935 for the California Pacific Exposition.
Admission: $9.
Open Daily 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
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Museum of Photographic Arts

Address: 1649 El Prado, Casa de Balboa
Telephone: 619.238.7559
Museum of Photographic Art
Since its founding in 1983, the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) has been devoted to collecting, conserving and exhibiting the entire spectrum of the photographic medium. The museum's endeavors consistently address cultural, historical and social issues through its exhibitions and public programs (all of which are described in detail throughout this site). MoPA is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a member-supported, private, nonprofit institution. Additional support for museum programs is provided by the City of San Diego under a program managed by its Commission for Arts and Culture, the Community Enhancement Program of the County of San Diego, as well as the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Admission: $6 for museum, $5 for theater.
Opening hours: Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. (til 9 p.m. on Thurs.)
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Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Address: 1875 El Prado
Telephone: 619.238.1233
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
With exhibits to touch, virtual reality to experience, films to see and fun to be had, The Fleet is an educational, entertaining experience for visitors of all ages. We feature five galleries of exciting, hands-on science exhibits, as well as major traveling exhibitions. Our 76-foot IMAX Dome Theater, the first in the world, presents the biggest films on the planet, plus planetarium shows and more. Its unique configuration wraps the audience in images and provides the illusion of being suspended in space. Ride DEEP SEA, the motion simulator ride, and plunge into the unexplored world at the bottom of the ocean. Our two virtual reality experiences employ cutting-edge technology that puts YOU in the action. Plus, the Nierman Challenger Learning Center offers the experience of living and working in space.
Admission: Gallery exhibits $6.75; Gallery exhibits and one IMAX film $11.50; Gallery exhibits and two IMAX films $15.
Opening hours: Mon. - Thurs. 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Fri. - Sat. 9:30 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sun. 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. (hrs vary seasonally; call ahead).
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Museum of Art

Address: 1450 El Prado, Casa de Balboa
Telephone: 619.232.7931
Museum of Art
Known primarily for its Spanish Baroque and Renaissance paintings, including works by El Greco, Goya, Rubens, and van Ruisdael, San Diego's most comprehensive art museum also has strong holdings of South Asian art, Indian miniatures, and contemporary California paintings. The Museum continues to evolve and expand, bringing San Diego residents and visitors from around the world a wider selection of artworks and programming. Since 1988 the Museum has been the recipient of three major gifts: the Baldwin M. Baldwin Collection of over one hundred works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; and a world-renowned collection of paintings and related works from the Indian subcontinent, which is unique in its breadth and depth of material. Free docent tours are offered throughout the day.
Admission: $8 ($10 - $12 for special exhibits).
Opening hours: Tues. - Sun. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (till 9 p.m. on Thurs.)
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Automotive Museum

Address: 2080 Pan American Plaza, #12
Telephone: 619.231.2886
San Diego Automotive Museum
The original idea of creating an automotive museum in Balboa Park came from Briggs Cunningham, a renowned automobile collector and racer. The idea circulated for many years until an inspired group of local automotive enthusiasts propelled the idea forward. In 1979 the San Diego City Council first considered the issue and in 1980 they gave unanimous approvel to the museum and granted a long term lease for one of the historic buildings in the jewel of San Diego - Balboa Park. After spending approximately $1 million renovating and upgrading the building, the San Diego Automotive Museum opened in December of 1988. Since then millions of local auto enthusiasts and tourists from all over the world have visited our world-class collection. Today the museum stands as a living tribute to the automobile and what it has meant to our culture. The San Diego Automotive Museum is a non-profit corporation under section 501(c3).
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Natural History Museum

Address: 1788 El Prado
Telephone: 619.232.3821
San Diego Natural History Museum
Located next to the main fountain in Balboa Park, the San Diego Natural History Museum is the place to find dinosaur bones and get a close up look at insects, birds and organic matter that make our outside world so interesting.
Renovated in 2001, a new wing has doubled the museum's original 65,000 square feet of floor space to about 150,000 square feet. With its old "L" shape transformed into a "U" that encloses the atrium on three sides, the museum now has two entrances instead of one. The familiar entrance on the Prado, opposite the fountain, remains. There is a new north-facing entrance opening directly into the atrium. The museum's large-format picture theater is directly off the atrium and features a variety of movies including the popular "Ocean Oasis" movie, which takes visitors on a scuba adventure through the waterways around Southern California and Baja California. Beneath the atrium is the new 8,500-square-foot Legler Benbough Exhibition Hall. It is home to the traveling exhibits, like the popular T.Rex exhibition which allowed kids to walk around dinosaurs and trees towering overhead.
Admission: $8.
Open daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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Model Railroad Museum

Address: 1649 El Prado
Telephone: 619.696.0199
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
At 24,000 sq. ft., the museum is the largest indoor model railroad display in the world. The individual HO and N scale layouts are among largest of their type. Construction of the model railroads is accomplished by volunteer club members (approximately. 320). Each club is responsible for the design, construction, funding, and operation of its exhibit. Criteria for membership in the individual clubs is determined by each club. Check Model Railroad Clubs for additional information.
Since its opening to the public in March of 1982, the museum has had over two million visitors. The museum has played host to numerous conventions, organizations, school groups, and community functions. If your organization would like to inquire about museum availability for social functions, the recently completed Pacific Beach Model Railroad Club Room is available for receptions, birthday parties and other gatherings.
The museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation recognized as a tax exempt educational institution by the state and federal governments.
Admission: $5.
Opening hours: Tues. - Fri. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sat. - Sun. 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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Museum of Men

Address: 1350 El Prado
Telephone: 619.239.2001
Museum of Men
Explore the mystery, beauty and exitement of San Diego's only anthropological museum. One of the nation's great collections of artifacts, folk art, and archaeological finds is located here. These treasures help to unfold stories of the past - of hunters creating the first spears and arrows, potters molding fragile ceramic vessels, weavers patterning vibrantly colored textiles, and artisans blending forms and symbols. We invite you to share the adventure and excitement in discovering the heritage of mankind.
The San Diego Museum of Man is an educational, non-profit corporation founded in 1915 to collect and preserve for posterity the life and history of humankind.
Admission: $6.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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Hotels Balboa Park

Address: 1 Market Place, San Diego CA, 92101 Check Rates
Hotel Chain: Hyatt
Our prime Waterfront location is adjacent to Seaport Village and near the San Diego Convention Center. With easy access to San Diego Zoo, Sea World®, historic Old Town, Balboa Park, golf, tennis and beaches. A resort-like setting with shopping, entertainment, dining; makes our hotel the best possible choice for you when visiting America's finest city. More info
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Downtown Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego $$$$ Rating
Red Line Address: 555 West Ash Street, San Diego CA, 92101 Check Rates
Hotel Chain: Best Western
The Best Western Bayside Inn is an ideal setting for business, meeting and social events, as well as a perfect location for the leisure traveler. We are situated in the heart of Downtown San Diego, only three blocks from the San Diego Bay.The Best Western is an enjoyable walk to such sights as the Convention Center (1 mile away), Civic Center, Seaport Village, San Diego Trolley, the Star of India and Harbor Tours Excursions. More info
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Downtown Best Western Bayside Inn $$ Rating
Red Line Address: 840 A Street, San Diego CA, 92101 Check Rates
Hotel Chain: Best Western
The newly renovated Best Western Cabrillo Garden Inn is a charming Spanish-styled Inn located in the heart of downtown San Diego. Surrounded by world-class financial towers, the Inn nestles within its own lush flora, offering the most exquisite ambiance of residential warmth along with the convenience of prosperous businesses, sports, entertainment and historic districts. More info
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Downtown Best Western Cabrillo Garden Inn $$$ Rating
Red Line Address: 1531 Pacific Highway, San Diego CA, 92101 Check Rates
Hotel Chain: Hampton Inn
Located just minutes from the San Diego Convention Center and the Gaslamp Quarter; travelers may take the complimentary shuttle to and from the airport. Just around the corner, you can hop on a trolley for Old Town, Seaport Village, Gaslamp Quarter, the Convention Center, Mission or Fashion Valley mall. A two-block stroll puts you in the heart of little Italy or the Embarcadero along San Diego Bay, where you may enjoy spectacular sunsets. More info
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Downtown Hampton Inn by Hilton San Diego Downtown $$$ Rating
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Restaurants Balboa Park

Address: 565 5th Avenue, San Diego CA, 92101 Make Reservation
Blue Point
Blue Point was the first seafood and oyster bar to open in the Gaslamp over a decade ago, and it remains one of the very best. The restaurant pays special attention to interpreting seafood classics in fresh ways that delight all the senses. Specialties extend to a selection of steak and chops, so that both the menu and interior call to mind an old fashioned supper club with nautical flair. A striking and impressively well-stocked antique bar completes the relaxed elegance that keeps Blue Point on the Gaslamp’s favored list. More ...
Location Cuisine Price Service Food Rating
Downtown Seafood $$$ Excellent Excellent Ratings
Red Line Address: 675 L Street, San Diego CA, 92101 Make Reservation
McCormick & Schmick's
Each one of McCormick & Schmick’s restaurants throughout the United States is designed to create an environment that is unique and welcoming; the one in Downtown San Diego is no different. Located in the Omni Hotel on the corner of L and 7th Street the restaurant is connected via skybridge to Petco Park. The ever-changing menu features the highest quality of steak, like the tender aged Filet Mignon as well as seafood choices from the Pacific Rim, Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Also, the award winning bar food is just as satisfying as the main entrees. Indulge in classic favorites like the McCormick & Schmick’s Cheeseburger or the Black Mussels with roasted tomatoes and basil. Visit during Happy Hour to enjoy the bar’s specialty cocktails and food options for a great price. More ...
Location Cuisine Price Service Food Rating
Downtown Seafood $$$ Excellent Excellent Ratings
Red Line Address: 628 5th Avenue, San Diego CA, 92101 Make Reservation
La Fiesta
La Fiesta is a Mexican restaurant located in the heart of the Gaslamp. Just a few blocks away from the MTS trolley station it is an easy commute, and well worth the trip. Patrons can find themselves in a relaxed setting that is acceptable for all ages. The decoration involves both an elegant dining setting and a more casual area that includes a full bar. The margaritas are big hits so it is a great place to come for a drink after work with. All the food is served fresh and original as Chef Raul Degadillo puts a San Diego spin on traditional dishes. Enter hungry and leave full. They even have DJs spinning a mix of Salsa, Reggaeton, and Top 40 from Thursday to Saturday. More ...
Location Cuisine Price Service Food Rating
Downtown Mexican $$ Good Excellent Ratings
Red Line Address: 329 Market Street, San Diego CA , 92101 Make Reservation
Royal India
Royal India is where to go when you want to dine like kings and queens. The Gaslamp area restaurant serves authentic Northern Indian cuisine in a refreshing, elegant setting. An outdoor patio offers prime views of downtown foot traffic, while inside, the tall ceilings and open space give the feel of a modern palace, complete with regal décor imported from India. Ornate chandeliers cast an elegant glow, while a cascading waterfall offers a backdrop of serenity. The menu is as rich as its surroundings, with flavorful curries, tandoori kababs, and a tempting array of fresh tandoor-baked breads. If you’re unable to make your mind up about the menu, visit during lunch or on Monday evenings, when over 20 dishes are offered buffet-style. More ...
Location Cuisine Price Service Food Rating
Downtown Indian $$ Good Excellent Ratings
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