United States

A Couple Hours in Balboa Park, San Diego

Stepping out of my normal routine a bit with some US travel! I was in San Diego for work and my brother drove down from LA to hang with me for the day. Since we didn’t have a ton of time, we tried to just stick to one area of the city. We decided on Balboa Park!

Balboa Park is a huge area of San Diego that is a great place to spend a day (or two!). It contains several museums, gardens and even the famous San Diego Zoo! I won’t be talking about the zoo today. Instead, I’m going to show you what else you can do inside the park!

Make sure to get to the park early enough if you plan on going to the museums. We had planned to go to the Science Museum but got there too late in the day to make it worth the money. We ended up checking out the Museum of Photographic Arts which was really great! This is not a large museum so it was easily digestible in about 1-2 hours. The Seeing is Believing? exhibit is open through October 29th and was one of my favorite parts. It starts with the origins of photography all the way through viewing 3D images with special goggles! There are a lot of things your brain does in combination with vision and it was so interesting to learn more about.

Balboa Park

Keep strolling down the main avenue in the park to see all of the gorgeous Spanish style buildings!

Balboa Park

Make sure to stop at the Botanical Building! This view below with the lily pond in the foreground is the most photographed scene in the park! You can’t tell from here but we had to wait for others to clear out before we could take our own shots. The Botanical Building was built in 1915 for an exposition and is one of the world’s largest lath structures. In case you’re like me and don’t know what lath is, it’s thin wood strips. So, this is open to the air because it is just wood slats and no glass. So cool!

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

You can see the lath structure better in the photo below.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

There are tons of other gardens around the park which we didn’t make it to: a cactus garden, native plant garden, desert garden and rose garden. We did drive by them and I would recommend adding them to your itinerary if you have time! We did find this really cool tree (I think it’s a strangler fig) down a hill from the fountain above. Just make sure you don’t get caught up in it like my brother did ­čśë

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Last but not least, find a place to stop and watch the sunset! Hopefully, it will be as beautiful as the one we saw!

Balboa Park

That’s how we spent our quick trip to Balboa Park! I hope you enjoyed it. I would love to go back and explore more and see the places we missed. Have you ever been to the park? What’s your favorite part?

Balboa Park, San Diego

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  • Reply Happy Hour, July 2017: Hitting the Beach with a Cocktail or Flying to Europe for $100? - Sparkle in her Suitcase

    […] really, I might have to actually change out of my swimsuit and check out Balboa Park, this post makes it sound really cool. Have you been? Tell me your […]

    July 28, 2017 at 6:59 PM
  • Reply Agness of aTukTuk

    Balboa park seems so picturesque! Is one day enough to explore it, Erin?

    August 21, 2017 at 6:32 PM
    • Reply duemidwest

      Hi Agness! I think if you are just doing the park attractions, a day is enough. If you want to do the zoo as well, I would do that on a separate day!

      August 21, 2017 at 9:05 PM
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  • Reply Jay Artale

    We’ve been to San Diego many times. It’s such a small and compact town compared to Los Angeles, and a welcome change to visit and get away from all the noise and traffic. We haven’t ventured to Balboa Park before, but the botanical gardens look like an amazing place to explore.

    May 14, 2020 at 1:11 PM
  • Reply Jan

    I have not visited San Diego but heard a lot only about its famous zoo! Balboa park sounds like a hidden gem and a great place to visit. I would love to see the botanical gardens and the photography museum. Love the picture of the strangler fig tree! ­čÖé

    May 15, 2020 at 5:35 AM
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