Balboa Park is a great way to spend the day in San Diego. There is so much to see and do from gardens, to architecture, to museums and more! Plus, the best part is almost everything is FREE!
You Have to Go
When we were looking at spending time at Balboa Park, I had a hard time finding anything about the different things to do there. So I had kind of written it off, but it is totally worth a visit! There is so much to walk around and see that you can see a good amount in an hour or two, or enjoy some hiking and spend all day.
We came in off of El Prado so that we could go over and see the Cabrillo Bridge. This bridge is gorgeous, so make sure you don’t miss it. We parked in the Alcazar Garden Parking Lot, which made it easy to walk to everything on my list. Parking was super busy, but there were multiple lots, so you should be able to find a spot.
We first walked up towards the San Diego Museum of Man & California Tower. We had seen them from the Skyfari skyride at the San Diego Zoo and wanted to see these buildings up close. The architecture on these buildings is gorgeous. Stop by the Old Globe for a different architecture vibe.
Plaza de Panama Fountain
Next stop head towards El Prado street and the Plaza de Panama Fountain. There are multiple gardens and cool buildings along the way.
If you keep walking down El Prado, on your right is the visitor center, where you can stop in and get a map of all the buildings, museums, and hours they are open. Many are closed on Mondays and close early on weekdays so make sure to check ahead if there is a museum you really want to go to.
Art & Architecture
There are so many different mixes of architecture when walking around each building. Many of the buildings were designed in the early 1900’s. Balboa Park website has the history of each of the buildings in Balboa Park.
The Lily Pond looking towards the Botanical Building was my absolute favorite picture spot in the whole park. There was a line of people waiting to take pictures here, for good reason, IT IS BEAUTIFUL!
Bea Evenson Fountain
Keep walking down El Prado street and right past Lilly Pond is Casa del Prado and eventually Bea Evenson Fountain. This is another great place to stop for a photo op, there were many people taking professional photos here, so you know it is a prime spot. Spreckels Organ Pavilion is also a cool building to check out.
From here there are many museums you can go into and explore and also tons of hiking trails. Make sure to head to Palm Canyon to get some beautiful pictures of the giant Palm Trees and their roots.
Old Cactus Garden
From here you can hike up the trail towards the Old Cactus Garden, while it was pretty, i’m not sure it was worth our time hiking up to it. I felt like the rest of the park was so much prettier.
There is so much to do in San Diego, you will never want to leave! Check out what else you can do with our 3 Day San Diego Itinerary.