Balboa Park is one of San Diego’s brightest cultural gems. Founded in 1868, Balboa Park is a rich part of San Diego’s history. You can easily spend days exploring the many museums and enjoying the good food around the park. But if you’re planning a trip to Balboa Park, check out this list of all the places you should be sure not to miss!
The San Diego Air and Space Museum
Fun for the whole family, this museum is a celebration of aviation and space flight history and technology. With beautifully restored airplanes including a Navy F6F Hellcat and an A-4 Skyhawk jet, explore the technology represented in classic military aircraft. Check the museum website for special events and exhibits.
Museum of Man
A beautiful anthropology museum, the Museum of Man explores the vast range of human history and culture! With exhibits such as “Living with Animals” and “Beerology,” kids and parents alike will have plenty to explore. The Museum of Man also provides access to Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower. Climb to the top of the tower to experience breathtaking panoramic views over downtown San Diego. But you must be part of a tour to see the tower. Visit the website for tickets, tour information, and more.
Japanese Friendship Garden
An expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city of Yokohama, Japan, this twelve-acre garden is a relaxing experience for the whole family. In addition to giving visitors a chance to wander the grounds at their own pace, the Japanese Friendship Garden offers a variety of educational programs (like their accredited horticultural classes), exhibits, and festivals. Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden for a chance to learn more about Japanese culture! Check the website for special events and exhibits.
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
Give your children a day of fun at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum! First founded as a traveling education program in science and art, the Children’s Discovery Museum has established itself as a permanent fixture at Balboa Park. The museum incorporates cutting-edge educational research to give children a chance to learn about science through hands-on exploration. And it’s fun for adults too! Visit their website for information about upcoming events and new exhibits.
Fleet Science Center
With over 100 interactive exhibits, the Fleet Science Center is a must-visit. This is a great museum for adults, with events like Fleet Night of Science and Two Scientists Walk into a Bar. But kids can enjoy the special workshops and educational camps that the museum hosts all year long! Check the website for details about their special offerings.
The San Diego Museum of Art
With many permanent collections and special visiting exhibitions, the San Diego Museum of Art is the perfect way to get inspired to create your next work of art! The museum houses paintings, statutes, and art pieces from around the world. Check out their website for ticket information.
San Diego Natural History Museum
San Diego has some wonderful biodiversity, and the Nat, as the museum is affectionately called, gives you a chance to explore some of it. With four floors of exhibitions, you can easily lose track of time inside the museum’s ecosystem. Learn about dinosaurs, ancient birds, and the creatures that currently call San Diego home. Traveling exhibits are always arriving at the Nat so make sure to visit their website to see what events are on deck for 2020!
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
With over 27,000 square feet of trains, trestles, and tracks, don’t pull the breaks on this museum! At the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, you can explore the history of American railroading with scale models of California railroads. Check the website for special events and exhibits.
Food and Drink:
The Prado at Balboa Park
An award-winning restaurant in the House of Hospitality, a visit to the Prado is a lovely way to cap off a trip to Balboa Park. With décor inspired by the many museums in the park, head over after a long day at museums to rest and relax with diverse cuisine and a wide variety of beverages. Reservations are recommended. Check the website to browse their current menu.
The Tea Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden
Visiting the Japanese Friendship Garden? Stop by the Tea Pavilion and enjoy some tea and Japanese cuisine. Munch on sushi, rice bowls, Japanese noodles, salads, or snacks as you enjoy the views from the outdoor courtyard.
Located in the Fleet Science Center, Craveology is the place to grab a quick bite. With a wide selection of food items including salads, sandwiches, wraps, flatbread pizzas, and paninis, as well as smoothies, frappes, and specialty coffees, this is the place to go if you need a break. Enjoy the view of the iconic Balboa Park Bea Evenson Fountain as you eat and drink. Admission to the museum is not required to visit Craveology. Check their website to learn more.
From December Nights to Food Truck Fridays in the summer, Balboa Park is always bustling with things to do! Make sure to check their events calendar before you go to see what special events the park may be hosting.