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11 Favorites Things To Do In Balboa Park That’ll Make Your Kid’s Experience Unforgettable

Balboa Park is like a treasure trove of adventure waiting to be explored by families with kids.

With its impressive collection of museums, gardens, and playgrounds, this popular San Diego attraction is the perfect destination for families looking to spend quality time together.

In this article, I will share my personal experience and highlight some of the best things to do in Balboa Park with kids.

By the end of this post, families will have a better understanding of the various activities available and be able to plan an unforgettable trip to Balboa Park.

So, let’s get started!

How to Get to Balboa Park

To get to Balboa Park with my kids, we drove from our home and parked in one of the many parking lots available.

Balboa Park is easily accessible by car, public transportation, or on foot, depending on where you are coming from.

If you are driving, there are multiple parking lots located throughout the park, but it is recommended to arrive early to secure a spot, especially on weekends or during popular events.

Alternatively, you can take public transportation such as the bus or trolley to get to Balboa Park.

There are also bike lanes and pedestrian pathways throughout the park if you prefer to walk or bike.

The Best Place to Eat Food Near Balboa Park

During our visit to Balboa Park with my kids, we stumbled upon the Prado Restaurant, which is located inside the park and offers a range of delicious dishes for both parents and kids.

The ambiance was welcoming and the staff was friendly, making it a great place to dine with our family.

For those on a budget, there are several affordable options near Balboa Park where families can grab a bite to eat with their kids.

The park has a variety of food trucks and kiosks that offer affordable and delicious options.

Some nearby options include Mama’s Bakery & Deli, The Daily Scoop, and The Crack Shack, which offer kid-friendly menus and a casual dining atmosphere.

Lets look at things to do in balboa park with kids.

1. Take Photos of Balboa Park Architecture

One of the most captivating aspects of Balboa Park is the stunning architecture that can be found throughout the park.

We took our kids on a leisurely stroll through the park, admiring the different buildings and snapping photos along the way.

The intricate designs and details of each building made for a unique and fascinating photo opportunity, and it was a great way to teach our kids about different styles of architecture.

As we explored the park, we also stumbled upon some hidden gems, like the Botanical Building, which is home to more than 2,100 plant species. It was a fun and educational experience for our kids, who were amazed by the variety of plants they saw.

For families visiting Balboa Park, I highly recommend taking some time to appreciate the stunning architecture and snap some photos with your kids. It’s a great way to create lasting memories and learn something new at the same time.

2. Botanical Building and Lily Pond

Visiting the Botanical Building and Lily Pond in Balboa Park with kids is a wonderful experience.

The Botanical Building is a stunning greenhouse that is home to more than 2,100 plants from around the world, including many rare and exotic species.

The Lily Pond is located just outside the Botanical Building and features a tranquil pool of water filled with lily pads and surrounded by lush greenery.

When my family and I visited, my kids were in awe of the vast array of plants inside the Botanical Building.

We spent a lot of time exploring the different rooms, taking pictures, and learning about the different species of plants.

Outside the building, we enjoyed watching the ducks swimming in the Lily Pond and walking around the peaceful surroundings.

Visiting the Botanical Building and Lily Pond is a great way to introduce kids to nature and learn about different plant species.

It’s also a great spot for taking family photos with the stunning architecture of the building as a backdrop. Families can also have a picnic or relax on the grassy areas around the Lily Pond.

3. House of Hospitality

Hospitality. The building, which was built in 1915, serves as a central gathering place for visitors to the park.

The architecture is beautiful, with Spanish Colonial Revival style that adds to the charm of the park.

The House of Hospitality is also home to several restaurants, including The Prado, a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

My kids enjoyed exploring the building, which has several small alcoves and rooms to discover.

They were also fascinated by the history of the building and the role it played in the development of the park.

We even had the opportunity to attend a free concert in the courtyard, which was a fun way to experience the House of Hospitality in a different way.

4. Balboa Park December Nights

Balboa Park December Nights is a popular event that takes place during the holiday season in Balboa Park.

It’s a two-day festival filled with festive activities, holiday lights, and live entertainment. Families and couples can enjoy a variety of attractions, including food, shopping, music, and dance performances.

One of the main reasons why December Nights is a good thing for families and couples is the festive atmosphere. Balboa Park is decorated with thousands of lights and colorful decorations, which create a magical environment for visitors.

Kids can have fun exploring the different exhibits, while couples can enjoy the romantic ambiance of the park.

Additionally, December Nights is an opportunity for families and couples to come together and create lasting memories.

They can take photos with Santa Claus, enjoy the holiday music, and participate in various activities together. It’s a great way to bond and spend quality time with loved ones.

Lastly, December Nights is a budget-friendly event, as admission to the park is free. Families and couples can enjoy the festive atmosphere and attractions without breaking the bank.

They can also enjoy a variety of affordable food options and unique holiday shopping experiences.

5. San Diego Museum of Art

Visiting the San Diego Museum of Art with my kids was an educational and exciting experience.

The museum has a fantastic collection of art from around the world, including contemporary art and masterpieces from renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

We explored the different galleries and learned about the history and meaning behind each piece.

One of the highlights of our visit was the family art studio, where we got to create our own artwork inspired by the pieces we had just seen.

My kids were thrilled to show off their creativity and see their artwork displayed in the studio.

The museum also offers interactive and engaging tours for families, including a treasure hunt-style tour that takes kids on a fun and educational journey through the museum.

Visiting the San Diego Museum of Art with my kids was a great way to introduce them to the world of art and spark their creativity. I highly recommend it to other families visiting Balboa Park.

6. Street Performers

One of the highlights of our trip to Balboa Park with my kids was the opportunity to watch street performers.

We stumbled upon several performers throughout the park, from musicians to magicians to acrobats.

The kids were mesmerized by their talents and enjoyed watching them perform their various acts.

We even got to participate in a magic trick where my daughter was selected as a volunteer from the audience. It was a fun and interactive experience that we all enjoyed.

The street performers in Balboa Park add an extra layer of entertainment to the already vibrant atmosphere of the park.

They can be found at various locations throughout the park and are a great way to break up the day and provide a fun distraction for the kids.

We found that the street performers added to the overall ambiance of the park and were a great way to make our visit even more memorable.

7. Natural History Museum

When my family and I visited Balboa Park with our kids, one of the highlights was our visit to the San Diego Natural History Museum.

The museum is located in the heart of Balboa Park and offers a variety of exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages.

As soon as we entered the museum, we were greeted by a massive dinosaur skeleton, which immediately captured our kids’ attention.

From there, we explored a range of exhibits that showcased the natural history and biodiversity of the region, including interactive displays, immersive exhibits, and hands-on activities.

One of our favorite exhibits was the “Coast to Cactus in Southern California” exhibit, which takes visitors on a journey through the different habitats of the region, from the coast to the desert. Our kids loved exploring the different environments, from a simulated tide pool to a desert oasis.

Another highlight was the “Fossil Mysteries” exhibit, which showcases the rich fossil record of the region, including specimens from the Cretaceous period and the Ice Age.

Our kids were fascinated by the giant mammoth skeleton and the interactive displays that allowed them to learn more about the creatures that once roamed the earth.

Our visit to the San Diego Natural History Museum was a fun and educational experience for our whole family. We highly recommend it to any families visiting Balboa Park with kids.

8. Aerospace Museum

The San Diego Air & Space Museum, located in Balboa Park, is a fantastic place to visit with kids who are interested in airplanes, spacecraft, and other aeronautical-related subjects.

When my kids and I visited the museum, we were in awe of the exhibits, which included real-life airplanes, spacecraft, and other artifacts.

My kids loved sitting in the cockpit of a real-life F-4 Phantom jet fighter, while I appreciated the interactive exhibits and displays that explained the science behind air and space travel.

It was a fantastic experience for both me and my kids, and I would highly recommend it to any family visiting Balboa Park.

9. Spanish Village

Spanish Village is an attraction in Balboa Park that showcases the works of local artists. It was one of the highlights of our visit to Balboa Park with my kids.

The village features 37 studios where visitors can watch artists create their works of art. My kids were fascinated by the different types of artwork on display, ranging from paintings, sculptures, pottery, and glasswork.

We spent several hours walking around the village, watching the artists work, and admiring their creations.

My kids enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the artists and learn about their different techniques and inspirations. They were also able to participate in hands-on art activities, such as painting and pottery.

The village also has a colorful courtyard filled with vibrant flowers and fountains, which my kids loved playing around.

The village is a great place to visit with kids, especially those who are interested in art or enjoy hands-on activities.

10. International Cottages

My kids and I had a great time exploring the International Cottages in Balboa Park. The cottages are small houses that represent different countries and cultures from around the world.

Each cottage has its unique design and decor, showcasing traditional clothing, artifacts, and artworks.

My kids enjoyed walking from one cottage to another, learning about different cultures and countries.

They had the opportunity to interact with volunteers from the different cottages who were happy to share their knowledge and experiences.

We also had the chance to try some traditional foods and watch performances of music and dance from different cultures.

The International Cottages are a great way to expose kids to different cultures and broaden their worldview.

They provide a unique and educational experience that can be both fun and memorable for the whole family.

I highly recommend a visit to the International Cottages in Balboa Park if you are looking for things to do with your kids.

11. Walk Around

Walking around Balboa Park is an excellent way to spend time with your kids. With 1,200 acres of gardens, museums, and attractions, there’s always something new to see and explore. My kids loved strolling through the park and taking in the sights and sounds.

We made sure to stop at different gardens, including the Desert Garden and the Alcazar Garden. My kids enjoyed seeing the different plants and flowers, and they loved playing among the greenery.

We also stopped at several of the park’s playgrounds, which provided a much-needed break for my kids to run around and burn off some energy. The Pepper Grove Playground and the Morley Field Playground were both big hits with my kids.

Another highlight of our walk around Balboa Park was watching street performers and musicians. We came across several talented artists, including a guitarist playing flamenco music and a group of acrobats performing stunts.


Balboa Park is an amazing destination for families with kids, offering a wide variety of activities and attractions that are both educational and entertaining.

From exploring museums and galleries to enjoying outdoor spaces and events, there is something for everyone in Balboa Park.

By spending quality time with my kids in this beautiful and historic park, we created unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

I hope this article has given you a good idea of the things to do in Balboa Park with kids based on our experience.

I encourage you to visit this amazing destination with your own family and explore all that it has to offer.

And if you have any other recommendations for activities or attractions in Balboa Park, please share them in the comments below!

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