Calling all the travel enthusiasts, my ultimate guide on the best things to do in Balboa park. Balboa has everything you need to do with your kids, families, or friends.
Balboa is an urban cultural park located in San Diego, California. The park has attractive social amenities and things that can make your visit fun and enjoyable.
Balboa is one of my best destinations in San Diego. It’s the perfect escape for couples to enjoy a romantic weekend and for families to enjoy a lovely picnic.
The park is charming, the weather is warm, the people are friendly, the attractions near balboa park are attractive, and the gardens are beautiful. What more could you need?
After several visits with my kids, I have an elite list of the best things to do in balboa park with kids. The fun activities can also be enjoyed by couples, families, veterans, and large groups of friends.
So whether it will be your first time or your fourth time visiting Balboa park, the fun activities will make your visit unforgettable and enjoyable.
Fun Facts of Balboa Park
While I was visiting balboa park, I learned so much about the park and the role it plays in the community. The park is the home of the world-famous zoo set up on 1200 acres.
The park has a beautiful botanical building built in 1915, and it’s the most photographed building in San Diego.
Where to Stay Near Balboa Park
When you visit Balboa park, I recommend you stay 3 to 4 days because the place has so many fun activities that you can’t do in one day. The park has almost 17 museums, a zoo park, and restaurants.
Below are the best hotels near balboa park:
- Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast
- The Westgate Hotel
- Inn at the Park
- Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, San Diego
- Staypineapple, Hotel Z, Gaslamp
1. Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast: If you are on a tight budget, I’d recommend Hillcrest. You can choose the smallest room, which is perfect for exploring every day and night.
Aside from choosing the smallest room, the hotel is known for having a popular room known as the Zoom room. Their parking is free.
2. The west gate hotel is a five-star hotel located in a beautiful location in San Diego. The hotel is known for having a nice pool with a running track and free wifi. But their parking is expensive.
3. Inn at the Park is close to Balboa park, 10 minutes drive, and a 20-minute walk. It’s a three-star hotel, and it budget-friendly. If you. They have a good balcony which you can use to enjoy the ocean breeze and the city view.
4. Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, San Diego is an excellent hotel located in a high-rise building. They charge for parking, and it’s also close to Balboa park.
5. Staypineapple, Hotel Z, Gaslamp -is a funky hotel with a pineapple theme. It has comfortable beds and pillows, and it’s also budget-friendly.
The only drawback is that they don’t have a parking space. When you check-in, you’ll be provided with pineapple cookies.
Below are the best restaurants near Balboa park to eat at:
- Cafe in the Park
- Panama 66
- Tea Pavilion
- The Prado At Balboa Park
1. Cafe in the Park is not a famous restaurant, but if you want hot chicken quesadillas, then you can’t go wrong with the restaurant. The resultant is small and located in a beautiful local.
2. Prado restaurant is located at the historic house of hospitality in the center of San Diego’s popular balboa park. They have good food, and they are known for preparing: salad, Kobe burgers, short ribs, and sangria.
3. Panama 66 – It’s a good restaurant for sandwiches. The setting is great. It’s a good place to eat while visiting Balboa park.
4. Tea Pavilion is also a good place to eat while visiting balboa park. They are well known for preparing Asian food and tea. The restaurant is located near the Japanese friendship garden in Balboa park. Their menu has different and a lot of selections to choose from.
5. The Prado At Balboa Park – the restaurant is not that popular, but it’s good for a mid-afternoon snack. The place is located near an art museum. They are known for making the best Kobe beef sushi.
Ready for the guide?
1. Take Photos of Balboa Park Architecture
Balboa park has great architectural buildings. The buildings are stunning, and they are the most photographed buildings in the park.
The moment you enter the park, you’ll be stunned by the beauty and attractiveness of the buildings. If you love taking selfies, I’d recommend you take photos and share them with your friends.
2. Botanical Building and Lily Pond
When you visit the park, you will be amazed by the wonderful view of the botanical building with the lily pond. You will see many colorful flowers.
The favorite things around the botanical building are the lily pond, shaded tables, and large lawns at Pepper Grove.
3. House of Hospitality
Before you start visiting other areas within the park, you should visit the house of hospitality for orientation.
The volunteers in the center are friendly people who will help you with how to navigate your visit around the park. The house of hospitality is close to the Prado restaurant and other attraction areas.
4. Balboa Park December Nights
December nights are the most celebrated event in Balboa. As the holidays draw closer, the park hosts various events from food vendors, to music, and other festive activities.
If you want to experience the biggest fun activities of your life, you must visit the park in December.
5. San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Museum of Art is found at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park, and it houses a wide collection of art.
If you would like your kid to get inspired and educated through art, the San Diego museum is a must-visit. It’s one of the best museums at Balboa park.
6. Street Performers
Visit Balboa park on Sundays to see the street performers. It’s also the day you will see the organ performance in the Organ Pavilion. There are different street performers.
So you need to look out for your favorite musician. For first-time visitors, I’d advise you to check with the visitor center for more information on their timing and the musicians performing.
7. Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum is found in Balboa park, and it was founded in 1974 as the San Diego society of natural history. It’s a great place to take your kids.
Your kids will learn about fossil mysteries, skulls, living labs, and cactus. Please note that the museum is geared toward kids and not adults. So don’t disappoint your kids. Entry is not free.
The last time I checked, they were charging $34. It’s one of the things to do in San Diego.
Please note that museums in Balboa Park offer free entry on Tuesdays every month to local San Diego residents.
8. Aerospace Museum
Aerospace Museum is also another place to take your kids. The museum is in the former ford building. The museum is a space exploration museum with a historical collection of aircraft.
The place is suitable for adults and kids. They have portraits of world war 1 and 2 and a collection of aviation history.
9. Spanish Village
Spanish Village is an art center for many art galleries. Currently, it houses over 200 local San Diego artists who create and demonstrate their art skills.
They offer classes to all ages, and they have summer camps for kids. It’s also a great place to spend the afternoon.
10. International Cottages
Balboa park has a collection of International Cottages. Each cottage represents a different nation with its own culture.
If you visit during the weekend, you will experience different cultures. There will be live music, food samples, and many more activities.
11. Walk Around
Balboa is a great place to walk around with your kids. The area has plenty of people. During the day, you can walk with your kids while sightseeing.
You can walk during the night with your spouse, and you will experience a warm reception from people around the area.
The area is safe, and you will meet a lot of people exploring the area. The location is best for trail running, and it’s one of the free things to do in Balboa park.
As you can see from the elite of fun things to do in Balboa park – you’ll notice that the activities are geared towards kids and partly adults.
I hope this guide will help you plan and visit balboa park. To be honest, you can do all the above activities within four days.
That’s it for today.
If you have comments or feedback, please share your thoughts in the comment box below.