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Balboa Park San Diego

A trip to San Diego won't be complete without spending a day in Balboa Park. Considered the nation's largest urban cultural park, there is no place else in the country like Balboa Park.

Balboa park offers a magnificent combination of art, history, architecture and agriculture all in one expansive park. Balboa Park houses more than 15 of San Diego's best museums, most of which have wonderful gift shops. The acclaimed Old Globe theatre, beautiful gardens, renowned performing arts venues, and the world famous San Diego Zoo. If you are looking for things to do in San Diego, Balboa Park is a good place to start.

The Balboa Park Visitors Center is located just minutes from downtown San Diego at
1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101

Below are a few of the museums and activities you can enjoy during your visit.

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo

One of the world's most famous zoos, the San Diego Zoo offers hours of fascinating entertainment for people of all ages. Covering roughly 100 acres/40 hectares, San Diego Zoo is home to over 3,700 animals from 650 species—many of them extremely rare. Of the several thousand animals that live in the zoo, you'll have an opportunity to see everything from Giant Pandas and Polar Bears to the Tasmanian Devil and African Wild Dogs and so much more. Click here for more information

San Diego Air & Space Museum
San Diego Air and Space Museum

2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours:: Daily 10:00am - 4:30pm
Phone: (619) 234-8291

Airplane and history buffs won't want to miss the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Imagine what it's like to travel into space as you get a close up and personal view of NASA's Apollo 9 Command Module.

Take your entire family to check out the brand new Gangsters, Glamour & Glory exhibit, forging America's future in the 1930's.

See a reproduction of the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer and other models of early flight, and try your hand at the Piper Cub Simulator. Relive the history of aviation through airmen's experiences of WWI and WWII.

Admission: Adult $15.00, Child $6.00
Hours: Daily, 10:00 am-4:00 pm. Hours subject to change. (Free admission for San Diego County residents and active duty military and their families on the 4th Tuesday of each month)

San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego Automotive Museum

2080 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Daily 10:00am - 5:00pm
Phone: (619) 231-2886

As with many of Balboa Park's most distinctive features, San Diego Automotive Museum allows visitors to enjoy more than 90 incredible vehicles at the museum in addition to special exhibits that are featured on a regular rotation. Shows like Low riders of Southern California, Law Enforcement Vehicles, and Cadillac offer a wide range of vehicles and memorabilia, adding a unique twist to the permanent collection that features Louie Mattar's Fabulous $75,000 Car and so much more!

Admission: Adult $10.00, Child $4.00
Hours: Daily, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
San Diego Model Railroad Museum

1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 10:00 - 4:00
Saturday - Sunday 11:00 - 5:00
Phone: (619) 696-0199

You might want to consider a visit to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. It is the world's largest model railroad museum, and it is in Balboa Park.

The San Diego Model Railroad Museums mission is to preserve the heritage of railroading through a series of miniature representations of California railroads. To educate the public on the history of model railroading and the many different aspects of railroading.

Admission: Adults - $6.00; Seniors (65+) - $5.00; Students (with ID) - $3.00; Active Military (with ID) - $2.50; Children under 15 - FREE when accompanied by an adult
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 11:00 - 4:00 Saturday - Sunday 11:00 - 5:00

San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
San Diego Natural History Museum

1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: 10-5 daily
Phone: (877) 946-7797

Located in beautiful Balboa Park, the San Diego Natural History Museum offers exciting, colorful, and interactive exhibitions. Focusing on the southern California and Baja California region, the San Diego Natural History Museum exhibitions combine contemporary science with multimedia art to deliver relevant take-home messages about the Earth's past, present and future.

San Diego Natural History Museum is a flagship cultural institution of San Diego and is surely not to be missed.

Admission: Adult $13.00, Child $7.00
Hours: Open Daily, 10:00 am-5:00 pm

Japanese Friendship Garden
Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego

2215 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Daily 10:00am - 6:00pm.
Subject to change. Please verify Hours: on Website:
Phone: (619) 232-2721

The Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park traces its origins to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition when a Japanese Tea Pavilion was built for the expo. Strong community interest kept it open for thirty years after the fair ended. In 1950 San Diego and Yokohama, Japan, became sister cities and this formal Japanese garden was constructed to symbolize the cities' shared ideals. The Zen design incorporates elements such as a traditional sand and stone garden, a koi pond with a central island shaped like a turtle to symbolize longevity, and a shishiodoshi-a bamboo pipe that fills with water until, like a see-saw, it tips and strikes the rock below, creating a noise that is meant to scare away evil spirits.

San Diego Hall of Champions
San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum

2131 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Daily 10:00am-4:30pm
Phone: (619) 234-2544

San Diego Hall of Champions, located in beautiful Balboa Park, is the nation's largest multi-sport museum boasting three floors of memorabilia in 68,000 square feet of space. The museum represents artifacts and memorabilia from more than 42 sports. Offering a state-of-the-art theatre, an interactive media center, the Breitbard Hall of Fame and fascinating displays of San Diego's rich and diverse sports. The museum continues to rotate seasonal, topical and traveling exhibits, which add to the interactive offerings.

The Old Globe Theatre Balboa Park San Diego
The Old Globe Theatre Balboa Park San Diego

This Tony Award-winning theater has been presenting classic and contemporary plays, musicals, and the highly-regarded and celebrated Summer Shakespeare festival.

The Old Globe is one of the most renowned regional theatres in the country, and has stood as San Diego’s flagship arts institution for over 70 years.

1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Varies by performance
Phone Box Office at (619) 23-GLOBE (234-5623).

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Daily 10:00 a.m., closing times vary.
Phone: (619) 238-1233

Explore 100+ hands-on interactive science exhibits or enjoy a 23 passenger motion simulator ride or catch a larger-than-life film in San Diego's only IMAX Dome Theater. There are a few of the fun things you should look forward to at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park.

The Balboa Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, musicals, plays, concerts, and classes.

Residents Free Days in Balboa Park

Balboa Park organizations offer free admission to all San Diego City and San Diego County residents (with ID) and active duty military and their families on the following days as part of Balboa Park's "Residents Free Days".

Amtrak California How to get to Balboa Park via Amtrak

Take the Pacific Surfliner to the San Diego station. From there, walk 0.3 miles east to State Street and B Street. Take San Diego Transit bus 7 (69th and University via University Avenue) to Park Boulevard and Zoo Place. Walk 0.1 miles to the park.

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System – Buy a day pass for $5.00 allowing unlimited travel. There are ticket vending machines at the San Diego train station. For more information, visit

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