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Balboa Park, San Diego

4.7
#1 of 240 in Fun & Games in California
Playground Garden
An urban park, Balboa Park is home to 490 hectares (1,200 acres) of landscaped gardens, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, recreational spaces, art studios, museums, and theaters. Stroll through the Desert Garden or Japanese Friendship Garden to admire the park's diverse plant and animal life, or tour the San Diego Museum of Art or the Natural History Museum. Take advantage of the park's free tram service to get around. Use our San Diego trip itinerary planner to arrange your visit to Balboa Park and other attractions in San Diego.
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9,368 reviews
Google
4.6
  • Well of course there is the zoo. But there are lots of playgrounds and playing fields, some beautiful gardens and lovely walks, some historic buildings from an old international expo. The best part of...  more »
  • For an early morning run or walk in the park, Balboa Park is the place to be. We loved the park for its many museums, its wonderful landscape, and classic architecture. Our visit to the botanical gard...  more »
  • Beautiful buildings, beautiful gardens, exiting and unexpected museums - especially the Mingei international people craft museum - this place has it all. Absolutely marvelous !  more »
Google
  • I really love all the secret hidden gems that Balboa Park offers. They have something for every single age range. I love the international houses and the wide variety of museums. I dislike the amount of homeless people on some of the jogging paths and the area across from the dog park. I definitely will avoid coming at night. I love the theater that they have. You can tell it's been there for a while, but that's what adds character. I will recommend visiting Balboa Park, just make sure to be aware of your surroundings.
  • So much to do and see! We spent a good day here at Balboa Park there wasn't much choice for eating so we left for lunch and came back. I do wish some of the Museum's stayed open later most close at 4 or 5. We spent an entire day there and didn't see everything we only saw a couple things. I use the app which was helpful and gave us a wish list for things that we wanted to do. It's quite a fun app and it gives a lot of information about the different things in the park.
  • Go. Just go.Seventeen museums, more than you can see in a couple of days. The best deal is an Explorer Pass -- you have two to seven days to visit the attractions, but BEWARE it's one visit per pass -- you can't go back to a museum without paying an entry fee. You can get to Balboa Park easily with public transportation. If you have access to the trolley or bus line the purchasing a pass on a Compass card lets you travel on most lines with just a tap, you don't have to pay individual fees for each ride.
  • Very cool experience. Great free museums exhibits and spectacular views of San Diego native plants and architecture. This is a great date activity for free or a family day trip. Can get crowded on the weekends but I think it is worth it just because the quality of buskers that are also present.
  • This is one of my favorite places to visit in the whole United States. The museums are all excellent, but can get expensive to see more than one or two. Some are free, but we found out that most of those are closed on Monday. The arboretum is always free and open though. Most important is to go to the artisan village between the museums and the zoo. It is full of beautiful things, and you will be able to find gifts to bring home. Most of them will ship too. Overall, this is a great place to spend a day. There are a few places to eat and tons to explore even if you skip the museums. It is a must see every time I make it to San Diego.

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Where to stay in San Diego

Offering accommodations at a wide range of price levels, San Diego is one of the easiest cities to stay in, regardless of whether you're simply passing through or hanging around for a long vacation. If you don't mind splurging, book your stay at a luxury downtown hotel or a lavish bayside resort. You can also rent a spacious private cottage within walking distance of the city's popular beaches. For a more affordable alternative, try a family-friendly hostel or quaint inn in a quiet residential area.
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