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“$5 Audio Tour Is Amazing” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Balboa Park

Balboa Park
1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
619-239-0512
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Ranked #14 of 249 Activities in San Diego
Type: Parks, Gardens, Playgrounds
Activities: Biking, City walk sightseeing, Walking, Viewing wildlife, Getting married
More attraction details
Attraction Details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: One of the most popular urban parks in the United States, this bucolic paradise is packed with an array of attractions, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Useful Information: Stroller parking, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Cardiff
Top Contributor
319 reviews 319 reviews
149 attraction reviews
Reviews in 197 cities Reviews in 197 cities
229 helpful votes 229 helpful votes
“$5 Audio Tour Is Amazing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2013

I've lived in the area for 20+ years and love to share the Reuben Fleet IMAX, the Zoo, and the History, Aviation and Railroad Museums with friends and visitors.

But a recent visitor who wanted to do none of that challenged me to go online and view other options. Viola. For a mere pittance, we visited areas at our own pace and learned about facts and history that I was not aware of. You'll see and hear about everything on this tour:-)

A stop at the visitor center (west of the Reuben Fleet Museum where we parked) for the map and audio device provided additional tips, maps and postcards.

If you can, pack a picnic lunch & blanket to dine under a tree in the park.
If not, Prado is the most publicized restaurant, and you should at least look-into the dining and patio areas to see the architecture and peruse the menu (which is pricy). The calamari appetizer is a favorite, and I do it with friends at happy hour for discounted prices on other items, including the drinks.

My favorite place is the Japanese Garden restaurant with huge sandwiches, gr8 curry and yummy salads. Its very reasonable and you sit outside overlooking the Organ Pavilion and gardens, where a musician is often performing for you. (year-round due to our mild weather)

The area is amazing with buildings that look like churches, but one is a museum and the other a theater. Many building have ornate carvings and the history of several of them is fascinating. Also, trivia about the Old Globe theater and other areas made the visit interesting and enjoyable to both a local and a visitor.

The tour took us about 90 minutes, not counting the stop for a Zen lunch with a violinist. We also spent more time visiting the Natural History museum and seeing "Cosmic Collisions" in the giant, domed IMAX theater.

It was a marvelous day in "America's Finest City".

Note: You are no longer able to easily access the east side of the park from Hwy 101 on W Laural. I hope a GPS does better than I did going N. to University and then S on Park Blvd. Signage is terrible from the west side and I went in circles.

Visited November 2013
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Honolulu, Hawaii
Top Contributor
86 reviews 86 reviews
32 attraction reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Gorgeous~”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 16, 2013

This was on the short list for our San Diego visit. It is magnificent. The historic buildings are reminiscent of European architecture rather than the ubiquitous (though certainly most lovely) Spanish influence . Our only regret was that we did not allow enough time. We'll just have to come back very soon!

Visited November 2013
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Rolla, Missouri
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Absolutely Beautiful !”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2013

I visited Balboa park with a friend after we finished with our conference and didn't have much time to visit any other attractions. We went in pretty late in the afternoon but the weather was perfect, sunny with light cool breeze, perfect for walking around and there is a lot of it since there are dozens of gardens that you can visit. We really liked the Japanese garden, they had cherry blossoms at peak blossoming season, nice collections of bonsai trees and the best of all, the fish pool. It was really relaxing and they have a nice vibrant mix of fish. They also have a tea cafe but we barely made it 20 minutes before the closing time so we missed the opportunity of enjoying some nice teas and miso soup. Japanese garden has an entry fee of $7 each but it was worth it.

They have a small gift shop, the usual Japanese stuff but I found some really nice blank traditional watercolor painted greeting cards. Worth the money I would say since I could not find them anywhere else.

Other must visit spots - cactus garden, water lilly pond, international village.

If you are with kids or family members that might have difficulty walking too much, select the gardens you want to visit in advance and mark them on the maps to save time and select the shortest distance. Keep water bottles and some snacks with you. Although there are cafes and some snack carts around the park, sometimes they are not located close enough to your locations. There are plenty of restrooms conveniently located.

You can literally spend a day or two at the park but depending upon the time you have, you can still enjoy a lot of it.

Visited April 2013
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West Yorkshire
Top Contributor
151 reviews 151 reviews
87 attraction reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
71 helpful votes 71 helpful votes
“My main reason for visiting”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2013

Ever since my friend showed me photographs of Balboa Park I've wanted to visit. I got my wish in October and I wasn't disappointed. I bought a book of tickets but on hindsight should have concentrated my time on the attractions that I was really interested in and spent more time just sitting and watching the world go by. My favourites were the Japanese Friendship Gardens, The Museum of Man and the Art Museum. I didn't particular like Fleet Science Centre but loved the Theatre Show - Cosmic Collision.

I did spend the first day walking everywhere but caught the free tram on the second day and it was a great way to get around.

Visited October 2013
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murrieta
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Balboa Park...always a beautiful place to visit”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2013

We live in SoCal and still like to visit Balboa Park whenever we get a chance. I love walking around the historic buildings and going through the gardens. I especially enjoy visiting the "Greenhouse," not really a green house but in San Diego where the weather is always perfect (98%) Orchids and other exotic plants are always in bloom and look fantastic.

The Prado Restaurant is a very special place and it overlooks the gardens. This place is not to be missed for lunch also as the outside tables with umbrellas shade you just enough so that you can enjoy being outside. Good service and food too.

Visited September 2013
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