Balboa Park
Balboa Park
4.5
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
About
This 1,200-acre nature park comprises 17 museums, gardens, musical theaters, a sports complex, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The park’s Spanish-Moorish architecture and 19 distinct gardens (some require admission fees) attract both tourists and locals. Don’t miss the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the Spanish Village Art Center for unique handicrafts, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where free concerts are hosted in the evenings. Travelers recommend putting aside the whole day to explore the park. To make the most of your time, hop on the Balboa Park trams (they’re free!) to get around. – Tripadvisor
Duration: More than 3 hours
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  • BobiTychynskiShimoda
    Oakville, Canada396 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great spot!
    So much to do. Unfortunately the botanical garden was closed (until next year?) and also the United Nations houses (open on the weekend). That said, it was nice attending the activities we chose. Great spot. We did the zoo and Japanese friendship garden and both were great!
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 1, 2023
  • gmleven1
    Barrington, Illinois82 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful setting
    Beautiful setting with many options to see. Was disappointed one of the museum/gallery was closed on our day. Very comfortable. Plenty of docents to guide. Easy walk to our trolly pick up. Larger than expected
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 15, 2023
  • Randall
    Colorado Springs, Colorado10 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful park.
    Beautiful park with a lot to see. We spent the first half of the day in the park, feels like better than a botanical garden just walking around. We went to the zoo, the zoo was huge. Had a great day there.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written June 20, 2023
  • wemjam
    Carleton, Michigan1,540 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Excellent area to spend a day... or two... or three
    This is the MOST amazing place in San Diego. It is the size of Central Park in New York and Millennium Park in Chicago combined! There are like 15 different museums in the Park to visit along with nice gardens and green spaces, and a large fountain to enjoy for the afternoon. There is also a "village" of little houses each one representing a different nationality. The main Promenade area was beautiful. The architecture and buildings were so ornate and reminded me of something you might see in Europe. I was completely blown away while we walked around and it was so much more than I expected. There were little vendor booths selling different things around the fountain area. There is also a free little tram with a few different stops to help navigate around the park without having to walk as much. Each stop is located at different areas to make getting around much easier. You could spend DAYS here to explore all that is offered. Highly recommend a visit, but if you have limited time like we did you will want to research all the different things available and make a plan of attack. I would have loved to visit the little village with all the house, but we just didn't have the time. Note: We were staying in a downtown hotel on Broadway and just opted to take an Uber, the cost was only about $8 each way to get to Balboa Park.
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 11, 2023
  • Khalaf K
    Sharjah, United Arab Emirates278 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Magnificent Park
    Balboa Park is a magnificent place you must visit in San Diego. Many Museums can be visited in one spot to know the history of California. I have visited 3 museums: San Diego Natural Museum History, Rail road Museum and Museum of photographic arts. Good for families with kids.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written July 13, 2023
  • Jo P
    Brough, United Kingdom596 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Definitely Worth Spending a Couple of Days there
    A massive park that wasn't too busy due to the size, we spent the day there and also visited the zoo but could spend a couple of days there easily. A tourist information centre with very helpful staff. The only downside was we struggled to find somewhere to eat on a Sun early evening.
    Visited March 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 16, 2023
  • MatthewCafiero
    Flower Mound, Texas17 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing walkable collection of Museums and venues
    Invest in the day, week, or annual pass (for just about everything except the Zoo and the new (underwhelming) Comic-Con Museum. Give the Comic-Con museum time to iron out the bugs before visiting. Air & Space and the Museum of Us are both world-class, and the Japanese Friendship Garden is a beautiful place to enjoy a cup of tea and reflect on everything you've seen. I am a Museum Studies grad student and loved this amazing park.
    Visited August 2023
    Written August 13, 2023
  • osnoopy13
    Lilburn, Georgia427 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lots of activities and fun things to do!
    Balboa Park has so many great things to do you must make sure to add it to your list of sites while visiting there. We saw it twice. Once on a brief city tour. Then we returned next day to visit a few museums. No problem parking or getting around. Has free shuttle and parking. We ate near the Japanese gardens. Spent several hours at the Air and Space Museum. Briefly shopped in the Spanish market area. If you plan on going to the Zoo that’s several hours additional. There’s some 10+ museums in the park.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 2, 2023
  • Ceaser M
    Humble, Texas36 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Huge with Free Places to Visit
    This park has a host of tings to see and do. This is my first visit to the park but I have visited the zoo last year. Pros. Free parking Free places to visit in the park - gardens and museums. Cons Non experienced
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written October 17, 2023
  • WildernessJoe
    Orlando, Florida111 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A day well spent
    Always heard of this place and I’m so glad we visited. If you love history and street performers you will be delighted in visiting and admiring the beauty. There are street performers singing, playing instruments, lectures, movies, food and gardens and more. Its a must see, especially if you love museums.
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written December 2, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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Michael K
Fort Lee, NJ66 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
What an awesome park! Everyone knows about the San Diego Zoo located here, but there is so much more to see. Some of the gardens and museums are arguably better than the zoo in many ways, depending on your interests!

First off, many of the botanical gardens are free to visit and definitely worthwhile. Other than the Japanese garden, which we didn't want to pay for because there are so many other beautiful gardens to see for free, we found every botanical garden beautiful in their own right. There are even some hiking trails in the forest areas with some trees and vegetation worth visiting.

There are multiple museums here also, which you need to pay for, so pick and choose what you are most interested in and visit according to time and budget. There is also a neat little Mexican art market worth checking out, which is also free.

Overall, between the zoo, the museums, the gardens, beautiful architecture, buildings, fountains, and all the little spaces in between, there is lots to see here, and impossible to see all in one day. I would say you could spend 3 full days checking everything out if you wanted to see it all. Get a map and check it out! You will not be disappointed.
Written February 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mac D
Auburn, CA64 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
When a convention we were attending was cancelled mid-convention, we took our suddenly free day to visit Balboa Park. From the world class zoo to the extensive Air and Space Museum, it is a real treat. The buildings themselves are beautiful and you could spend the day just admiring the architecture. While some of the attractions have entry fees, many are free. The Timkin Art Museum is small but has works from masterpieces from all eras from medieval to modern. If you want more art, go next door to the San Diego Art Museum and for a small fee you can visit even more masterpieces. Love plants, right behind the Timkin is the horticultural building where you can walk through hundreds of exotic plants.

We spent the entire day looking at art and plants and the Globe Theatre, and on the way out, took advantage of the empty stage at the amphitheater to star in our own performances.

For those with a full day, there's also a model railroad museum, a tour of the tower, the Air & Space museum, the Museum of Man, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Photography Museum and the Automotive Museum. I'm sure I missed one or two, but you get the picture.
Written March 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

R W
Bullhead City, AZ, United States12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
We have been to Balboa Park during several of our visits to San Diego, but this is the first time we visited the Automobile Museum. It was fantastic! The displays included cars, motorbikes, and kids bikes. The displays are highly informative and provide information on the history, ownership, and other details. We highly recommend the automobile museum for any car or motorcycle buffs.
Written January 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Gardengel-IoW
West Sussex, UK889 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
Much more than I was expecting. The park is huge 1200 or so acres so have comfy shoes on. We started with the zoo which I recommend even without children, its expensive but worth it. We visited 6 of the other attractions (recommend gocity for discount card) and walked our socks off well over 20000 steps that day.
Leaving what is inside the building aside, the buildings themselves are worth the trip themselves, very large and very ornate. Lots of grass, pond, sculpture, places for food. A great day out but could easily spend longer especially if you have young children, you could spend the whole day in the zoo.
We parked for free at the zoo.
Written March 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

raymondv747
San Diego, United States14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
If planning to visit San Diego during the month of February, be sure to stay at the Hilton or stop by a public library to pick up a free museum pass to select museums and attractions around San Diego County. We sure did and it saved us a lot of money. For our length of stay, this was the better way to go rather than the popular City Pass. Be sure to make sure your museum is on the list though. We thought we saw Museum of Man listed as one of the museums offering the discount admission price to adults/kids, but we were mistaken. Thankfully, the San Diego Art Museum was offering a free exhibit that evening and we spent a good hour in there looking at everything. Interesting installation art pieces and fun to read the bios of all of the artists. This particular exhibit is geared more towards adults and teens.
Written March 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

tLynn18
Boise, ID117 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
We happened to be visiting on a Sunday when there was an organist playing at the outdoor organ in the park. It is conveniently next to the beautiful Japanese Friendship Gardens as well. Raul was our organist that day and he was fabulous! He briefly explained each piece before he played and it was a wonderful hour of beautiful music. Highly recommend this, especially if you have never sat and listened to an organ. This is one of the largest outdoor pipe organs and it is truly amazing!
Written March 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jennifer R
Henderson, NV4 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Solo
Balboa Park was fun, but So Many religious booths, and hardly any restaurants. If you want a bag of Cheetos, you are all set. I wish there was an easier way of finding out how much each Place costs or what is free. The Japanese garden was kind of expensive for what you got... The Natural History Museum was totally worth it in my very favorite part of visiting Balboa Park.
Written January 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Deb T
Bloomsburg, PA34 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
This beautiful park will appeal to many. First is the architecture with the beautiful arcades and colonnades that is both picturesque and provide some shelter from the sun. There are the gardens starting at the botanical building, the sculpture garden and extending throughout the grounds. Whether coming to escape the city or to visit the museums, there is a lot here to keep you interested. While several of the museums have a fee, there are many things to see and do that are free. This is park one could visit time and again.
Written March 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

David A
Bentonville, AR174 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
All museums that are open cost about $16 to $20 per person. No shuttle til June sometime. Plenty of parking. Nice buildings to see from the outside in the earlier exposition area.
Written May 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Stephan Hegans
Stockton, CA6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2019
Balboa Park and especially the Japanese garden are beautiful. There's a Coy pond in the garden, some of them are BIG, I mean BIG BIG and there are stepping stones across water that made my day. Little intricate balancing fountains can be seen along the stone brick paths. There's a small shop I got the Miso Soup. Outside the Japanese garden there is a botanical garden and there is a scratch and sniff game you can play with some of them (but don't get too touchy, save some plant for the rest of us).

Plenty of Art at the Park and I recommend the Museum of Man if you want to learn about Anthropology or just learn some cool facts.
Written August 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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