One of my absolute favorite places in San Diego is Balboa Park. Located close to downtown, this 1,200-acre urban cultural park is home to over sixteen museums, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, numerous gardens and theaters.
Not only is Balboa Park a National Historic Landmark, it’s a favorite weekend spot for locals. You can see magicians performing outside of the Botanical Building (second picture below), exotic parrots on display for photo ops as you walk along the El Prado (a long, wide promenade that runs through the park’s center) and dogs of every shape and size enjoying themselves as they take their owners on a sunny stroll. A bonus for us San Diegans is that the first tuesday of every month is Resident’s Free Tuesdays, where San Diego County residents and active-duty military receive free admission to the museums. As though life for us here wasn’t already glorious enough.
A few weekends ago, my grandmother came into town and I spent a lovely Sunday in Balboa with my family. The main reason for our visit, besides to enjoy a delicious lunch at the El Prado restaurant and bask in the perfect San Diego sun, was to climb the California Tower. Open to the public for the first time since 1935, the California Tower is accessed through the second floor of the Museum of Man. After climbing eight flights of stairs into the sky, you are presented with a 360 degree view of the surrounding San Diego scenery. It’s breathtaking.
Prior to our tour, we wandered along the El Prado and then into the Botanical Building; witnessing an array of entertaining sights along the way such as baby coy fish, violin-players peddling for cash, picnicers enjoying what appeared to be a very refreshing pino gris, caterpillars on flower branches, and (probably most entertaining of all) a determined puppy in hot pursuit of a seemingly unaware coy fish- who somehow managed to stay just beyond his reach.
If you are ever in San Diego, add Balboa Park to your must-see list. I promise you will not be disappointed.