A stroll through Balboa Park, San Diego
Balboa park was established in 1868 but didn’t really start taking it’s current shape until much later. In 1892 ‘The Mother of Balboa Park’ Kate Sessions, offered to plant trees and plants in the park which was 1400 acres at the time. Some of these trees still stand today. Below here is one of my most favorites. The Moreton Bay fig at Palm Canyon. It’s massive roots are not only amazing but also inspire lots of whimsical imaginations of quaint fairy homes and secret adventures; but they mainly function as playground and an elegant apartment complex to lots of squirrels.
At the start of the 19th century the city installed a water system and roads and the park started taking the shape it has today. San Diego Natural History Museum was one of the first followed by 17 more: https://www.balboapark.org/explore/museums Each and everyone is worth a visit. My personal favorites are Museum of Man, San Diego Natural History Museum, Fleet Science Center and the Railroad Museum (especially at Christmas time). I also really like the Air and Space museum and Museum of art. I’ll be very excited to see the new Comic Con museum when it opens.
The first fair, the Panama – California Exposition in 1915-16, introduced the area to the Spanish-Renaissance style architecture and led to the building of, amongst many other things, the Cabrillo bridge that leads into the park, Casa del Prado and the Spreckles Organ Pavilion.
The Spanish Renaissance architecture style is ornamented and very detailed. If you’re interested in such details you can spend easily find yourself spending a lot of time looking up at these very impressive buildings. Below is Prado Restaurant and Casa del Prado.
Below here are the entrances The Museum of Man (currently under construction) and Museum of Art
I’m at the park nearly every weekend. My favorite place for a little snack and the best blood orange tea ever, is right inside the Prado restaurant entrance you can see above. There’s a little outside cafe. The tea is not listed on the menu!
If you turn around while waiting in line here, you’ll see this guy, El Cid Campeador, a medieval knight of the Eleventh century fearlessly and victoriously raising his hand to the sky. It is said to be from the siege of Valencia in 1094. There are copies of this statue in many other cities such as Buenos Aires, New York, Seville, Valencia and San Francisco. The artist, Anna Hyatt Huntington started creating him in 1927 and he found his home here in 1930.
There are events at the park all the time. It can be anything from a marathon to cultural performances, local artist and street performers, and on this day when we went, it was the Spring Fling food truck Festival!
This is a link to upcoming events:
The botanical garden and the lily pond are probably the most photographed in the whole park and definitely a must see. The gardens are free. The Botanical building is one of the largest lath structures in the world and was built for the 1915-16 Exposition. The garden features tropical plants and palms, orchids, ferns, cycads and seasonal flowers.
Take some time to go inside.
We got to see ducklings frolicking in the pond and on the lily pods…
If you feel like you haven’t quite had your fill of flowers and gardens for the day, continue to the Japanese Friendship Garden. It is garden expressing friendship between San Diego and it’s sister city Yokohama. It’s a beautiful experience of Japanese simplicity, serenity, culture and koi ponds. It sits on 12 acres and often offers it’s own events and festivals.
Before you leave… don’t forget to make a wish at this wishing well. It’s located between the Japanese Garden and the Prado Restaurant.
Things to know…
-Parking can be a challenge but there’s a free tram you can take around the park from some of the bigger parking lots.
-The San Diego Zoo is a part of Balboa park and was established in 1916 during the Exposition and is another absolute must see. It’s famous for it’s conservation efforts and home to many rare and endangered species. The zoo will take a whole day to visit and there will be a blog post coming on it soon!
-Check out my blog on the Rose and Desert Garden at the park.