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Must-See Attractions at Balboa Park

the botanical building and lily pond at Balboa park

Enjoy living just 0.5 miles away from of the most beautiful and diverse attractions in San Diego - iconic Balboa Park. Here are our must-see attractions for anyone, Denizen residents included.

  • San Diego Zoo:The San Diego Zoo is a must-visit due to its extensive biodiversity, housing over 3,500 animals from 650+ species, and its leading role in global conservation efforts. The zoo features innovative and immersive exhibits, like Panda Trek and Elephant Odyssey, that mimic natural habitats. It offers various educational programs and unique experiences such as guided tours and the Skyfari aerial tram.

  • Botanical Building: One of the most photographed scenes in Balboa Park, this iconic structure is one of the largest wooden lath pavilions in the world, featuring lush ferns, orchids, and tropical plants set against the backdrop of a reflective lily pond, perfect for photography enthusiasts. This treasured historical landmark is also fragile. Founded in 2021, Forever Balboa Park is nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing, sustaining, and improving the botanical buildng and gardens through major restoration projects and programs.

  • San Diego Museum of Art: You won't want to miss this extensive collection of world art spanning 5,000 years, including European masterpieces, Asian art, Latin American works, and American paintings. The museum is renowned for its collection of Spanish art, featuring works by artists like El Greco, Goya, and Zurbarán, as well as an impressive selection of contemporary pieces. The museum also hosts an ongoing roster of high-profile traveling exhibitions. Enjoy local food and craft beer at Panama 66 in the sculpture garden.

  • The Old Globe Theatre: With a remarkable building modelled after Shakespeare's original Globe Theatre in London, San Diego's Old Globe Theater was established in 1935 and has since become a cornerstone of the city's cultural and theatrical heritage. It's renowned for its top-notch, Tony award-winning productions, from classic plays and world premieres to its annual Shakespeare Festival, bringing the Bard’s works to life in both traditional and innovative ways.

  • Japanese Friendship Garden: Designed as a symbol of the cultural bond between San Diego and Yokohama, this showcase of Japanese landscaping and architecture eatures meticulously designed koi ponds, bonsai trees, stone designs, and more. The garden also offers educational programs, workshops, and tea ceremonies. Notable features include the largest bronze statue of the Buddhist divinity Kannon in the United States. Be sure to savor a serene experience at the Tea Pavillion.

  • Museum of Us: A must-visit for its unique focus on anthropology, offering interactive exhibits that explore human culture, history, and evolution. Popular exhibits include "Kumeyaay: Native Californians", '"Race: Are We So Different?" which examines the social construct and impacts of race, and "Monsters!" which delves into the cultural significance of mythical creatures.

  • Spreckels Organ Pavilion: Home to the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world, this pavilion hosts free weekly concerts and special performances, ranging from classical music to popular and film scores. Over 4,500 pipes deliver a powerful and melodious sound. Visitors also love the pavillion's beautiful Italian Renaissance-style architecture.

  • Balboa Park Carousel: Dating back to 1910, this mesmerizing ride features hand-carved wooden menagerie animals like giraffes, zebras, and dragons, making it one of the few remaining carousels of its kind in the entire world. It also operates a very charming, traditional brass ring game.

  • San Diego Air & Space Museum: This comprehensive collection spans the entire history of aviation and space exploration, with rare and historic craft that include the original Apollo 9 Command Module and a GPS satellite display. The museum's affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution also extends to immersive flight simulators and other interactive displays.

  • Spanish Village Art Center: This working artist colony features over 200 local artist studios within a setting that resembles a traditional Spanish village. Visitors get to watch talented artisans as they create everything from original painting and sculpture to jewelry, glasswork, and more. You can purchase one-of-a-kind pieces directly from the artists.

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