This is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, and one of the most diverse in the world. You could spend a week exploring its 1,200 acres (486 hectares) of walking trails and gardens, museums and galleries, theaters, restaurants, and world-famous zoo. This wealth of year-round entertainment makes it a popular location for both locals and tourists.
A good starting point is the Visitor Center in the middle of the park. Here you’ll find helpful volunteers, information on current exhibits, and a schedule of performances and events. Free, guided tours of the park are available during the week to take you around the park’s major highlights, explaining the historical, architectural and horticultural features. Check at the Visitor Center for times.
The Spanish Colonial-style buildings located around the Visitor Center house many of the city’s largest museums, galleries and theaters, including the San Diego Museum of Art, the Air & Space Museum, the Natural History Museum and a dozen more.
Performances take place year-round in the various theaters. The Old Globe, for example, stages more than 10 plays and musicals during its season.
Balboa Park’s gorgeous gardens offer a peaceful respite, including the Japanese Friendship Garden, Palm Canyon and the Inez Grant Parker Rose Gardens. The Californian Native Plant Garden showcases more than 2,600 varieties of species native to San Diego along a peaceful mile-long (1.6-kilometer) path.
If you’re looking for some fun and physical activity, head to the eastern side of the park to practice your golf swing, try your hand at petanque or bocce, or enjoy a game of tennis under the shade trees.
The park grounds are open all year, 24 hours a day. Museum operating hours vary, but most open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Just west of the downtown core, this San Diego hotel is across the street from the cruise ship terminal, Coronado ferry, and the Maritime Museum. The Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park are within 1.5 miles.
In the heart of downtown San Diego, this historic boutique hotel is 2 blocks from Horton Plaza, 4 blocks from the Gaslamp Quarter, and 6 blocks from the San Diego Convention Center and the cruise ship terminal.
Located in San Diego's Mission Valley corridor just off I-8, this San Diego hotel is a half-mile from 2 shopping centers, and within 5 miles of SeaWorld, downtown, Balboa Park, and the San Diego Zoo.
Located in Little Italy, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Maritime Museum of San Diego. USS Midway Museum and San Diego City College are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Located in Cortez Hill, this motel is within a 10-minute walk of Copley Symphony Hall and San Diego City College. Balboa Park and San Diego Convention Center are also within 1 mi (2 km).
This expansive highrise hotel towers over San Diego Bay next to the Seaport Village retail complex, 1 block from the convention center, and 2 blocks from the historic Gaslamp Quarter.
This recently renovated 4-story hotel is within 4 blocks of PETCO Park, the San Diego Convention Center, Horton Plaza shopping, and 100 restaurants and bars; Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo are a 2-minute drive away.
This traditional boutique hotel, across from shopping and dining at Horton Plaza, is 3 blocks from the historic Gaslamp Quarter and 6 blocks from the cruise ship terminal and the Convention Center.