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Balboa Park

Culture and nature converge in this diverse park located in the heart of the city.

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.


Guide to Exploring around Balboa Park


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Map

Lodging Near Balboa Park

See all 1,321 Properties near Balboa Park
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego $169
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

207 5th Ave, San Diego
     
    4.3
    of 5, from 3,244 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    The Hard Rock Hotel is in the center of San Diego's bustling Gaslamp Quarter, with restaurants, bars, and nightlife. The San Diego Convention Center is across the street and PETCO Park is a block away.

    Town and Country San Diego $129
    Town and Country San Diego

    Town and Country San Diego

    500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego
       
      3.4
      of 5, from 1,977 reviews
      3.5 out of 5.0

      Comprising 32 acres, this resort and conference center is next to the 27-hole Riverwalk Golf Club; Old Town, Balboa Park, SeaWorld San Diego, and the world famous San Diego Zoo are just minutes away.

      The Sofia Hotel $120
      The Sofia Hotel

      The Sofia Hotel

      150 W Broadway, San Diego
         
        4.3
        of 5, from 7,742 reviews
        3.5 out of 5.0

        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.

        Baymont by Wyndham San Diego Downtown $79
        Baymont by Wyndham San Diego Downtown

        Baymont by Wyndham San Diego Downtown

        719 Ash St, San Diego
           
          3.2
          of 5, from 1,613 reviews
          2.5 out of 5.0

          The modern Baymont by Wyndham San Diego Downtown places guests 2 miles (3.2 km) from San Diego International Airport and a half-mile from the city center. The shopping, dining, and nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter is a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

          THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego $179
          THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego

          THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego

          326 Broadway, San Diego
             
            4.5
            of 5, from 1,914 reviews
            5.0 out of 5.0

            The palatial US Grant is in the center of downtown San Diego, facing the Westfield Horton Plaza retail and entertainment complex, and adjacent to the Gaslamp Quarter's vibrant nightlife and myriad restaurants.

            Best Western Seven Seas $107
            Best Western Seven Seas

            Best Western Seven Seas

            411 Hotel Circle South, San Diego
               
              3.7
              of 5, from 8,843 reviews
              3.0 out of 5.0

              Adjacent to I-8, this budget-friendly hotel is within 6 miles of 2 sports stadiums, the Gaslamp Quarter, the convention center, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, shopping malls, Fashion Valley & Mission Valley.

              Motel 6 San Diego Downtown $72
              Motel 6 San Diego Downtown

              Motel 6 San Diego Downtown

              1546 2nd Avenue, San Diego
                 
                3.2
                of 5, from 855 reviews
                2.0 out of 5.0

                Located in Downtown San Diego, this motel is within 1 mi (2 km) of San Diego Opera, San Diego Convention Center, and Maritime Museum of San Diego. San Diego City College and USS Midway Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km).

                Wyndham San Diego Bayside $161
                Wyndham San Diego Bayside

                Wyndham San Diego Bayside

                1355 N Harbor Drive, San Diego
                   
                  3.9
                  of 5, from 7,114 reviews
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  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.