Balboa Park

Vacation Travel Guide
Balboa Park which includes a pond

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.

Top things to do in Balboa Park

Top Hotels Close to Balboa Park

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
4 out of 5
1 Market Pl, San Diego, CA
Fully refundable
The price is $134 per night from Dec 19 to Dec 19
Located in Downtown San Diego, this romantic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Seaport Village, San Diego Convention Center, and USS Midway Museum. Petco Park ...
4.4/5 Wonderful! (3,497 reviews)
"I likes the view from our room. Partly water, partly City. We were perplexed by the person who handled our check-in. She kept asking us very personal questions seemingly about our car. She kept trying to get at it from another angle. If she was trying to sell us something she was sure going about ..."

Reviewed on Dec 1, 2021

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Wyndham San Diego Bayside
Wyndham San Diego Bayside
4 out of 5
1355 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA
The price is $135 per night from Dec 15 to Dec 15
Located in Downtown San Diego, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of USS Midway Museum, Balboa Park, and San Diego Convention Center. San Diego Zoo and Harbor ...
4/5 Very Good! (4,606 reviews)
"In general, it was good!"

Reviewed on Dec 1, 2021

Wyndham San Diego Bayside
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
4 out of 5
207 5th Ave, San Diego, CA
The price is $169 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 5
Located in Gaslamp Quarter, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Petco Park and San Diego Convention Center. Seaport Village and USS Midway Museum are also ...
4.1/5 Very Good! (1,700 reviews)
"I guess tge way the operator would answer when i would ask for service or called to ask a question . He seemed to be bothered tou can hear it in his tone of voice . Which felt kinda of uncomfortable to ask any questions"

Reviewed on Dec 2, 2021

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Plan a trip to see Balboa Park

The Inn At Rancho Santa Fe, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

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Balboa Park

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Best Lodging Options Near Balboa Park

Baymont by Wyndham San Diego Downtown
Baymont by Wyndham San Diego Downtown
2.5 out of 5
719 Ash St, San Diego, CA
The price is $79 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 5
Baymont by Wyndham San Diego Downtown
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
4 out of 5
1 Market Pl, San Diego, CA
The price is $134 per night from Dec 19 to Dec 19
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Wyndham San Diego Bayside
Wyndham San Diego Bayside
4 out of 5
1355 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA
The price is $135 per night from Dec 15 to Dec 15
Wyndham San Diego Bayside
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
4 out of 5
207 5th Ave, San Diego, CA
The price is $169 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 5
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside
Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside
3.5 out of 5
2137 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA
The price is $187 per night from Jan 3 to Jan 3
Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside
Porto Vista Hotel
Porto Vista Hotel
3.5 out of 5
1835 Columbia St, San Diego, CA
The price is $109 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 5
Porto Vista Hotel
Best Western Seven Seas
Best Western Seven Seas
3 out of 5
411 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA
The price is $80 per night from Jan 2 to Jan 2
Best Western Seven Seas
The Sofia Hotel
The Sofia Hotel
3.5 out of 5
150 W Broadway, San Diego, CA
The price is $140 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 5
The Sofia Hotel
Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside, CA
Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside, CA
3.5 out of 5
2137 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA
The price is $152 per night from Dec 12 to Dec 12
Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside, CA
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.