Welcome to Balboa Park

There is no place on Earth like Balboa Park.

History, art, architecture and green-space, all contribute to its magic. Called the “Smithsonian of the West” because of the close proximity of its 15 museums, it is so much more.

An outstanding collection of museums, theaters, performing arts venues and one of the world’s finest Zoological parks entertain and educate millions of visitors each year. A multitude of recreational opportunities may also be found in this splendid setting.

Here the visitor can explore formal lawn bowling and hiking trails…folk-dancing and jazz ballet…award-winning Shakespeare and the world’s largest motion pictures. Everything from hands-on science and serious art to puppetry and pandas exist side by side with a recreation center for the blind and a disc (Frisbee®) golf course…A visit doesn’t have to be expensive—in fact a whole day can be spent without laying out much cash at all.

For less than you would spend at Disneyland for the day, you can experience most of the Park’s cultural attractions–if you have the stamina for it! But it’s also possible to enjoy the gorgeous outdoor environment and recreational offerings without spending more than the cost of the gas to get there and maybe a picnic lunch.

These days there is an admission charge for almost all major museums around the world. It’s just not possible for municipalities to cover the large cost of operating a fine museum with tax money. Balboa Park’s museums are no different. But they do make their wonderful collections available to San Diego County residents free one weekday each month (with a few exceptions), and in most cases at a greatly reduced cost to students on field trips.

(excerpted from the Introduction to Discover Balboa Park, 2nd Edition, © Ridgway Park Publishing)

An outstanding collection of museums, theaters, performing arts venues and one of the world’s finest zoological parks entertain and educate millions of visitors each year. A multitude of recreational opportunities may also be found in this splendid setting.

Discover Balboa Park, the official guidebook of the Balboa Park Visitors Center, gives the reader inside info on the history, architecture, horticulture and cultural attractions Balboa Park is known for. But you will also discover…

  • How to visit on a budget
  • How to get the most out of your Zoo visit
  • Most romantic places
  • Suggested itineraries
  • What’s special for children
  • Where to find the gardens