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Visiting Balboa Park (San Diego, California)

This blog post was updated on October 31, 2018.

If you’re a fan of classical, modern or functional art, science, gemology, anthropology, photography, architecture, theater, model trains, or animals, then you’re bound to find something to love about Balboa Park, San Diego’s top tourist attraction.


Truly, it’s that diverse. Home to 15 major science and art museums, celebrated performing arts venues, lush gardens, the San Diego Zoo and a charming artist community, Balboa Park is the United States’ largest urban cultural park.


To learn more about the constantly changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, classes and to plan your visit, see their website at


You don’t have to pay anything to visit the impressive park grounds, the covered botanical garden, or the small artist community. However, there is a charge for most of the attractions, including the 14 museums and the San Diego Zoo. Visitors can purchase a “Stay for the Day” pass for $35 that allows one to visit any 5 of the 14 participating museums (San Diego Zoo not included). The pass can be purchased at any of the participating attractions or at the visitor’s center.


One of the most famous zoos in the world, The San Diego Zoo, is located in Balboa Park. Here you can see over 4000 types of rare and endangered animals. Kids (and kids at heart) will love the interactive activities throughout the zoo. For more information on hours, etc. see:


Other attractions in the park include The San Diego Natural History Museum, The Mingei International Museum (dedicated to the preservation and display of functional art objects from around the world), the San Diego Museum of Art, Centro Cultural de la Raza (dedicated to Chicano, Mexican, Indigenous and Latino art and culture), the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center (know especially for its IMAX Dome Theater), the Museum of Photographic Arts and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

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