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Summer in Balboa Park

The cultural heart of San Diego

Summer is a time to relax, explore and enjoy—and there’s no better place to perfect the art of summer than in Balboa Park. At 1,200 acres, this cultural gem is an outdoor wonderland that offers a variety of ways to appreciate summer’s sunny days as well as its sultry nights.

Balboa Park Logo

As writer Charles Bowden once said: “Summertime is the best of what might be.”

And now more than ever we need this summer season to provide some warmth and respite. Luckily, San Diego is blessed with Balboa Park, one of the largest urban cultural parks in the country. With its expansive grounds and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, the park is uniquely designed to allow you to savor the sights and sounds of summer amid a pretty splendid backdrop.

TAKE A HIKE

Balboa Park has some 65 miles of trails that differ in length, difficulty and scenery from leisurely strolls through the heart of the park to challenging hikes amid the park’s more rugged terrain and vegetation. You won’t want to miss Florida Canyon, which provides a glimpse into how the park—and San Diego for that matter— looked back some 150 years ago. The 19 different trails begin at one of five gateways that are located at Golden Hill, Marston Point, Morley Field, Park Boulevard, and at Sixth and Upas. No matter when you start or where you end, you’ll get a chance to commune with nature while staying close to downtown.

GANDER AT GARDENS

With more than 19 garden spots throughout the park, there is more than enough flora and fauna to find and fancy. Looking for a rosy point of view? Head to the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. This award-winning three-acre garden off Park Boulevard is home to some 1,600 roses and more than 130 varieties. Right next door is the Desert Garden—one of two in the park—containing more than 1,300 succulents and drought-resistant plants from around the world, including a towering candelabra cactus. If you still haven’t gotten your cactus fill, you should head over to the newly revitalized Old Cactus Garden, which Kate Sessions developed for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. Overlooking the 163 Highway, it contains some of the largest cactus and succulent specimens in the park.

PICK A PICNIC

There’s nothing that says summer like a picnic, and Balboa Park has any number of grassy spots that serve as the perfect place to take a seat and soak it all in. There’s the West Mesa’s extensive lawn that offers plenty of space to spread out and roam free along with trees for shade. If you a looking to have some libations as part of your picnic plan, you can’t beat the East and West lawns in front of the Botanical Building, which was built in 1915. Not only is the backdrop stunning but you can also bring your own alcoholic beverage—just so long as it is not in glass. If you’re not big into planning but still want to plop down on a picnic blanket and enjoy an adult beverage of some sort, then head to Panama 66. There you’ll find an array of local craft beers, wines and cocktails as well as picnic blankets behind the bar that you can lay down on the grass of the San Diego Museum of Art’s Marcy S. May Sculpture Garden. You’ll even have the iconic California Tower serving as your backdrop.

Balboa Park Deals

Galleries & Museums

Kids Go Free to The San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Museum of Art
Valid: Oct 1 - Oct 31, 2020

The San Diego Museum of Art houses some of the world’s finest art. Located in the heart of Balboa Park, the Museum’s internationally renowned collection of more than 20,000...

Activity

Kids Go Free at San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo
Valid: Oct 1 - Oct 31, 2020

Located adjacent to downtown San Diego in Balboa Park, the Zoo is 100 acres in size and is home to more than 4,000 animals representing more than 800 species from around the world. Spend the day...

Events in Balboa Park

Event

Dine Diego

California Restaurant Association San Diego County
Sep 15 - Oct 15, 2020

San Diego’s favorite foodie event, San Diego Restaurant Week will take a break this September.  Instead, Dine Diego (presented by San Diego Restaurant Week), will run September 15 through...

Event

Masterpiece Minute

San Diego Museum of Art
Jun 4, 2020 - ongoing

This 60-second weekly podcast series shares the fascinating story, historical context, and significance behind important works in The San Diego Museum of Art collection.

Event

Modeler Citizens Virtual Lecture Series

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Nov 12, 2020

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum has debuted Modeler Citizens, a series of informative and entertaining presentations from an array of acclaimed railroad modelers and historians!  The talks...

Event

Word Up!

The Old Globe
Aug 11 - Nov 1, 2020

Word Up! is a fun, festive, word-based online collaboration between audience and artist, hosted by Laura Zablit on Friday nights at 6 pm PST. This Mad Lib-style communal storytelling will feature a...

Event

Sights & Sips Cocktail Cruises

Hornblower Cruises & Events
Apr 3 - ongoing

This Sunset Cruise is a one-of-a-kind happy hour with a complimentary glass of champagne, passed & stationary hors d'oeuvres and drink specials every Friday and Saturday night all summer long! The...

Event

Private Tour: Balboa Park

San Diego Urban Adventures
Aug 18, 2020 - ongoing

Explore one of the country’s best urban cultural parks on a private tour with a local guide. Balboa Park has a bit of everything, including grand architecture, diverse museums, cultural...

Exploring Balboa Park

Whether you're an art fan, nature lover, model train aficionado or science geek, Balboa Park has something for everyone. 

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