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 institutions and captivating gardens. You will visit spots that even locals don’t know about. Keep the camera handy for what might be the prettiest tour in town!
Discover the inspiring, quirky, and fascinating history of one of the nation’s largest urban cultural parks on a private tour
Uncover historical and architectural treasures hiding in plain sight
Explore a botanical garden’s vibrant collection of more than 2,100 plants
Learn about the early 20th-century expositions that shaped Balboa Park
Find the best spots to photograph Balboa Park’s beautiful Spanish colonial revival architecture
Balboa Park is home to gorgeous gardens, lovely walking paths, and plenty of cultural gems, from theatres to museums featuring the arts, the sciences, and more. You’ll get a full overview of the park and its rich history on this private San Diego walking tour that explores how the park bacame a symbol of the city.
We’ll kick things off at the Founder’s Statue on the west side of the park. We think you’ll agree San Diegans were visionaries when they set aside 1800 acres of land for the park all the way back in 1867. Then we’ll stop at the California Tower, built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, it has since become a city landmark. The face of the tower depicts the early history of the city.
Next up, we’ll head to Alcazar Gardens, which were inspired by the same-named gardens in Spain. Used for both the 1915 and 1935 expositions, the garden offered fair-goers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the exposition, and now provides a picturesque foreground to photos of the California Tower. Snag the perfect Instagram shot while you’re here.
Following after, we’ll head to the Old Globe Theater which is a Tony Award-winning, world-renowned professional theatre group.
From there, we’ll walk through the heart of the Prado, where you’ll get to spy unique building façades and roof supports that most visitors don’t notice. We’ll also check out Zoro Gardens, a sunken garden that was once a nudist colony (seriously) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. Today, it’s a butterfly garden that contains everything butterflies need for their full life cycle.
We’ll then continue past the Bea Evenson fountain, the Natural History Museum and we’ll pop into the Spanish Village Art Center to observe artists at work in their studios. By now you will have worked up a thirst so we’ll grab a drink at a local coffee cart before continuing on past one of the largest Morton Bay fig trees in California and the San Diego Junior Theater.
But we’re not done yet! We’ll then head to the Botanical Building (currently closed on Thursdays), home to more than 2,100 plants, It’s the perfect stop for photographers and flower-lovers alike, and the adjacent lily pond full of koi makes more than just a pretty picture — you’ll learn how the pond was an important part of the war effort during WWI and how it helped injured sailors and soldiers during WWII.
Our tour will end at the Plaza de Panama, but before we say goodbye, your guide will give you directions to the nearby Visitor Center (for snacks, maps, souvenirs, and museum passes), suggestions for places to eat, and tips on what else to see and do within the park.
Meeting point: Next to Founder’s Plaza statues between 6th Ave and Balboa Drive on Laurel Street at the west entrance of Balboa Park. They are located in Sefton Plaza and are directly across the street from the Lawn Bowling Club.
San Diego, CA
Aug 18, 2020 - ongoing
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Recurs every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Guests 1-2 $168; each add'l guest $84 (12 max)
Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.
For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.
English | Change Language