Balboa Park, one of the most lovely spots in all of San Diego county, is an endlessly breathtaking urban and cultural park spanning over 1,200 acres in the heart of downtown San Diego. Museums, gardens, arts and international culture, fine dining and the world-famous San Diego Zoo all call Balboa Park home. A perfect San Diego day can be spent strolling through this vast park, making stops to people-watch, take in the arts and culture and to dine.
The Spanish-style architecture, as you can see, is stunning. We had a great excuse to visit Balboa Park for a childhood friend's wedding when I was home visiting San Diego last month, however, I would have found a way to work in a visit there no matter what. No visit home to San Diego would be complete without at least a few hours spent at Balboa Park.
In the above image, you can see the Botanical Building with its domed brown roof. Inside, you will find plants and species from across the globe. Just in front of the Botanical Buildings is the famous Lily Pond, perhaps the most recognizable feature of all of Balboa Park.
From the Lily Pond, you can make your way down that famous palm tree lined boulevard that sits at the heart of Balboa Park, from one end to the other. It is here that you might run into small groups of children eagerly watching a magician or gatherings of people standing and listening to a musician.
Its dozens of Museums leave you with a plethora of options to satisfy your cultural senses including, but not limited to, the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
You won't be at a loss for great places to eat, the most delicious of which is hands-down The Prado at Balboa Park. Also a popular place for wedding ceremonies and event receptions, the Prado is a classy Spanish style restaurant with beautiful courtyard terraces, great food and a charming ambiance.
Nearby is the Tea Pavilion, a small Japanese-style teahouse and its accompanying Japanese Friendship Garden. A small fee gains you entrance inside. It's well worth it though, for this is another one of my favorite spots in Balboa Park. The perfectly manicured landscape always puts me a happy state of mind.
Right next to the Tea Pavilion and Japanese Friendship Garden is the Organ Pavilion, one of the more well-known stops in Balboa Park. This place is famous for concerts and events as well as weddings, photo-ops and quinceaneras.
Here's some more scenery in and around Balboa Park as we make our way to the Alcazar Gardens, just one of 19 different gardens in the entirety of Balboa Park. For me, this is a garden lover's paradise.
And here we are at Alcazar Garden, which is modeled after the gardens at the Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain for which it is named. This garden is known for its ornate fountains, exquisite turquoise blue, yellow and green Moorish tiles and shady pergola. You won't be at a loss for a beautiful scene inside this stunning setting.
That bell tower that you see, like many things in Balboa Park, is a famous one. It stems from the Old Globe Theater, one of the most esteemed regional theaters in the country. Here, fifteen plays and musicals are produced each year from the renowned Summer Shakespeare Festival to world-premiere productions that have gone on to Broadway.
On our way out, we had to make a pit-stop at the colorful Spanish Village, home to a generous host of artist studios and galleries including working painters, sculptors, metalsmiths, jewelry designers, clay artists, gourd artists, photographers, printmakers, fiber artists, basket weavers, mixed-media artists, glass artists, and more. Whew, that's a lot! You can really feel the artistic energy on the grounds of this colorful village.
If you've been to Balboa Park and are a native San Diegan like me, you will recognize this famous tree that you probably played on as a kid. This 100-year-old Moreton Bay Fig Tree is one of the oldest trees in all of California. It's no longer available for climbing, but I had to snap a picture of it for the sake of childhood memories.
At long last, after our fun time in Balboa Park (where we only scratched the surface of what there was to see) it was time to head to the wedding. It was truly a beautiful day for a wedding, as several fall days are in San Diego. On any given weekend day, there are probably a handful of weddings going on at once in different locations inside Balboa Park. Seeing a bride and groom walking the grounds is a sure thing if you visit Balboa Park on a Saturday or Sunday.
The happy couple sealed their vows and tied the knot, walking out a Mr. & a Mrs. (well, actually a Mr. and a Dr. I am pleased to say) and our day in Balboa Park had come to an end. For more information on Balboa Park and its endless amount of options, see their website here: http://www.balboapark.org/