||San Diego, CA|
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Balboa Park is a beautiful place to go for a stroll or run. Pop into the Alcazar Garden, a walled garden with a star-shaped Spanish fountain and flower beds. Next check out the colorful central pedestrian square (Plaza de Panama) with its bright umbrellas and fountain. This area is gorgeous at night. See the lavish architecture all around, such as the Museum of Man (anthropology), which was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Its tiled California Tower stretches to the blue sky, and contains a carillon that sounds every fifteen minutes. You can climb the tower for about $10 extra, and see views of the surrounding downtown area. The Museum of Man has interactive exhibits for kids such as the Monsters! Exhibit, where you walk through a child's bedroom, forest, cave and ocean, and learn about yeti, kraken, unicorns and dragons. There is also an interactive exhibit for kids about ancient Egypt.
Also in the central square is the Mingei International Museum in a delightful building called the House of Charm, also built for the 1915 exposition (rebuilt in 1996). Check out its Spanish bell towers and adorable pointed rounded extensions with small circular windows. It was built to resemble the Sanctuary of Guadalupe in Guadalajara, Mexico! Inside, the museum showcases folk art, craft and design.
Across from the House of Charm is the House of Hospitality, which was also rebuilt in 1996. Walk into the tropical courtyard and admire the fountain with a sculpture of an Indian woman with pottery. Near the benches check out the wooden multi-colored carved decorations reminiscent of an abacus. Here you can grab a cup of coffee from the refreshment stand and also pop into the Visitor Center.
Don't miss the Casa de Balboa and lily pond, behind the House of Hospitality.
There are many other museums to visit, including the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, which has fun models of the railway areas of various cities across the USA. San Diego Air and Space Museum is packed with planes. Both of these museum are a little dusty and not interactive.
The San Diego Museum of Art (in the central pedestrian square) is a small museum with some good European art and a patio cafe.
There are gardens to check out, such as the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Desert Garden, and the small Botanical Building fronted by a reflection pond. Stop by the Visitors Center near the Alcazar Garden to pick up a map.
Further south in the park is the San Diego Zoo, the 1910 children's carousel, and the miniature railroad which opens at 11am.
The Organ Pavilion parking lot, at the intersection of Pan American Rd East and President's Way, gives you good access to everything and holds a lot of spaces.
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The Organ Pavilion parking lot, at the intersection of Pan American Rd East and President's Way, gives you good access to everything and holds a lot of spaces. Parking is free.
The Alcazar parking lot is awesome as its right by the Museum of Man, but it's often full unless you come early.
Museum of Man, 1350 El Prado, San Diego 92101, call (619) 239-2001. Open daily 10-5. Closed on Thanksgiving (fourth Thurs in Nov) and Dec 25. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $10 for military and seniors 62+, $8 for students, and $6 for youth aged 3-12. Extra charge for tower tour and instruments of torture exhibit.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating:
|Balboa Park is very classy with nice people and great museums.|