Balboa Park & Surrounding Neighborhoods

With a high concentration of museums and dozens of attractions, Balboa Park and the surrounding area offers lots of options to keep you entertained all day.
Balboa Park & Surrounding Area
Overview
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The Neighborhood
Famous For
Balboa Park
Museums
San Diego Zoo
Nightlife
LGBTQ+ Friendly
Sidewalk Cafés
Breweries
Stay Nearby

Enjoy All the Balboa Park Area Has to Offer

It isn’t hard to see just what makes Balboa Park so special. Amidst its most famous attractions like the world-famous San Diego Zoo, plenty of museums, and of course the park itself, it’s also home to an excellent nightlife scene, plenty of breweries, a great walkable area, many sidewalk cafés, and a vibrant LGBTQ+ positive culture.

Of course, Balboa Park isn’t the only notable locale in the area. This neighborhood also includes Hillcrest, Bankers Hill to the west, and North Park and South Park on opposite ends of the 1,200-acre green.

Balboa Park is fairly flat with moderate inclines, so you shouldn’t have much difficulty traversing the terrain here. It benefits from typical sunny San Diego weather without being so close to the coast that you’ll experience wind chill on most days.

Given the sheer number of attractions in the area, your first question when planning your trip won’t be “What is there to do?” Instead, you’ll find yourself wondering just how you’re going to fit everything into your schedule!

Bundle museums and SAVE!

The New Children's Museum
The New Children's Museum
Nurture creativity and imagination in San Diego's youngest artists! The New Children's Museum offers multiple hands-on and interactive displays to engage growing minds. Spend the day exploring this museum, and the ever changing exhibits!
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Local Tips
What is a Go San Diego Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass allows visitors to experience more attractions while simultaneously saving money.

With the pass, you can visit San Diego’s top attractions like the San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND, all while saving up to 55% off on admissions. Plus, the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

Locating Balboa Park and its Nearby Neighborhoods

You’re never far from Downtown San Diego in Balboa Park, which is just a five-minute drive north of the city center. You can also take public transportation, which includes accessibility options. The San Diego International Airport is only a few blocks to the west as well.

Once you’ve arrived at the park, there’s lots to do. Grab tickets for an immersive IMAX show at The Fleet Science Center, or spend a day at the San Diego Zoo and find out what makes it so famous. Whatever you choose to look at first, you definitely won’t be short on ways to fill your schedule!

You can further improve your trip by buying a Go San Diego pass, which offers discounted rates on ticket prices and gear rentals throughout all of San Diego. Better yet, if you buy your pass ahead of time using our link, you’ll save even more!

Plan to stay in one of the nearby hotels if you want to avoid the hassle of finding a good parking spot. You can’t go wrong with the Andaz San Diego, a Concept by Hyatt. This hotel is close to exciting attractions like Petco Park and the Convention Center, and it’s also a great spot for families.

This is far from the only high-quality hotel in the area. For more options, have a look at our top picks for the Best Hotels near the San Diego Zoo, all of which will keep you within the Balboa Park area.

Popular Activities

San Diego Air and Space Museum
San Diego Air and Space Museum
Discounts Available
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The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
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Balboa Park Scavenger Hunt
Balboa Park Scavenger Hunt
$44 per group
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Balboa Park’s Notable Attractions

Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Biking
Biking
Museums
Museums
Picnic Tables
Picnic Tables
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo
Skateboarding
Skateboarding

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of San Diego, the Balboa Park area is well-known for its events, attractions, and experiences. Its greatest claims to fame are the park’s museums and the San Diego Zoo, but people visit year-round for the selection of breweries, cafés, and nightlife venues. It’s also a highly walkable area, and the community here is known for being very LGBTQ+ friendly.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is an attraction in its own right, boasting grassy areas that makes for a great spot to rest and get your bearings. Stretch out on the many grassy areas and enjoy a picnic, or take in the gorgeous scenery decorated with orchids, roses, water lilies, and other local flora.

Casa Del Prado Theater in Balboa Park
Balboa Park, San Diego is family-friendly fun for all ages! This walkable area is home to top San Diego attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and numerous museums. It also hosts activities such as bike riding, hiking and shopping, while offering park space and picnic tables for public use.

Museums

Balboa Park is home to 17 museums and counting. These museums cover a diverse range of topics including classic and contemporary art, photography, history, space, aeronautics, automobiles, railroads, and more. No matter where your interests lie, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you.

Casa Del Prado Theater in Balboa Park
Balboa Park, San Diego is family-friendly fun for all ages! This walkable area is home to top San Diego attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and numerous museums. It also hosts activities such as bike riding, hiking and shopping, while offering park space and picnic tables for public use.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is fun for people of all ages. See local and exotic animals and their exhibits, catch a show, or tour the botanical gardens. With over 3,500 animals from 800 different species, there’s always something new to see no matter how many times you visit.

Casa Del Prado Theater in Balboa Park
Balboa Park, San Diego is family-friendly fun for all ages! This walkable area is home to top San Diego attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and numerous museums. It also hosts activities such as bike riding, hiking and shopping, while offering park space and picnic tables for public use.

Nightlife

Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean the party has to stop. Head to the neighborhoods that surround Balboa Park to experience a vibrant nightlife full of clubs, cocktail lounges, pubs, and bars. Hit the dance floor at a nightclub, or share some drinks with your partner—whatever you prefer, you’ll find it here!

Lgbtq Flag in Hillcrest
Hillcrest is San Diego’s best known LGBTQ+ neighborhood. Immerse yourself into the lively nightlife after a day of visiting the neighboring renowned San Diego Zoo and museums. This walkable neighborhood features local cafés, parks and shopping boutiques. Bike or stroll through the diverse atmosphere that is Hillcrest, San Diego.
North Park Sign
North Park borders Balboa Park. Choose a day of touring the world-famous San Diego Zoo and its neighboring assortment of museums. Or be a part of the exciting nightlife, and walk to the nearby breweries, delectable cafés, and unique shopping boutiques! Bring the whole family to enjoy a fun-filled retreat!
Outside Patio at the Station Tavern in South Park
South Park is wonderful for a couples’ getaway! Stay near the world-famous San Diego Zoo, located in neighboring Balboa Park. Check out local hiking and biking trails, picturesque parks, or dive into the vibrant local nightlife. Delectable cafés and exceptional shopping boutiques are never more than a few blocks away!

LGBTQ+ Friendly

The Balboa Park area is very LGBTQ+ friendly, with a welcoming atmosphere for all visitors. It has hosted pop-up exhibits celebrating the community’s history and artwork by LGBTQ+ creators, alongside other events celebrating pride such as the annual pride parade in nearby Hillcrest. It’s also a popular inclusive wedding venue.

Lgbtq Flag in Hillcrest
Hillcrest is San Diego’s best known LGBTQ+ neighborhood. Immerse yourself into the lively nightlife after a day of visiting the neighboring renowned San Diego Zoo and museums. This walkable neighborhood features local cafés, parks and shopping boutiques. Bike or stroll through the diverse atmosphere that is Hillcrest, San Diego.

Sidewalk Cafés

If you’ve worked up an appetite visiting the beaches and museums throughout San Diego, try one of Balboa Park’s sidewalk cafés! The authentic local cuisine at these restaurants can’t be beat, and when you sit outside, you get to enjoy an immersive atmosphere that showcases classic laid-back SoCal culture.

Beautiful Grassy Areas and Open Fields on the Edge of Bankers Hill in Balboa Park
Bring your loved ones to this delightful neighborhood, located right next to Balboa Park, which is full of popular local attractions, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Bankers Hill is a walkable neighborhood, lined with sidewalk cafés, shopping boutiques and quaint parks perfect for an afternoon stroll or bike ride.
Amazing Pizza Shop Luigis Pizzaria in Golden Hill
Take the family for a stroll through the eclectic architecture, quaint shops and historic buildings of Golden Hill. Overlooking Downtown San Diego and conveniently located near Balboa Park, Gaslamp Quarter & East Village, spend a day at a local sidewalk café, park, bike riding or the nearby world-famous San Diego Zoo.
North Park Sign
North Park borders Balboa Park. Choose a day of touring the world-famous San Diego Zoo and its neighboring assortment of museums. Or be a part of the exciting nightlife, and walk to the nearby breweries, delectable cafés, and unique shopping boutiques! Bring the whole family to enjoy a fun-filled retreat!
Outside Patio at the Station Tavern in South Park
South Park is wonderful for a couples’ getaway! Stay near the world-famous San Diego Zoo, located in neighboring Balboa Park. Check out local hiking and biking trails, picturesque parks, or dive into the vibrant local nightlife. Delectable cafés and exceptional shopping boutiques are never more than a few blocks away!

Breweries

Whether you’re looking for a refreshing craft twist on an old classic or a unique IPA you can’t get anywhere else, the breweries around Balboa Park offer some of the best selections in the area. Here, you’ll find everything from your typical pub atmosphere to well-decorated patios and upscale taprooms.

Lgbtq Flag in Hillcrest
Hillcrest is San Diego’s best known LGBTQ+ neighborhood. Immerse yourself into the lively nightlife after a day of visiting the neighboring renowned San Diego Zoo and museums. This walkable neighborhood features local cafés, parks and shopping boutiques. Bike or stroll through the diverse atmosphere that is Hillcrest, San Diego.
North Park Sign
North Park borders Balboa Park. Choose a day of touring the world-famous San Diego Zoo and its neighboring assortment of museums. Or be a part of the exciting nightlife, and walk to the nearby breweries, delectable cafés, and unique shopping boutiques! Bring the whole family to enjoy a fun-filled retreat!
Outside Patio at the Station Tavern in South Park
South Park is wonderful for a couples’ getaway! Stay near the world-famous San Diego Zoo, located in neighboring Balboa Park. Check out local hiking and biking trails, picturesque parks, or dive into the vibrant local nightlife. Delectable cafés and exceptional shopping boutiques are never more than a few blocks away!

Featured Activity

Entrance to the San Diego Natural History Museum
San Diego Natural History Museum
Visit the San Diego Natural History Museum, enjoy interactive exhibits about the natural history of Southern California, past and present. The museum spans five floors and offers something for everyone.
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Balboa Park & Surrounding Neighborhoods
are Known For:
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Breweries
Breweries
LGBTQ+ Friendly
LGBTQ+ Friendly
Museums
Museums
Nightlife
Nightlife
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
Walkable
Walkable
This Month's Forecast
62℉ / 76℉
Partly Cloudy in June
Jul
66℉ / 81℉
Sunny in July
Aug
68℉ / 83℉
Sunny in August
Sep
66℉ / 82℉
Sunny in September

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