The Best Things to Do at Balboa Park
One of the reasons Balboa Park is popular is that there are so many things to do. No matter what your idea of a dream vacation is, this place belongs at the top of your bucket list. With sprawling hills, perfect vistas, attractive gardens and plenty of room to play, San Diego's premier city park has endless entertainment options.
Balboa Park is also listed on our Best Things to Do Near the Cruise Port article.
Alcazar Garden in Balboa Park
Stroll through Gorgeous Gardens
From the legendary Palm Canyon to the breathtaking Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, Balboa Park is filled with incredible gardens and even a koi pond. Photograph blooming roses, cacti, orchids, lotus blossoms, palm trees and koi ponds. These beautiful backdrops are perfect for romantic occasions.
One of our favorite gardens in Balboa Park is the Alcazar Gardens that is complete with a gazebo, benches, paths and a fountain through the massive garden. This garden is inspired by the Alcazar Castle gardens in Spain.
Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park
Enjoy Live Music
In addition to the laid-back street performers that like to hang out along the El Prado main street, you may also be able to take in one of Balboa Park’s incredible Twilight in the Park summer concerts. From June to August, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, you can enjoy big band jazz, folk, rock & roll, soul, blues and classical performances for free.
Botanical Building in Front of the Koi Pond at Balboa Park
Visit the Botanical Building
The beauty of Balboa Park isn’t limited to its numerous gardens. Nature lovers can visit the Botanical Building to observe exotic palm trees, orchids, cycads and other plants, in addition to an iconic lily pond. Best of all, it’s free.
Casa Del Prado Theater in Balboa Park
Photograph Spanish architecture
Spanish colonial architecture and California mission buildings combine with verdant surroundings for incredible photographs. Visiting places such as Casa del Prado feels like traveling back in time.
Hiking the trails of the Desert Garden Path at Balboa Park
Go Walking or Hiking
Balboa Park is great for staying in shape. Its 19 winding trails let you go for a morning jog or an afternoon walk in amazing surroundings. Blue skies, various types of terrain and plenty of shade give you a lot of room to enjoy the outdoors.
These hiking trails are featured in Best Hikes in San Diego!
There are different dog parks in Balboa Park. Morley Field Dog Park is a scenic off-leash dog park with canyon views and a grassy area next to hiking trails. Nate's Point Dog Park is a fenced area for dogs to roam with trees and shade. Finally Grape Street Dog Park is on 5 acres that offers off-leash opportunities on a grassy area and is surrounded by a Eucalyptus grove. There are even dog obstacle courses and picnic tables to relax at while your dog explores the area.
Go Golfing at Balboa Park Golf Course
Balboa Park Golf Course is one of three city of San Diego golf courses, the others being the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course and the 9 hole executive Mission Bay Golf Course. Balboa Park Golf Course has an 18 hole challenging par 72 course and a 9 hole executive golf course as well. Discounts are available for San Diego residents who purchase an annual residence golf card. This card will offer significant discounts here and even more significant discounts at the Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Don't worry, the Balboa Park Golf Course is not just for San Diegans, this course is one of the best courses in the city of San Diego.
Entrance to the Old Globe Theater
Catch an Art Performance
The Old Globe Theatre company organizes performing art and festivals at several locations throughout the park. The Summer Shakespeare festival is one of the most popular. There’s also the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for Sunday concerts featuring one of the largest pipe organs in the world.
Nighttime Zoo at the San Diego Zoo
Check out the Nightlife
For a one-of-a-kind experience, head back to Balboa Park after 8:00 p.m. The San Diego Zoo has a Night Time Zoo program, and you can also have fun at Balboa Park After Dark during the summer, with food trucks, craft drinks and unforgettable views.
There are plenty of activities here for adults, teens and kids of all ages. If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, you can always find a private spot to relax.