Balboa Theatre

Once a grand movie palace, then a shelter for sailors, today at 100, the historic Balboa Theatre is home to live music events and touring Broadway productions.
Amanda Rosa
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Balboa Theatre
100 Years Young
What Can You See
Bundle & Save
When to Visit
Tickets for Performances
Know Before You Go
Stay Nearby

Highlights

Theaters
Tickets
Parking
Tips
Theaters
Tickets
Parking
Tips

At 100 Years Young, the Balboa is Only Just Getting Started!

The Balboa TheatreFront of the Balboa Theater

San Diego’s Balboa Theatre is a decadent slice from a golden age, ready for its modern revival. I think the history is fascinating and personally am glad the theatre was saved after so many trials and tribulations.

For a brief moment, the Balboa’s future looked uncertain. But now, ahead of its centennial, its doors are open and it’s cementing itself once again as a premier performing arts venue in San Diego!

Balboa Theatre a Register Historic Place
Balboa Theatre a Register Historic Place

The Balboa Theatre at 100

The date was in March 1924.

The busy opening night featured the 1924 film Lilies of the Field and vaudeville acts by Fanchon & Marco. Plus a 30 minute concert by the Balboa Concert Orchestra.

The exterior Moorish and Spanish Revival aesthetic, the tiled dome, the ornate plasterwork, and the 426 pipe Robert Morton organ certainly helped the Balboa cultivate a reputation of pure elegance.

The 1930s & El Teatro Balboa

In 1934, the theater was remodeled to make room for sound pictures.

Renamed El Teatro Balboa, it featured Spanish-language films that introduced international stars to San Diego’s growing population.

The War & Post-War Years

The Balboa Theatre became a temporary haven for sailors as they waited to ship out of the Port of San Diego.

However, after the war, the theater could not recoup its former glory. The Russo family purchased it in 1959 in order to save it from demolition.

A Historic Site Designation & The End of an Era

1972, the Balboa’s earned its designation as a San Diego historic site due to its distinct architecture.

Despite the honor, a 1973 development plan by Horton Plaza to restore the theater fell through and the City of San Diego condemned the building, intending instead to turn it into commercial space.

A Hard Won Success & Restoration

In 1984, the Save Our Balboa Organization began the long journey to save the theater and created the Balboa Theatre Foundation to lobby for restoration.

They were successful, and in 1996 the theater was included on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2002, the City’s Redevelopment Agency agreed to keep the theater as a community investment and a complete renovation began in 2005.

The Grand Re-Opening

January 2008 - The Balboa Theatre opened its doors once again!

2024 & Beyond

Currently, the historic Balboa Theatre, and her sister, The Civic Theatre, are run by the non-profit San Diego Theatres.

Today, patrons can enjoy a little slice of New York through the touring Broadway shows live on stage and live music at this historic performing arts venue.

Local Tips
Broadway Shows & Humor
Looking for a laugh? Catch the hottest comedians on the scene. Also, don't miss the opportunity of enjoying a little slice of New York through the touring Broadway live shows and music at this historic performing arts venue.

Popular Hotels Nearby
Popular Hotels
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Andaz San Diego, a Concept by Hyatt
$199
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The Dana on Mission Bay
$179
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Hilton San Diego Airport / Harbor Island
$143
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What Can You See at the Theater?

Entrance to the Balboa Theatre
Entrance to the Balboa Theatre

Audiences have access to the City Ballet of San Diego, the San Diego Symphony, and touring live theater shows from Broadway San Diego and the San Diego Theatres.

If music brings you joy, patrons can experience live jazz, classical, rock, and pop.

Looking for a laugh? Catch the hottest comedians on the scene.

View of the Stage from Orchestra Row 3 at the Balboa Theatre
View of the Stage from Orchestra Row 3 at the Balboa Theatre

Where Should You Sit?

The theater was designed to ensure everyone has a great view of the stage.

Whether you’re sitting on the balcony or in the orchestra, just sit back and enjoy the show.

Walking up to the Balboa Theatre
Walking up to the Balboa Theatre

Where is the Balboa?

The Balboa Theater is in Downtown San Diego, in the historic Gaslamp Quarter.

The address is 868 4th Ave (between E St & F St), San Diego, CA 92101.

Art Lovers Bundle & SAVE!
San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Museum of Art
Experience art from around the world at San Diego's oldest art institution! Visitors enjoy 19th and 20th Century American paintings, in addition to Spanish, Italian and Asian artwork. Don't miss the sculpture garden and floral displays!
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Local Tips
What kind of deals does the Go City San Diego pass offer?

The Go City San Diego pass gives visitors the ability to save up to 55% on attraction admissions.

Combine our exclusive 5% discount to save even more and consider the All-Inclusive pass to maximize your savings. Plus the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

When Should You Visit the Theater?

There’s no more perfect time to visit the Balboa than for the upcoming centennial celebration.

It’s the perfect celebration of the theater’s historic past, San Diego, and everyone who made it possible.

Balboa Theatre from Across the Street
Balboa Theatre from Across the Street

The 100 Years of Balboa Theatre Celebration

Become a part of history and join the celebration. This once-in-a-lifetime event runs from March 28th to the 30th.

100th Anniversary Gala

The renovated 1929 Wonder Morton organ will take center stage when organist Ken Double will begin the celebrations, treating the audience to a unique experience.

Patrons can sing along to 100 years of American music - including Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim - in a showcase led by Hershey Felder.

It promises to be a heartfelt love letter to the Balboa Theatre.

  • Date: Thursday, March 28 | 6:30 PM
  • Tickets start at $67

Centennial Salute

The Centennial Salute is a celebration of the Balboa’s past eras - the silent movie palace and a wartime home.

The highlight of the evening will be an exclusive screening of the silent film, The Flying Fleet.

  • Date: Friday, March 29 | 7 PM
  • The event is free. A $3.50 reservation fee is required.

Toons and Tunes

Is there anything better than Saturday Morning Cartoons? How about cartoons on the big screen?

Watch classic favorites - including Felix the Cat and Popeye - accompanied by the Wonder Morton theater organ.

Come dressed in your favorite 1920s attire for the kids’ costume parade.

  • Date: Saturday, March 30 | 10 AM
  • The event is free. A $3.50 reservation fee is required.

San Diego Spotlight

The grand finale invites entertainers from across San Diego to the stage in a celebration of the diversity of the city.

  • Date: Saturday, March 30 | 6 PM
  • The event is free. A $3.50 reservation fee is required.

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InterContinental San Diego
InterContinental San Diego
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How to Get Tickets for Performances

Tickets on Sale at the Balboa Theatre
Tickets on Sale at the Balboa Theatre

Whether you’re looking forward to seeing a play, a ballet, or grabbing tickets to see Trevor Noah’s latest show, tickets are available directly on the Balboa Theater website.

The website will also give you further info on each individual show, including when tickets become available and run times.

The Advance Ticket Sale Window

Can’t get tickets online? That’s ok!

Tickets are available through the advance window as well and are available 2 hours before the event on the day of the show only.

Ticket purchases are cashless.

Box Office at the Balboa Theatre
Box Office at the Balboa Theatre

How to Contact the Theater

If you need further help to purchase tickets for an event, contact the theater directly via:

  • Email: ticketing@sandiegotheatres.org
  • Call: 619.615.4000

What You Should Know Before You Go

Lot Parking
Lot Parking

Getting to the Balboa Theater is easy, but you may be wondering where you should park?

Horton Plaza Grange Parking Garage

Event parking is available on Fourth Avenue at the Horton Plaza Grange.

Additional parking can be found downtown at the Gaslamp Quarter Parking.

Side of the Balboa Theatre
Side of the Balboa Theatre

How to Make the Most of Your San Diego Visit

Downtown San Diego is home to so many museums and tours - where do you start?

Whether you’re looking forward to taking a Historical Old Town Walking Tour or want to visit The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House - there’s plenty to do for the history buff in your group.

To get the best deals, I recommend you check out the Go San Diego All-Inclusive pass.

Where to Get a Go San Diego All-Inclusive pass

No more waiting in long lines for tickets and no more paying full price.

Looking for more savings? Use our exclusive discount and get even more savings. Just add GVSD5OFF to your promo codes at checkout.

GPS talking tour cars in San Diego
GPS talking tour cars in San Diego

A Family-friendly Idea for Before or After You Visit the Theatre

I love to make a weekend out of the events at the venues in San Diego and the Balboa Theatre is no exception. The Downtown & Balboa Park GPS Talking Car Tour is really a blast that I think your family will enjoy.

Drive around the city in a talking GPS-guided Go Car, visit Little Italy, take a picture at PETCO Park, and glimpse at the San Diego Zoo at your own pace.

The Tour includes a two person Go Car, helmets, and a full tank of gas.

Intercontinental San Diego
Intercontinental San Diego

Where To Stay When Visiting San Diego

If you would like a suggestion of a nice hotel in the area, I’d recommend the InterContinental San Diego.

InterContinental San Diego

The InterContinental touts itself as being the best of city and bay - and nothing could be truer. It’s everything you want and expect from a luxury hotel sprinkled with that classic Southern California good-natured warmth. It’s also a great choice for couples.

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Stay Nearby

Andaz San Diego, a Concept by Hyatt
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La Quinta by Wyndham SeaWorld / Zoo
Near San Diego Zoo
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La Quinta by Wyndham SeaWorld / Zoo
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Hilton San Diego Airport / Harbor Island
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