Balboa Park – San Diego Series Part One

I know this series is a technically outside of the PNW, but even us PNW Adventure Sisters have to escape the rain every now and then. Last week my husband and I slipped away for a romantic long weekend in San Diego.

The first site we decided to see was Balboa Park. This park will blow your mind, especially if you love gardens and museums. Balboa is over 150 years old and 1,200 acres in size. It was originally named “City Park,” but was renamed Balboa after Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa in 1915 to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.

The park contains the city’s zoo, 15 museums, 11 gardens, 7 performing arts theaters, and several other attractions. You cannot see it all in one day. Since we only had one day to explore here we had to be selective. The decisions were tough with so many choices

The first thing we did is stopped at the Visitor Center and got a map. Next we visited the Arboretum and Lilly Pond. Then the Timken Museum of Art. The Museum has amazing paintings and Russian icons on display. This particular museum was offering free admission. The tapestry pictured below was over 400 years old and was in amazing condition.

Once we finished at the Timken we headed over to the Museum of Man. There is admission for this museum, you can buy admissions as you go or you can select packages. Talk to the docent at the visitors center to find out what’s best for you. The museum of man is a fascinating Anthropology Museum. My favorites exhibits are the monster exhibit which has everything from the monster under your bed to the Phoenix. At the end of the exhibit you can write the name of your monster on a tag hanging from a dream catcher, thus leaving your monster behind at the museum. My other favorite is the Post Secrets exhibit. The Post Secrets Exhibit features people’s inner most secrets that they have sent in on a postcard. The secrets are both thought provoking and some are heart breaking. You can also leave a secret behind.

Then we took a stroll through the Desert Garden and the adjacent Inez Parker Memorial Rose Garden. It had just rained, so the cacti were in bloom. By this time we were starving a so we stopped for lunch at El Prado. It’s known as one of the most romantic restaurants in San Diego. It’s a beautiful place for lunch surrounded by blown glass art and scenic views of the park.

After lunch we headed off to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. This pavilion houses the biggest outdoor pipe organ in the world. This site also host many free concerts here throughout the year.

As we made our way to the San Diego Air and Space Museum we took the Palm Canyon walk. The palms were breathe taking.

The San Diego Air and Space Museum has some fantastic displays that take you through the early years when man merely dreamed of flight to mans first steps on the moon. If you aren’t up for the entire museum, take a quick peek in the lobby. They have the original Apollo 9 on display here.

That was about all we had time to see, it’s a place worth putting a couple days aside for. The park is a bit overwhelming in size. A docent told us two days should be set aside for the zoo alone.

One of my favorite parts was the Desert Garden, so I will leave you with this little happy bee drinking from a cactus flower.


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