The Weekender: A Walk in Balboa Park

Kelsey Bacinett, Features Editor

From Girl Scouts in elementary school to visiting with my family over the years, I have always enjoyed the beauty and architecture of Balboa Park.

Balboa Park features various museums and forms of entertainment, many of which I set out to learn more about over spring break.

One of the aspects that amazes me most about Balboa Park lies in its historical ties to San Diego that date back to 1868. The City Park, as the grounds were called, hosted the Panama-California Exposition from 1915-1916, where the park gained its famous architecture, museums and buildings. Inspired by the churches of Mexico and Spain, architects and designers set out to create something stunning for the city of San Diego and travelers to enjoy year-round.

The world-famous San Diego Zoo, which lies in the northern section of the park, was established in 1916 as well, marking its 100th anniversary this year.

Today, those who visit the park will find a multitude of places to visit and observe while they soak up a historic site in San Diego. From wedding pictures in the grand archway corridors of the park, to the lush gardens that bloom in the spring, to December Nights, there is never a dull moment in the park. Even when night hits and the crowds scatter, the glowing lights of the park cast a splendorous view.  

In addition to various playgrounds, restaurants, recreations areas, trails, dog parks, performing arts centers and common areas, Balboa Park is known for its museums, attractions and gardens. Here is a list of some of the many things one could explore in Balboa Park:


  • Centro Cultural de la Raza
  • Marston House
  • Mingei International Museum
  • Museum of Photographic Arts: This museum is one of few in the United States devoted strictly to photography, film and video.
  • Rueben H Fleet Science Center: Those who visit the Science Center have the chance to witness a film in Southern California’s only IMAX Dome Theater.
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • San Diego Art Institute
  • San Diego Automotive Museum
  • San Diego Hall of Champions
  • San Diego History Center
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • The San Diego Museum of Art
  • Timken Museum of Art
  • Veterans Museum at Balboa Park
  • WorldBeat Center


  • Balboa Park Carousel: This five minute ride that dates back to 1910 will take anyone back to their childhood.
  • Balboa Park Miniature Railroad: A ride on this petite train will cover four acres of Balboa Park on its three minute trek.
  • Balboa Park Visitors Center in the House of Hospitality
  • House of Pacific Relations International Cottages
  • Photographic Arts Building
  • The San Diego Zoo: With over 4,000 rare animals, the zoo covers nearly 100 acres.
  • Sefton Plaza
  • Spanish Village Art Center
  • United Nations Building


  • 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden
  • Alcazar Garden
  • Australian Garden
  • Botanical Building: With over 2,100 plants, the Botanical Building and Lily Pond are acclaimed as the photographed sites in San Diego.
  • California Native Plant Garden
  • Casa del Rey Moro Garden
  • Children’s Ethnobotany Garden
  • Desert Garden
  • Florida Canyon Native Plant Garden Preserve
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Marston House Garden
  • Palm Canyon
  • Rose Garden: Another frequented spot in Balboa Park, the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden is home to around 1,600 roses of more than 130 varieties that spans across three acres.
  • San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation
  • San Diego Floral Association
  • San Diego Zoo Botanical Collection
  • Trees for Health Garden
  • Veterans Memorial Garden
  • Zoro Garden
First stop on my walk through Balboa Park: the Botanical Building!
A sweeping view of the Lily Pond in front of the Botanical Building reflects the clouds in the sky.
“The Lath Palace,” as the Botanical Building was called in 1915, is covered by 12 miles of redwood slats. The unique architecture of the building allows for the perfect mixture of sun for the plants inside, while allowing precipitation to water the plants when it rains.
Historic pictures show Balboa Park in the days of the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition.
From the Museum of Photographic Arts, a photograph by Ansel Adams depicts the natural wonders of the American outdoors.
For the first half of 2016, the Museum of Photographic Arts will showcase the work of the renowned black and white photographer, Flor Garduño, as seen here in this photograph titled “Sanctuario de las Mariposas.”
Another work done by Flor Garduño titled “Peritas” was photographed in Poland.
Next on my stroll through Balboa Park, the San Diego Museum of Art.


This oil painting titled “The Molo from the Basin of San Marco, Venice” dates back to the 18th century from Italian artist Bernardo Bellotto.
In this oil painting titled “In the San Felipe Valley” by the American artist Charles Reiffel, Reiffel depicts the area of Julian in San Diego County.
From the Brazilian artist Sebastião Salgado, this black and white photograph depicts a train station in Bombay, India.
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A symbol for tomb guardianship, the granite ram statue shown here was carved in Korea in the 19th century.
Silver-engraved plates were a luxury item in China during the Tang Dynasty, the era from which these 8th-9th century plates were made.
From the Safavid dynasty, this Persian tile painting of a court scene with dancing and feasting is presumed to be recovered from a domestic interior in Iran.
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Now on to the last museum I visited for the day: the Timken Museum of Art.
“Castine Harbor and Town” was done by the American artist Fitz Henry Lane in 1851.
Titled “View of Haarlem,” this painting was done by the Dutch artist Jacob Isaacks Van Ruisdael in the 17th century.
This oil painting titled “Füssen VI, Snow over the Heath” was done by the Russian artist Alexi Jawlensky in 1905.

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