All the world’s a stage at Balboa Park, where you can enjoy just about every sort of theater—from puppet shows to people-watching. The more than half a dozen stages offer solid acting, dance, and song, while cultural programs create the opportunity to study the performing arts yourself.
The park’s oldest and most famous venue, The Old Globe Theatre, was created in 1935 in the image of (and named after) the famous London landmark. In the years since, The Old Globe has produced more than 20 original plays that ended up on Broadway—and the venue itself has won a Tony Award for best regional theater. Today, the legend lives on with 15 plays a year on the main stage, as well as smaller performances on the two auxiliary stages, one fully outdoor and the other in the round. From November through December every year, the must-see Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! transforms the theatre into a holiday wonderland.
Enjoy charmingly old-fashioned fun at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, which is the oldest continuously running puppetry venue in the United States. The 234-seat theater shows short adaptations of classic tales like “Princess and the Pea” and “Rumpelstiltskin.” Kids will love the puppet meet-and-greet and the gift shop filled with marionettes. In a separate celebration of an oft-forgotten art, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion—the world’s largest outdoor organ—holds free outdoor concerts every Sunday afternoon. The venue also hosts various musical acts as part of a Summer Nights series.
In the spirit of community education, Balboa Park cultivates a number of children’s and continuing education in the arts programs. Civic Dance Arts, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, San Diego Junior Theatre, and San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory all call Balboa home. Check their respective performance schedules to see the best of the city’s young talent with very affordable admissions.