English (US)English (US)
California Now News
Local Tips
Visit Native California
Family Vacations
Road Trips

Travel Videos
Travel Guides
Welcome Centers


How to Hack San Diego's Balboa Park

How to Hack San Diego's Balboa Park

We asked an insider to map out the perfect family-friendly itinerary at San Diego's acclaimed urban park

Posted 4 years agoby John Godfrey

Everybody knows that Balboa Park is an essential stop on any trip to San Diego. You have to set aside a full day (and maybe a full night) to experience the San Diego Zoo, of course, but what's the best strategy for exploring the rest of this 1,200-acre green space? Which of the 17 museums do you need to visit? And in what order?

To help sort through it all, we invited Balboa Park Goodwill Ambassador Jennifer Davies to join us on the California Now Podcast. Host Soterios Johnson asked her to share the perfect itinerary for a family of four—how should two parents and two kids map out their day in the park? Davies had plenty of insider tips at the ready.

For starters, she suggested using the Inspiration Point parking lot: "There's a tram there that takes you into the park and I would stop at the first stop, which is in the Palisades," she said. "That's where the Air & Space Museum is, the Automotive Museum, and it's actually the future home of the Comic-Con Museum that will be opening up in 2021."

From there, you may want to follow your ears to the Spreckel's Organ Pavilion, the world's largest ourdoor instrument.

"It's really impressive," Davies noted, adding that you should plan ahead you get to hear the organ in action. "Every Sunday there's a free concert, and then there's a summer organ festival, so there's all sorts of different dates and times. And then the civic organist also does nighttime shows on a quarterly basis." 

Davies also shared this pro tip: "The organist practices a lot, so if you're wandering around during the week you're going to hear the organ."

"What makes Balboa Park special is you have this sort of cultural concentration, and a view of mankind, and our experience from all these different vantage points," she said, "from history to science to art to music. It's very unique and very unexpected."

She had tons of helpful advice—including a great moneysaving idea and some suggestions on where to take the best Instagram photos. To hear all of what Davies said about which museums and sculpture gardens you need to explore, as well as tips on where to eat and how to optimize your time with the kids, listen to the full interview on the California Now Podcast


Traveler Photos

Tag #VISITCALIFORNIA on Instagram to have your trip featured on our page.

California Winery

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up and get weekly travel inspiration and ideas

Subscribe to our Newsletter