Never lacking in urban oases, natural beauty abounds in San Diego. From the La Jolla shores to the sights atop Cowles Mountain this town is half metropolis, half playground of mother nature. Nothing combines the best of the two while sparking wonder and imagination better than Balboa Park.
The surrounding recreation space of running routes and endless expanses of grass begging for picnics and volleyball are enough to be the hangout spot of choice for locals. Within the unassuming landscape is an overflowing chest of cultural and ecological treasures. As a visitor you're more likely to run out of daylight before you run out of adventures to have here. While Balboa has an endless list of places to visit, I've narrowed it down to my favorite "must-do's".
Everyone that goes to Balboa will agree, it's all about the ZOO! Yes, we have the most famous zoo in the world and its popularity is for a good reason. Huge, diverse, and dedicated to preserving and repopulating endangered species this place is a philotherian's dream. The newest exhibit is Africa Rocks and the Panda showcase is a favorite among guests. Pro Tip: If the wait for the Pandas is exhaustingly long ride the sky gondola and see them from above!
While the Zoo is popular my trip to Balboa is never complete without a stop to my very own "secret garden". The Japanese Friendship Garden and Tea Pavilion holds a special place in my heart and nothing is more romantic than a stroll through early blooming Cherry Blossoms, Green Tea in hand. I love this place, and I'm not alone, it's a popular spot for weddings.
Possibilities are endless at Balboa, it simply has something for everyone. Enjoy tech? The Aerospace Museum is right past the Classic Car showcase. Wish for theater? Grab at seat at the Old Globe Theater and take in a Shakespearean play. The Museum of Man has an actual Egyptian sarcophagus and the Art Museum has rotating treasures from Monet to Frida Kahlo. Live music can be found at the Spreckles Organ amphitheater, or even in the rose gardens where violin soloists serenade tourists on the weekends. In his book 'Peter Pan', Jim Barrie described Neverland as a place that was the "snuggest and most compact, not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed." This is how I find my heavenly Balboa to be. All the great wonderful things to see and do perfectly put into one remarkable park. It is America's Kensington Gardens with, dare I say, with even more magic.