Thursday, March 9, 2017

San Diego's Balboa Park

What's the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of San Diego? Beaches? Sunshine? Surfing? That's it's reputation, am I right? Or maybe you think of the world famous San Diego zoo. Or Navy Seals. But did you know that the country's largest cultural park sits in San Diego. (Ask my family how many times I brought that up when I was there - #annoying!)
Home to that world famous San Diego Zoo, the immense Balboa Park covers 1,200 acres and is home to 16 museums, 17 gardens and a puppet theater, a miniature railroad, an organ pavilion and  theaters. And restaurants and gift shops. 










Originally known as "City Park", it was a place of wide open spaces and rattlesnakes, bobcats and coyotes. But in 1914 all that was about to change, as San Diego was the first port of call for ships traveling through the  newly opened Panama Canal. So the city held the Panama-California Exposition at the newly renamed Balboa Park, after Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the first European to cross Central America and see the Pacific Ocean. It was the smallest city ever to hold a World's Fair and President Woodrow Wilson pushed a button in Washington DC to officially turn on the power for the fair.






The fair was a huge success and was extended for more time - and after two years some 3 million visitors had attended it. It was recommended that the buildings built for the fair - in the ornamental Spanish baroque style - be left for the public's enjoyment. And there you have Balboa Park.









So what does one do at the largest cultural park in the nation? Well, first off there are many events and festivals held here each year. There's a Cherry Blossom Festival in the Japanese Friendship Garden, an Earth Day parade, December Nights celebrates Christmas and the two-day San Diego Pride Festival is held here each July. Several races begin or end here including the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. You can attend weekly concerts at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion. And you can visit some of the museums such as the San Diego Art Institute or the San Diego Natural History Museum. Tour the gardens. Or visit the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. It's also one of the most popular places to get married in San Diego. We saw one wedding party and a bride and groom being photographed when we were there.







We spent several hours there and I feel like we didn't even cover a fraction of it.  First, there was lunch at the delightful Prado at Balboa Park. Delicious food and an outdoor patio - what more can you want from a dining experience? Then we walked through the Botanical Building, visited the Museum of Photographic Arts( where we laughed until we cried trying on animal masks for photographs - seriously, I thought we were going to get kicked out!)  strolled the grounds and saw bubble makers and fountains. We were entertained by street musicians who were singing and tango dancing. ( or does one say dancing the tango? I'm not sure)



 The one thing that I didn't get to do was ride the Electriques. Originally from the first Expo in 1915, these electric wicker carts look like a blast. You rent them and drive them around the park.Unfortunately, by the time we got to the booth to rent one they were already closed for the day. 



 I think I could easily say that I was smitten with Balboa Park. And I'm up for another visit sometime soon.















One of the other highlights of my visit to San Diego, besides seeing family, was a piece of Julian pie. We went with the classic apple. And added Tillamook ice cream on the side. Because, well.....Tillamook ice cream. Both are things you can't get your hands on here on the East Coast. Yum. So good.



How about you? Have you been to Balboa Park? Or enjoyed Julian Pie? With or without Tillamook Ice Cream?



This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute!











21 comments:

  1. I went to Balboa Park a long time ago. I would like to go back and visit several museums. I want to go to the enclosed garden too. And, Julian Pie, so delicious! For the record, I do not like apple pie so much but can devour and entire pie from Julian anytime! #TPThursday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had a difficult time choosing which kind of Julian pie to get - next time I'll try a different kind but man, that apple was delicious! Thanks for stopping by, Ruth!

      Delete
  2. Ahh you've made me miss home! Sadly, this park is so big I haven't even seen the entire thing yet! I love going at Christmas for Christmas on the Prado and they have international foods! When I'm next home, we will be exploring this again! #Wkendtravelinspiration
    (www.caliglobetrotter.wordpress.com)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to go there for Christmas on the Prado! I'll definitely be visiting when I'm in San Diego again! Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

      Delete
  3. It seems very interesting place. I'd like to visit someday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you make it there! Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

      Delete
  4. The one time we visited Balboa Park, it happened to be hosting December Nights. It was a fun festival with delicious international food and drink options and a photo op with the Grinch!
    I didn't realize Tillamook made ice cream, but I probably should have guessed. We discovered their yogurt and cheese while on the West coast last year and loved it. Will have to look for their ice cream next time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet it was awesome to visit in December! And Tillamook ice cream is as delicious as their yogurt and cheese - I try to get some in my belly when I visit my son in Colorado or family in California as you just can't get it here in the Carolinas. Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

      Delete
  5. Balboa park is one of my favorite places in San Diego, but I haven't been there in ages. Thanks for reminding me of it. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really enjoyed my short visit! Thanks for stopping by The Unpaved Road!

      Delete
  6. I would love to spend more time exploring Balboa Park, I have just been to the zoo which I loved. And I guess I need to try Julian Pie, I haven't even heard of it. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julian Pie is made in Julian, CA and is well known there for it's deliciousness! And can you believe I've been to San Diego twice now and haven't made it to the zoo yet? Thanks for visiting, Anisa!

      Delete
  7. I loved visiting Balboa Park. My only regret was that we only had one day to explore it. I could have used a second day so that we could have seen it all. It's a great place. Makes me wish I lived in San Diego.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. It's such a gem - and I could've used more time. Just adding it to the list of "when I return"!

      Delete
  8. I went to the San Diego zoo once, a long time ago, but after spending the day at the zoo none of us had any energy for much else. A return visit is in my future! Thanks for linking in this week at #wkendtravelinspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting, Jim! And I still haven't made it to the zoo - every time I go I plan to and then there's too many other things to do. A return visit is in my future, too!

      Delete
  9. How can we have missed this? Now we're going to have to go back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol I hate when that happens - but San Diego is a fun place to visit again and again. And Balboa Park is a fun find. Thanks for visting, Lyn!

      Delete
  10. I've visited Balboa Park but had no idea that it is the largest cultural park in the USA. We really hoped that we'd catch a performance on the Spreckles Organ but were out of luck. I do recall a rather nice science museum somewhere in there amongst all that acreage. I've never heard of Julian pie! I do love pie, so I'll need to try it some time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was there in January so no outdoor performances but I would love to catch one, also! A very cool place - I wish we had something like it near me. Thanks for visiting, Michele - and I hope you get some Julian pie-delicious!

      Delete
  11. The team at this place obviously loves what they do, as they were beaming the whole time, danced with us till the end of the party, and briefly joined the after party after dropping off our belongings at the hotel! We had a blast at Los Angeles wedding venues and all our guests did as well.

    ReplyDelete