Balboa Park
Balboa Park
4.5
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
About
This 1,200-acre nature park comprises 17 museums, gardens, musical theaters, a sports complex, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The park’s Spanish-Moorish architecture and 19 distinct gardens (some require admission fees) attract both tourists and locals. Don’t miss the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the Spanish Village Art Center for unique handicrafts, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where free concerts are hosted in the evenings. Travelers recommend putting aside the whole day to explore the park. To make the most of your time, hop on the Balboa Park trams (they’re free!) to get around. – Tripadvisor
Duration: More than 3 hours
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.
What is Travellers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travellers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travellers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.
Top ways to experience Balboa Park
See what travellers are saying
  • Betty S
    3 contributions
    Balboa Park, the jewel of California
    We spent two days here walked over 4 miles the 1st day and over 3 miles the 2nd. The land for the park was saved in the 1800s when only 2,000 plus people lived here. It is 2nd only to Central Park. The Spanish architecture and flora is absolutely breathtaking. The museums were fabulous and you are allowed to take photos everywhere. DO NOT miss the Spanish Village. I have never seen such beautiful art in one place in my life. The best place we ate at was El Prado. The Visitors Center was fabulously helpful.
    Visited February 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 1 March 2023
  • Gwen S
    18 contributions
    You could spend several days here!
    First of all, just walk around and look at the breathtaking architecture ( get a paper map and you will know what you are looking at.)Even better, go on free tour Tuesday and Friday 11am. Many buildings are from the 1915 Panama- California Exposition. Then plan to go to some of the 15+ museums, some have free days. Gift shops and Spanish Village artisan shops are fabulous for shopping. So much beauty and history in one place, the park is huge. Many restaurants too.
    Visited February 2023
    Written 7 March 2023
  • gaddingabout2016
    Vancouver, Canada58 contributions
    Way bigger than I imagined
    Balboa park is massive. You could easily spend a couple of days here. Lots of museums, art galleries, gardens and the San Diego zoo. Balboa park itself is free and some of the gardens and galleries are free. There is a visitors center there and they were incredibly friendly and helpful. There are a couple of restaurants if you get hungry
    Visited February 2023
    Written 9 March 2023
  • Tessadeco
    Tempe, Arizona40 contributions
    A little Europe in the heart of SD
    Wow. I cannot wait to return and ACTUALLY have the full Balboa Park experience. We spent a few hours here taking grad pictures in the public gardens and it felt like a little, perfect Europe. We did not get the chance to to any museums or restaurants, but I will certainly be returning to do so. Lots of live music, color, shops, cafes, nature, and art…the perfect place to explore for a few days on your SD trip!
    Visited March 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 10 March 2023
  • jamie_sue_12
    Unadilla, New York103 contributions
    Balboa Park
    I helped my daughter relocate to San Diego last June and took a little time to explore her new home with her & her boyfriend. One of my favorite places was Balboa Park. There are many free things to do, as well as restaurants, museums & markets. We spent several hours wandering around, checking out the Japanese Friendship Garden, had lunch at Prodo and went to the Museum of us. Could have spent hours more. I can't wait to go back.
    Visited June 2022
    Travelled with friends
    Written 19 March 2023
  • Momof3funboys
    Waunakee, Wisconsin11 contributions
    Array of museums and parks to explore
    We visited Balboa about 3 times for our week visit of San Diego. There's so much to see here! We visited the Air & Space museum and Comic Con on a rainy day. We spend 1/2 day at the San Diego Zoo and then revisited to walk around the Japanese Gardens. Places close early around 4 pm, so make note with your travel plans.
    Visited March 2023
    Written 25 March 2023
  • AU-KC
    Kansas City, Missouri73 contributions
    San Diego culture
    Nice place to take in a lot of museums and culture in one place. We mostly walked around and only visited the San Diego museum of art since it would have cost a lot to visit everything. So make sure to plan your day here so you know which museums you’re willing to pay for.
    Visited March 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 29 March 2023
  • Vickers55
    Cambridge, United Kingdom707 contributions
    Great park
    Spend an afternoon here including the free Sunday concert on the amazing organ. Lovely buildings and gardens. There were also lots of street activities. The artists area near zoo a calm oasis.
    Visited April 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 3 April 2023
  • Corinna49
    60 contributions
    A nice day at Balboa Park
    I spent a good part of a day at the Park and enjoyed it enormously. The Spanish colonial revival is simply amazing. A nice surprise was the art museum, which housed works by Rubens, Van Eyck, Veronese and more. Coming from New England, seeing roses in bloom was a treat. I meant to go back the next day to see the zoo, but we had a lot of rain. Too bad.
    Visited March 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 13 April 2023
  • LnS2004
    Cypress, California6,228 contributions
    Must See Attractions
    This park cultural district is a marvelous place to visit; highly recommended for first time visitors to San Diego. So much to see and do: attractions and parks such as SD Zoo, Japanese Friendship Garden, Palm Canyon, just to name a few, all within short walking distance from each other. And over a dozen museums covering all sorts of subjects, many housed in majestic hundred-year old Spanish Renaissance style buildings in the vicinity of the Plaza de Panama. There’s so much history behind these beautifully preserved architectural landmarks. Or just find a relaxing spot outside the Mingei Museum, sip an iced chai latte from the Craft Cafe, and people watch. It’s wonderful that parking is free.
    Visited April 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 19 April 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
13,087 reviews
Excellent
9,737
Very good
2,768
Average
466
Poor
83
Terrible
33

Patty C
Rockledge, FL1 contribution
Feb 2024 • Couples
There is a lot to do, and it's a beautiful park. Although it gets really crowded in the afternoon, so go early. Parking gets full
Written 19 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kevin V
Lincoln, NE144 contributions
Feb 2024
So many options of things to do and see here. Lots of museums of all kinds but fun to just walk around, too.
Written 17 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

GrahamStJ
Oxford, UK28 contributions
Jan 2024 • Couples
This is a really special park. Full of a wide range of interesting museums, historic buildings, cafes and, of course the well laid out park itself. On top, for those that have time, there is the vast zoo.
Written 2 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

degrawm
Buckeye, AZ476 contributions
Jan 2024 • Couples
This park is huge! When you think of a park one thinks of playgrounds and a lake. Not here. They have an amphitheater where you can listen to an organist. There are a ton of museums to visit and the architecture of the building is just amazing. Some of the museums charge and others work on donations. Its a shame that it started raining during our visit, because I would have explored more things. They did have cover walking in the buildings so you could get some things. Plenty of rest rooms and had a lot of restaurants. I'd definitely go back for a visit, so much we didn't get to see.
Written 24 January 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Saitan
San Jose, CA157 contributions
Dec 2023 • Family
Visited San Diego twice but didn't visit this place as it was not reviewed this much. But after visiting this park, I believe this place deservs number one or two in must see list. It will take at least full one day to cover the museums, ticketed and free and the houses, the roads, gardens. Its really amazing. But lot os walking.
Written 14 January 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Amanda A
Baton Rouge, LA2 contributions
Dec 2023 • Family
We had a great time at Balboa Park! The kids LOVED the carousel and we randomly caught a magic show on the street that was excellent!
Written 6 January 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PhillyShaney
Philadelphia, PA899 contributions
Dec 2023 • Friends
Ok! Let's start with this park is Huge! Think Central Park in NYC or Fairmount Park in my hometown (Philly)...spread out and many...many things to see and do! Once I understood that concept it helped me release the idea that I would see ALL THE SITES offered by this wonderful park!

You can spend hours/days..if you choose..so come with a plan-figure out how you want to spend time there so you fill satisfied vs. overwhelmed!

I will keep this park on my to-do list whenever I visit San Diego! It is so many beautiful things to view...pace yourself and enjoy!
Written 1 January 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

VanillaAce
Saint Simons Island, GA904 contributions
Dec 2023 • Couples
Great park to stroll and visit the many beautiful gardens. Variety of museums for everybody to enjoy. Don’t forget about the largest organ concert on Sundays at 2:00 pm. Street vendors sell arts/crafts and food also. A must visit for all ages. And don’t forget the awesome zoo at Balboa park.
Written 24 December 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

wireless_in_CA
United States4,982 contributions
Nov 2023 • Family
We came during the Thanksgiving weekend and got quite lucky in securing a parking spot within minutes after enter the first parking lot. It was right in front of the Natural History Museum.

Balboa Park could be considered a one stop sight to see beautiful outdoors and views, museums ranging from Cannibals to cars, Spanish building architecture, experience history, ride a train or a unique wooden carousel and go to a theatre show.

We ended up spending a couple hours here after walking by through most of the park and seeing just two of the museums. One place we will come back to visit again.
Written 10 December 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

WildernessJoe
Orlando, FL90 contributions
Oct 2023 • Family
Always heard of this place and I’m so glad we visited. If you love history and street performers you will be delighted in visiting and admiring the beauty. There are street performers singing, playing instruments, lectures, movies, food and gardens and more. Its a must see, especially if you love museums.
Written 2 December 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Showing results 1-10 of 11,125
Is this your Tripadvisor listing?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.
Claim your listing

Balboa Park - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions about Balboa Park

According to Tripadvisor travellers, these are the best ways to experience Balboa Park:


Restaurants near Balboa Park: View all restaurants near Balboa Park on Tripadvisor