Balboa Park

One of my family’s favorite places to visit is San Diego’s Balboa Park. A park where both locals and tourist gather to enjoy museums, performing arts, gardens, fountains, cultural arts village, a zoo, outdoor recreation and a variety of other attractions.

We especially enjoy visiting the Botanical Building and the Spanish Village Arts Center. The historical Botanical Building is one hundred years old and is one of the world’s largest lath structures. Over 12 miles of redwood lath are draped over a steel structure providing filtered shade for the plants inside. The Botanical Building displays thousands of tropical and unusual plants from around the world including bamboo and banana trees. A large rectangular lily pond full of multi-colored koi sits in the foreground of the impressive structure. Hours can be spent here for those who appreciate the beauty of plants.

The Spanish Village is home to a series of galleries where local artists display their photography, paintings, sculptures and other unique forms of art. A brightly colored mosaic of concrete paving forms a central courtyard connecting dozens of studio galleries. Demonstrations by the artists can be seen throughout the day.

The park, rich in culture and history, began in 1868 when civic leaders set aside 1400 acres of land on a mesa overlooking downtown San Diego. The spectacular Spanish Renaissance Architecture was created for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. Extensive landscape gardens, the Botanical Building and the zoo where also built during this period.  Many of the Aztec and Mexican pueblo style structures at the south end of the park were built for the second Exposition in 1935-36 (California Pacific International Exposition). Improvements to the park still continued into the 21st Century including the creation of a Japanese Friendship Garden and Veterans Memorial Garden. It took over a century and two Expositions to create what the park is today. In 2003 Balboa Park was ranked as one of the Best Parks in the World by the Project for Public Spaces (rank of 13 out of 24 international parks). For more information about the park go to Balboa Park.

You can spend a good part of a day looking at the amazing architecture and landscapes throughout the park. If you’re in San Diego, stop by Balboa Park, it’s well worth the time.


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