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Top Ways to Enjoy Balboa Park

If there was a “Seven Wonders of San Diego” list, Balboa Park would absolutely be on it. The 1,200-acre urban culture park offers an assortment of things to do for anyone visiting the San Diego area. Below, the friendly team from Sunrise Inn San Diego, one of the most ideally located and budget-friendly San Diego hotels, put the spotlight on some of the top things you can do when you make your way to Balboa Park, which is located near downtown and not far from the San Diego International Airport.

Visit the San Diego Zoo

Balboa Park is home to the iconic San Diego Zoo. Known for its naturalistic habitats and unique design, the zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals. Reservations are now required to visit.

See the View from the California Tower

One of the most noticeable features in Balboa Park, California Tower is a 198-foot structure that was originally built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Make your way to the top, and you’ll enjoy a stunning 360-degree view of the park and the surrounding areas. Tickets are required.

Relax at the Japanese Friendship Garden

Created to symbolize San Diego’s relationship with its Japanese sister city, Yokohama, the Japanese Friendship Garden covers 12 acres at Balboa Park. The garden is a great place to relax while checking out beautiful stone arrangements, tranquil koi ponds, impressive water features, and intricate architecture

Grab a Bite & Enjoy a Cold Drink at Panama 66

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a tasty meal and some local craft beers or signature cocktails, Panama 66 is the place to go at Balboa Park. The restaurant offers an appealing open-air setting and a menu featuring delicious locally sourced selections.

Become One with Nature while Hiking

Treat yourself to some exercise and fresh air while also taking in the sights around you by exploring the park’s many hiking trails. Some of the more popular ones include the Marston Point Trails Gateway and the Park Blvd. Trails Gateway.

Step Back in Time on the Palm Canyon Trail

This two-acre area of Balboa Park is home to a jungle-like world with a prehistoric feel. Nestled across from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, this trail is peppered with nearly 500 palms representing more than 50 different species. There’s also a shady canyon here that can give you a place to cool down on warmer San Diego days.

Walk or Drive across the Historic Cabrillo Bridge

Also built for the 1915 Exposition, the nearly 1,500-foot-long Cabrillo Bridge is a cantilevered multiple-arched bridge that offers many amazing views. You’re welcome to drive across it or go slower at your own pace while walking. The perfect time to enjoy the view here is just as the sun is setting and the lights come on.

Take Selfies in Front of the Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Located near the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Spanish Village Art Center, this landmark has been growing for more than a century. The tree is fenced off to protect its delicate root system, so you can’t rest under it. But you’re welcome to take some selfies in front of this sprawling tree to show your friends.

Hang Out at Golden Hill Park

Located at the north end of 25th Street, this family-friendly park is technically an extension of Balboa Park. However, it’s definitely worth visiting. Park amenities include picnic grounds, a ball field, and tennis courts. COVID-19 restrictions may apply to certain park activities. 

If you’re planning a visit to Balboa Park when you vacation in sunny Southern California, make sure to reserve your room at Sunrise Inn San Diego, one of the most comfortable hotels near downtown San Diego. You’ll find everything you need for a relaxing stay, and you’ll be delighted by our affordable rates, large guest rooms and suites, and variety of amenities, including a refrigerator and microwave in each room. To make your reservation, call one of our friendly staff members today at (619) 223-5544.