San Diego, CA: Visiting Balboa Park
The site of Balboa Park in San Diego is one of the oldest in the United States dedicated to public recreational use. It consists of several open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, and contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Named after the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa; the park hosted the 1915–16 Panama–California Exposition and 1935–36 California Pacific International Exposition, both of which left many architectural landmarks. The park and its historic Exposition buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
San Diego has always been a place for me to leave the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and soak up the bright Southern California sun. This new year was no different, so I made the two hour trip down the coast for a weekend of sun and celebration. After ringing in the new year celebrating in Gaslamp District the night before I woke up intent on exploring Balboa Park... but first was coffee!
The Casa del Prado Theatre
Churrigueresque ornamentation framing the entrance
Preparations for the 1915 Panama–California Exposition created much of the park's present-day look, feel and designed amenities. The Exposition's lead designer and site planner was architect Bertram Goodhue, who was known for his Gothic Revival, and partnered with architect Carleton Winslow who together chose to mesh the styles of highly ornamented Spanish Baroque architecture with the Spanish Colonial architecture created during the Spanish colonization era in New Spain-Mexico. This led to the creation of the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. It's incredible to see buildings like this still standing in today's 21st Century.
I eventually made my way to the California Building and Tower; which houses the San Diego Museum of Man, and is among the most recognizable landmarks in San Diego. For a small fee (even smaller if you have a student i.d) you can enter the museum and enjoy its exhibits. They happened to be running a special exhibition; Instruments of Torture, which showcases cruelly engineered artifacts used to inflict unbelievable pain and suffering. It runs until January 10, 2016, so if it's gone when you arrive consider yourself lucky, it was a bit disturbing!...I would love to show you but photography wasn't allowed.
San Diego Museum of Man
The Botanical Building
THINGS TO KNOW
The best way to start your time in Balboa Park is with a stop at the Balboa Park Visitors Center. Located across from The Prado Restaurant in the House of Hospitality, the Visitors Center has the most current and comprehensive information about the Park’s activities and attractions. Open from 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM daily, the Visitors Center offers brochures, maps, audio tours, free guided tours of the Park, transportation information, dining advice and more.
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About The Author
In 2015, Founder of TMDE Paul Martinez left a career in sales for a life of exploring. In just a matter of months he had visited over 10 countries, 30 cities, 10 states, countless national parks, taken thousands of photographs, and did a ton of soul-searching. His search uncovered a deep passion for exploration; which he now believes to be the essence of the human spirit, and led to the birth of The Modern Day Explorer. You can follow him on his personal journey by visiting his Instagram, and hopefully continue to support TMDE by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.