Botanical Building, Balboa Park

Balboa Park. San Diego’s Rich History.

The largest cultural complex west of the Mississippi, Balboa Park is called the “Smithsonian of the West” for the number of cultural institutions within the park. Built for temporary use during the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, the buildings here are beautiful enough to be considered attractions in themselves. But the real draw is are the museums themselves. Among its attractions are eight gardens, 15 museums, and the San Diego Zoo.

The architectural beauty of Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is San Diego’s cultural crown jewel. Covering over 1,200 acres, the park is home to more than a dozen museums including the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the world famous San Diego Zoo, rated the #1 zoo in the world.

There is so much to see and do in Balboa Park. With the Zoo worth a day in itself, don’t try to squeeze it all in in just a day. In fact, some museums are closed on one day a week, whereas another day is free admission if you’re a San Diego resident.

First Tuesday

Second Tuesday

Third Tuesday

Fourth Tuesday

Fifth Tuesdays

  • Regular admission prices are in effect

Even if you don’t plan to visit any of the museums, the park is worth a visit. Hidden paths and architecture details present you with numerous opportunities to capture the details of bygone eras and cultural details. Shady corridors provide relief from the Southern Californian sun, and friendly San Diegans make the experience a worthwhile experience.

What lens to use?

Bring the lot. A wide angle lens will be beneficial in capturing the park layout, but a zoom lens or a prime lens will allow you to capture the architectural details of the buildings or the exhibits on display. One of my personal favourites, dating back to my childhood, is the Model Railroad Museum. And while a tripod may not be allowed in some of the museums, a monopod will allow you to get that extra stability in low light situations. I particularly like the Sirius P-326.