Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, and Judy's other favorite spots!
“Planes, Trains & Automobiles” or Convention Hot Tips
Balboa Park is the largest urban green space in North America. Among its over 1000 acres are 15 museums, the stunning Botanical Gardens (where you get to see tree sized versions of your house plants), as well as the world renowned San Diego Zoo. It is truly a place that offers something for everyone, whether your passion is historical, horticultural, educational or recreational.
Balboa Park is also home to the largest outdoor organ, which is still used for weekly events. The organ, along with the magnificent Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, were originally constructed for the 1915–1916 Panama-California Exposition, then re-purposed to house the museums and special exhibits. The park also provides visitors with walking paths through exquisite scenery including large lawns and cool areas overlooked by large or exotic trees and plants. It would take many days to see everything, but there is something for everyone to enjoy for a day. Here’s a short list of my favorite spots:
Air & Space Museum: An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum houses a collection of historic air & spacecraft from all over the world, including a working replica of Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the actual Apollo 9 Command Module spacecraft and the only real GPS satellite on display in the world.
Automotive Museum: A nostalgic look at the icon of the 20th-century features more than 80 historic autos and motorcycles, including Frank Sinatra’s 1967 Austin Petrol Hire Car and Louie Mattar’s famous non-stop car.
Model Railroad Museum: At 28,000 square feet, the museum is the world's largest operating model railroad museum and contains four enormous scale and model layouts depict railroads of the Southwest in O, HO, and N scales.
The Old Globe Theatre is one of the most esteemed regional theaters in the country. The renowned Summer Shakespeare Festival will be performing “As You Like It” & “Richard III” along with “Inherit the Wind” during August. Reservations required!
Starlight Bowl is the home of the Starlight Musicals which perform outdoors during the summer. The fact that it is located under the flight path makes for interesting performances. Bring a picnic.
The Natural History Museum is hosting “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” which takes visitors from construction, launch, and life on board the ship, to the tragic sinking and dramatic rescue of some 700 people. The exhibition concludes with Titanic’s amazing discovery 73 years after the sinking and explores the innovative recovery and conservation efforts made over the last 25 years. Tickets are $27 for adults and $24 for seniors 62+.
Where to Eat: There are cafés, coffee carts, ice cream stands and casual eating options through the park but one of my favorites (and certainly more upscale) is The Prado, an award-winning, full-service restaurant located in the House of Hospitality, offering indoor and outdoor dining. Reservations are accepted and recommended.
Discounted admissions to the Park's major museums are available. The $49 Passport, valid for 7 consecutive days allows one admission to each of 14 Park museums. Or you can buy a Stay-for-the-Day Pass to visit 5 museums for $39. Regular admissions range from $3 to $17.50 – generally $15. Free Tuesdays allow San Diego residents admission to 5 different museums each week. Yes, you could move here for that alone. http://www.balboapark.org/