San Diego Parks
Among major area attractions are the San Diego Zoo, Sea World and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. San Diego boasts over 70 miles of beautiful beaches. Other leading attractions include Old Town, Balboa Park, Cabrillo National Monument, and the 4,600 acre Mission bay Aquatic Park. A variety of museums on San Diego Bay include the Stephen Birch Aquarium in La Jolla and Seaport Village shopping center.
-El Prado from Sixth Ave. San Diego (619) 239-0512
The San Diego Union-Tribune states, “Nothing
epitomizes the extraordinary diversity and unity of
[San Diego] as much as Balboa park, perhaps our
greatest place. It captures the ecological, cultural
and sociological diversity of our region in a manner
with which we can all identify.” Developed for the
1915 Panama-California Exposition, Balboa Park
celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal. The
park’s location, near downtown, crosses over 1,200
acres and is one of the most substantial urban parks
in the country! The masterpiece that is the Old
Globe Theatre, world-renowned San Diego Zoo, the
Starlight Bowl, Spreckels Organ Pavilion, many
museums, an 18-hole golf course, and the 25-court
Balboa Tennis Club all are inhabited within the
park’s set of helpful and public establishments.
Fountain @ Balboa Park Reflection pool @ Balboa Park
Trolley sightseeing & strolling throughout Balboa Park.
Balboa Park Tours - Programs - Concerts
Architectural Heritage Tours. The Committee of 100 offers one-hour tours on the first Wednesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. Tours meet in front of the Visitor Information Center in the Park's Plaza de Panama. The Committee of 100 is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to preserving Spanish Colonial architecture in the Park. The Committee raises funds for the preservation and restoration of the Park's historic buildings. Public information (619) 239-0512.
Balboa Birders Guided Walks. The Balboa Birders are volunteers who lead monthly birding tours in parks, marshes, and canyons in and around Balboa Park and neighboring communities. Birders meet the first Thursday of every month from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Locations vary. Public information (619) 232-3821, ext. 7.
Canyoneers Guided Nature Walks. The Natural History Museum's Canyoneers–volunteer naturalists trained in local flora, fauna, and geology–lead weekend nature walks from September through July in San Diego County's mountain, canyon, lagoon, and desert habitats. Walks range from one and one-half hours to six hours and are generally of moderate distance (1 to 6 miles) and difficulty. Public information (619) 232-3821, ext. 7.
House of Pacific Relations Lawn Programs. The House of Pacific Relations is comprised of more than 30 national groups dedicated to promoting an exchange of values and understanding among people of diverse national origin. This group of small cottages, each home to a different nation, takes turns holding lawn programs, from the first Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October, which feature traditional costumes, arts, crafts and ethnic foods. Outdoor programs of folk dancing and music are presented at 2:00 p.m. Public information (619) 292-8592.
Offshoot Tours. Offered every Saturday by volunteer horticulturists, the tours meet in front of the Park's Visitor Center at 10:00 a.m. for a one-hour walk. Tour themes include Balboa Park history (first Saturdays of the month), palm trees (second Saturdays), other trees in the Park (third Saturdays), desert vegetation (fourth Saturdays), and every fifth Saturdays offers the tour del dia (exploring the Park Palisades area). Inclement weather or attendance of less than 4 people cancels tour. Offshoot Tours run from the second Saturday in January through the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Sponsored by the Balboa Park Rangers. Public information (619) 235-1122.
Ranger-led Tours. Approximately one hour long, these tours meet at 1:00p.m. every Tuesday and Sunday at the Visitor Information Center in the Park's House of Hospitality. Park Rangers discuss the historical and botanical treasures of Balboa Park. The Park Rangers are committed to helping visitors have a wholesome, safe, and rewarding outdoor experience. In addition to tours, rangers assist with public safety, raise awareness of conservation needs and methods, and carry out a proactive series of educational activities within the Park and throughout the community. For large tour groups or special arrangements, call the Park Rangers' office at (619) 235-1122.
Spreckels Organ Pavilion Concerts. The Spreckels Organ Pavilion, housing the world's largest outdoor pipe organ, was donated to the City of San Diego by John D. and Adolph Spreckels in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition. The pavilion area provides comfortable seating for 2,400, with wheelchair access. Free year-round organ concerts, featuring San Diego Civic Organist Robert Plimpton, are held on Sundays from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Guest performers are scheduled at least once a month. Each year a free summer International Organ Festival is presented from mid-June through August on Monday evenings at 8:00 p.m. Public information (619) 702-8138.
Other parks in the
San Diego county include:
Anza-Borrego Desert State park
-Five miles north of I-8 on Highway 79, San Diego County (760)
Anza-Borrego Park is known for its beautiful wildflowers that bloom
in the springtime for two to six weeks. It is recommended that you
call ahead to find out the approximate times it would be best to
visit. Aside from that time of year, the park has over 500 miles of
unpaved road and 110 miles of hiking trails open to horseback riding
and off-road vehicles. Two-thirds of the park is designated
wilderness and a visitor’s center is open daily from October to May.
Agua Caliente County Park
-County Highway S2 north of I-8, San
Diego County (858) 694-3049
This 910-acre park is home to a natural hot springs that flows into
an indoor and outdoor pool. The area consists of 140 camping spots,
hiking trails, and picnic areas that are open from Labor Day to
Memorial Day. The county-run Agua Caliente airstrip is nearby the
-3146 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach (619) 491-2988)
This park, which is on the water’s edge, includes a multitude of
shopping places, restaurants, and the historic Giant Dipper Roller
Coaster as well as “The Plunge” swimming pool.
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
-12551 Highway 79, San Diego county (760) 765-0755
This dramatic park features dramatic meadows, amazing pine and oak
forests, and wonderful scenes of the Anza-Borrego Desert. The 25,000
acre park is sited 40 miles east of San Diego and consists of over
100 miles of hiking and equestrian trails as well as camping
facilities. It can be easily accessed via Interstate 8.
Mission Bay Park
-2581 Quivira Ct. San Diego (619)
Mission Bay Park provides a more aquatic area for tourists. Within
its 4,600 acres, the park includes a number of activities for the
water-lover. The park has six designated swimming areas and 27 miles
of beach alone, kayaking, wind-sailing, water-skiing, canoeing,
boating-fishing, and rowing. For land-lovers, the area provides
grassy areas for volleyball, picnics, parties, and kite-flying as
well as paths for bicycling, skating and jogging. Bonfire parties at
night are also popular in the area due to the large number of fire
pits around the beach.
Old Town State Historic Park
-San Diego Ave. and Twiggs St.,
San Diego (619) 220-5422
Old town is most popular for the Bazaar del Mundo including many
shops, popular Mexican restaurants and musical entertainment. The
park is the site of the early 19th century settlement of San Diego
and five of the original adobe structures, a historic blacksmith
shop, schoolhouse, newspaper office and stable still sit on the park
today. Over 6 million people visit Old Town each year.
The new home of the
San Diego Padres . A spectacular
ball park in every way, combining the best sight lines
in baseball with breathtaking views of San Diego. Located in
Downtown San Diego in the Gaslamp District.
Palomar Mountain State Park
-County Route S7, Palomar Mountain (760) 765-0755; (800) 895-4427
for Downhill Bicycling Info
In the winter Palomar Mountain Park is a popular spot for playing in
the snow. In the summertime and throughout the rest of the year
visitors abound for camping, picnicking hiking and bicycling.
Skilled cyclists enjoy the Palomar Plunge, an 18-mile ride straight
down the mountain including no pedaling whatsoever. The beautiful
park includes 1,897 acres covered with conifers so large it may feel
like you are actually in the Sierra Nevada. The Palomar Observatory
features a 200-inch Hale telescope as well.
Home to the San Diego Chargers. It is located in Mission Valley where the
stadium hosts a multitude of games and events such as the San Diego Charger
games where everyone in San Diego come to root for the home team.
San Diego Wild Animal Park
-15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido (760) 747-8702
This 2,000 acre area near Escondido hosts a vast array of wild
animals like rhinos, giraffes, elephants, and deer. If a safari
adventure is what you’re looking for, the animals in this park move
as wildly as they would in their natural lifestyles in Africa or
Asia. There are multiple options of entertainment to a visitor of the
There are a number of shows and informative speeches on the range
and variety of the park’s wild birds and animals. For an up-close
and personal photo shoot, the 1.75 mile hiking trail and caravan
tour aboard a safari truck are amazing. The 5 mile long Wgasa Bush
Line monorail lasts about 55-minutes round trip and presents an
extremely relaxing way to see the animals within the park. The Heart
of Africa, a new exhibit, allows people to walk among the animals of
Africa as if they were really on a safari.
The Wild Animal Park and the San Diego Zoo are operated by The
Zoological Society of San Diego. Summer, evening, and holiday hours
are all offered at each park.
Torrey Pines State Reserve
-North Torrey Pines Rd. south of
Carmel valley Rd., Del Mar (858) 755-2063
This reserve is known world-wide for the most amazing of trees, the
Torrey Pine. They are grown only on this 1,750 acre reserve and on
Santa Rosa Island, found 170 miles northwest. The area presents
beautiful views from lookouts 300 feet above the sea as well as
walking trails down the bluffs that lead to the beaches below.
Torrey Pines State Reserve contains some of the most refined and
unique scenery along the San Diego coastline.
famous San Diego Zoo
-2920 Zoo Dr., San Diego (619) 234-3153
The Gorgeous San Diego Zoo is one of the most popular and highly
praised zoological parks in the world. It holds over 4,000 rare and
exotic birds, animals and reptiles that can be visited at the
100-acre tropical garden site. One of the Zoo’s most admired
exhibits is the pair of giant panda’s that are currently on loan
from China. A world leader in the multiplication of rare and
endangered animals, the Zoo’s Center for the Reproduction of
Endangered Species is very proud of a rare baby panda born in August
The Zoo has strategically planned out numerous exhibits such as:
Hippo Beach, Tiger River, Gorilla Tropics, Polar Bear Plunge,
Scripps Aviary, and the new Ituri Forest. This way the animals are
provided with a natural, bioclimatic setting to live in.
Tours are often taken in open-air double decker busses to create a
relaxing and entertaining showing of the park. There are regular
performances of the Wild Ones show, a children’s petting zoo and a
baby animal nursery. The popular Sea Lion show also presents an
exciting performance to entertain all ages.