Balboa Park is located less than 10 minutes from San Diego's downtown district, PETCO Park and San Diego International Airport, and is less than half an hour from University of California-San Diego and 15 minutes from San Diego State University and University of San Diego. The park itself is home to a variety of attractions and areas of interests, many which are family friendly and in some cases, dog friendly as well. From beautiful botanical gardens, nature trails and restaurants, to an eclectic collection of museums, performing arts centers, sports fields and facilities, dog parks and community-wide events, Balboa Park is full of lively action all year round.
If you're looking to take your family or classroom on an educational and fun field trip, then you're in luck as Balboa Park is home to over a dozen museums that focus on contemporary and classical art, sports, photography and the off-beat in general. Model engineers will appreciate a trip to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, while future astronauts will want to make a beeline to the San Diego Air & Space Museum and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. The San Diego Natural History Museum features documentation and permanent exhibits focusing on the history of the natural world. The kids will get a kick out of the dinosaur exhibits and the giant screen 3D theatre. Other museums of interest include the Centro Cultural de la Raza, Marston House, Mingei International Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Art Institute, San Diego Automotive Museum, San Diego Hall of Champions, San Diego History Center, San Diego Museum of Man, The San Diego Museum of Art, Timken Museum of Art, Veterans Museum & Memorial Center, and the WorldBeat Center.
Of course, no visit to Balboa Park would be complete without a trip to the San Diego Zoo! A favorite tourist attraction for kids of all ages, the zoo is home to more than 4,000 animalsórare and endangeredóand is highly noted for its conservation program. Visitors are invited to come take a look at some of the zoo's giant pandas, koalas, gorillas, high-flying monkeys, birds and reptiles in a safe and educational environment. For those who are looking to take a short spin in the park, a quick carousel ride may be in order. The Balboa Park Carousel was built in 1910 and is located next to the zoo. If you would rather not go around in circles, then consider taking a ride on the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad. In three minutes you'll ride through four acres of the park, about a half-mile ride altogether. The G16 model train is now considered an antiquity as there are about 50 or so remaining models left.
Balboa Park is also an excellent place to take part in a few recreational activities, such as lawn bowling, golfing, tennis, or cycling in the velodrome. The park includes 65 miles of trails that will challenge hikers, runners, bikers of all skill levels. Many trails feature highly scenic routes while others will take you through some of the more obscure areas of the park, taking you past museums and performing arts venues.
Finally, we can't forget about our beloved four-legged friends and Balboa Park has taken great care to provide for our furry friends as well. Three dog parks can be found in the park: Grape Street Park, which is located at the intersections of 28th Street and Grape Street in South Park and is the largest of the three dog parks at 5 acres; Nate's Point located on the West Mesa just south of Laurel Street/El Prado and east of Balboa Drive; and Morley Field which is located at the end of the Morley Field Sports Complex and includes easy access to the Florida Canyon Nature Trails.
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