Our third day in San Diego was spent at San Diego’s premier park, Balboa Park. Balboa Park has a long history in San Diego, with land originally set aside in 1835 to be preserved in a natural state. Nothing was done with the land for a while, but in 1868 a park was created out of 1400 acres.
Improvements weren’t started until 1902 when a development plan was created, and then movement picked up when city leaders decided to host the 1915 Panama–California Exposition there to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal; 1910 – 1915 were a flurry of building activity. Much of the current aesthetic of the park was created during this period, and the Spanish Colonial Revival Style of most of the buildings was determined at this time.
The park is beautiful, but has had its fair share of controversy over the years. There have been the usual debates about whether to demolish or restore old buildings that were probably never intended to be long-term structures, the park went through a period where crime was commonplace, and there were several rapes and murders, and the usual issues with determining who would be responsible for funding special events and renovations.
But despite all this, Balboa Park is unique in that it contains several dozen museums and gardens within its borders, many of which are free for visitors. It is truly a spectacular place to spend some time – you could be here for days and still not see it all. On my trip, although I visited twice, I only saw a tiny slice of what the park has to offer…
We began our visit at the Visitor’s Center to get a map of the park and figure out the lay of the land (donation appreciated). We started out near the Museum of Art, checking out the outdoor sculptures – a good time was had looking at the art and becoming a part of it!
Then we visited the Botanical Building and checked out all the beautiful plants growing inside. There were many varieties of orchids, a million kinds of ferns, including staghorn ferns, and many other plants. We lingered there, taking photos and pointing things out to one another. Outside of the Botanical Building is a Koi Pond, with lily pads and ducks swimming around. It is a popular attraction for children and adults alike. Angela befriended a busker who was attending the local college; his musical talent will hopefully ensure that his dreams of being a professional musician. Then we can say we knew him when…
For lunch we went to The Prado, apparently one of the more well known restaurants in San Diego. We all indulged in lunch time cocktails – because isn’t that what you do when you are on vacation!? I had a Passion Caipiriñha – it was fabulous! I had the steak tacos, there was still plenty of food, even after I shared with everybody! It was a great meal – with fantastic service! And our day was only half done!