Disneyland Resort and Southern California LIVE! Guidebook
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In the heart of San Diego lies Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in America with a 1,200-acre collection of culture, gardens, and activities. The Park was established in the late 1800s as City Park, and later renamed for the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa. Many buildings were originally built for the Panama-California exposition of 1915–16, a celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal, and now house an amazing variety of museums and cultural attractions.
If museums are your passion, you’ve just hit the jackpot! Balboa Park is home to a variety of museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Museum of Man, Veterans Museum, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, just to name a few. Whether it is art, history, or science you are interested in, Balboa Park has a museum to suit your interests—see page 205 for more details.
For those interested in the visual arts, the San Diego Art Institute, Museum of Photographic Arts, and the Timken Museum of Art are must-sees. Various craft and art shows are also held periodically at Balboa Park.
The most visited attraction at Balboa Park is the “World Famous San Diego Zoo” (see page 190 for more detailed information).
Music lovers can marvel at the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion. The organ was first played at Balboa Park in 1914, and performances are still free. The Tony award-winning Old Globe Theater produces 15 plays and musicals each year, ranging from Shakespeare classics to Broadway-style musicals. Musical theater is also showcased at Starlight Theatre, home to opera, musicals, and concerts by popular artists, and the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet holds performances throughout the year as well. Or treat the little ones to a show at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.
Another unique attraction at Balboa Park is the antique carousel, which has been a mainstay at the Park since 1922. Most of the animals on this gem on quality craftsmanship are hand-carved, and the murals on the carousel are hand-painted. The carousel also still has the brass ring game!
There is no shortage of flora and fauna in Balboa Park, which contains more than 15,000 trees and several beautifully manicured gardens. One of the most popular is the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, containing more than 1600 roses of over 130 varieties, and the Japanese Friendship Garden, a tranquil area amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, complete with koi ponds and waterfalls. Admission to most of the gardens is free.
The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center has its home here, and features Southern California’s only IMAX Dome Theater and 100+ hands-on exhibits.
Diversity is celebrated at several of the attractions, including Centro Cultural de la Raza, the Japanese Friendship Garden, Mingei International Museum, and WorldBeat Center. Cultural events are held throughout the year.
Top Photo Slice: (℗ 42957) Photo contributed by © chezp
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