San Diego/Balboa Park-Hillcrest

thumb|right|350px|Museum of Man in Balboa Park

40 things to do

All Places United States California

Old Globe Theatre

The original theater, designed to copy Shakespeare's theatre in London, was built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition in only 32 days and featured shortened versions of Shakespeare plays. In 1941, the U.S. Navy ordered the Old Globe to remove equipment and records for a period of 24 hours -- the Navy had acquired Balboa Park for use during World War II. By the summer of 1947, the federal government returned the park to the City of San Diego. In 1978 the theatre was destroyed by fire; a rebuilt theatre opened in 1982. The area hosts three stages including the Old Globe itself, the Cassius Carter Centre Stage, and an outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theater. You will usually have to purchase tickets in advance.

DO   —  +1 619 234-5623 —  Map

San Diego Museum of Man

Located beneath the majestic California Tower near the Cabrillo Bridge, the Museum of Man is an institution devoted entirely to anthropology. The museum's permanent collection includes exhibits on the Mayan, ancient Egypt, the Kumeyaay Indians of San Diego County, Human Evolution, and the Human Life Cycle, with some incredible displays such as mummies, ancient artifacts from prehistoric cultures, and replicas of ancient monuments.

SEE   —  +1 619 239-2001 —  1350 El Prado

San Diego Air and Space Museum

You may notice the museum as you fly into San Diego - the circular building is centered around a navy PBY flying boat and features exhibits detailing the history of manned flight, from the first planes to space travel, with lots of full-scale models of aerodynamic craft. Among the highlights is an exhibit on San Diego native Charles Lindberg, whose famous flight on his ''Spirit of St. Louis'' began in San Diego.

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

If you have kids or know a train buff, a visit to this fantastic museum should be high on your list. Just like the name suggests, this institution is dedicated to model railroading, with some of the largest model railroad layouts in the world. There are also some interactive exhibits and displays on the history of railroads in San Diego.

SEE   —  +1 619 696-0199 —  1649 El Prado

San Diego History Center

This museum has a large collection of artifacts and exhibits showcasing the history of the city. If you don't want to pay to enter the museum itself, you can just walk into the building (which contains three separate museums) and look at some historical photographs on the walls of the atrium.

SEE   —  +1 619 232-6203 —  1649 El Prado

San Diego Natural History Museum

Like any natural history museum, this one has a lot of big dinosaur skeletons. Exhibits on the local ecology and geology are also prevalent throughout the museum, as well as a massive Foucault pendulum in the entrance hall. There are also many changing exhibitions and a giant-screen theater.

SEE   —  +1 619 232-3821 —  1788 El Prado

Spruce Street Bridge

Something of a neighborhood secret, this steel-cable suspension footbridge dates back to the 1910's, and connects to a nearby residential neighborhood. There's not a whole lot to it really, but it is very scenic as you walk right through the treetops on the sides of the canyon.

Starlight Bowl

The Bowl is home to the San Diego Civic Light Opera Association, which puts on plenty of live performances through the summer. Since 1946, Starlight Theatre has presented live musical theatre under the stars each summer in beautiful Balboa Park.

DO   —  +1 619 232-7827 —  Map

Inn at the Park

Formerly known as Park Manor Suites, this hotel is located on the western edge of Balboa Park. Rooms feature nice beds, duvets, kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. Two on-site restaurants, Inn at the Park and Top of the Park and live entertainment.

SLEEP   —  +1 619 291-0999 —  525 Spruce St

San Diego Museum of Art

The largest art museum in the region, with European, contemporary, and Latin American art, 19th and 20th century American art, and an Asian collection. There are also changing exhibitions, featuring show major art shows.

SEE   —  +1 619 232-7931 —  1450 El Prado

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

This popular science museum is filled with dozens of interactive exhibits of interest to children, young adults and grown-ups too. There's also an IMAX theater in the building, one of the world's first.

SEE   —  +1 619 238-1233 —  1875 El Prado

Khyber Pass

A mix of Afghan, Turkish, and Indian dishes served by a friendly staff. Lamb, beef, chicken, and vegetarian/vegan dishes. Located on University Avenue among many other restaurants. Street parking only.

Museum of Photographic Arts

Dedicated to the art and history of photographic arts, with works from famous photographers such as Ansel Adams. The museum also holds changing exhibitions and a theater that plays art and cult films.

SEE   —  +1 619 238-7559 —  1649 El Prado

The Prado

Just about the only full-service restaurant in Balboa Park (save for a couple of places in the zoo), The Prado has a diverse menu with appetizers, salads, soups, seafood, pastas, and sandwiches.

EAT   —  +1 619 557-9441 —  1549 El Prado

San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum

This massive museum covers all sport-related things in the city, with large exhibits on the history of baseball and football in San Diego and special exhibits for the local athletic heroes.

Centro Cultural de la Raza

A cultural arts center dedicated to promoting Chicano, Mexican, Indigenous and Latino art and culture. The gallery showcases rotating exhibits and performances regularly take place here.

Veterans Museum & Memorial Center

Situated in the Old Navy Chapel, this museum contains artifacts and memorabilia honoring the men and women of the Armed Forces, Coast Guard, and Wartime Merchant Marine.

Mingei International Museum

A large folk art museum which is instantly recognizable from the outside by the large colorful mosaic sculptures out front, which are a delight for kids to climb on.

SEE   —  +1 619 239-0003 —  1439 El Prado

Sushi Deli

A local favorite, this place serves amazingly cheap and delicious sushi and other Japanese food. They don't take reservations, so wait for your table at their bar.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Home to one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, the Spreckels Pavilion holds a number of free - yes, free of charge - concerts throughout the year.

DO   —  +1 619 702-8138 —  Map

Wine Steals

This wine bar has a great relaxed atmosphere and their happy hour from 2pm to 6pm has a great selection of wines for just $3 or $4 a glass.

ITH Zoo Hostel

A unique and friendly hostel with tons of character. Free food daily as well as free guided adventure activities all around San Diego.

SLEEP   —  +1 619 955-7723 —  3751 6th ave

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

A popular venue for renowned puppeteers, with an indoor theater holding many performances during the year. A favorite for children.

DO   —  +1 619 544-9203 —  Map

Timken Museum of Art

A small art museum with collections of lesser-known pieces from famous European old masters, American, and Russian painters.

SEE   —  +1 619 239-5548 —  1500 El Prado

San Diego Junior Theatre

One of the oldest youth theater programs in the country, the Junior Theatre holds many live performances.

Marston House

Operated by the San Diego Historical Society, this historic residence is open for guided tours.

SEE   —  +1 619 297-9327 —  3525 7th Ave

Hillcrest Cinemas

Part of the Landmark Theaters chain, this theater showcases many independent and foreign films.

San Diego Automotive Museum

This splendid museum showcases some of the finest, rarest, and most famous cars in the world.

Blue Stocking Books & Bindery

An excellent independent bookstore specializing in rare and out-of-print books.

BUY   —  +1 619 296-1424 —  3817 5th Ave

Fifth Avenue Books

The largest bookstore in Hillcrest, with lots of used and out-of-print titles.

BUY   —  +1 619 291-4660 —  3838 5th Ave

La Pizzeria Arrivederci

Often cited as one of the best, if not the best pizza place in San Diego.

EAT   —  +1 619 542-0293 —  3789 4th Ave

The Wine Lover

A lovely wine bar with a wide selection of wines and some light meals.

DRINK   —  +1 619 294-9200 —  3968 5th Ave

San Diego Art Institute

A large gallery with changing exhibitions of San Diego artists.

SEE   —  +1 619 236-0011 —  1439 El Prado

Footnote Books

Premium out of print books and ephemera.

Tapas Picasso

A good Spanish restaurant.

EAT   —  +1 619 294-3061 —  3923 4th Ave

Busalacchi's A Modo Mio

Fine Italian restaurant.


Good Japanese food.

Nunu's Cocktail Lounge

Neo-hip dive bar.

DRINK   —  +1 619 295-2878 —  3537 5th Avenue

Source: wikivoyage