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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A unique and friendly hostel with tons of character. Free food daily as well as free guided adventure activities all around San Diego.
A popular venue for renowned puppeteers, with an indoor theater holding many performances during the year. A favorite for children.
A small art museum with collections of lesser-known pieces from famous European old masters, American, and Russian painters.
One of the oldest youth theater programs in the country, the Junior Theatre holds many live performances.
Operated by the San Diego Historical Society, this historic residence is open for guided tours.
Part of the Landmark Theaters chain, this theater showcases many independent and foreign films.
This splendid museum showcases some of the finest, rarest, and most famous cars in the world.
An excellent independent bookstore specializing in rare and out-of-print books.
The largest bookstore in Hillcrest, with lots of used and out-of-print titles.
Often cited as one of the best, if not the best pizza place in San Diego.
A lovely wine bar with a wide selection of wines and some light meals.
A large gallery with changing exhibitions of San Diego artists.
Free WiFi available.