Great Place Wednesday: Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Great cities have great parks. The jewel of San Diego is Balboa Park, a 1200 acre park in the heart of the city.  It was the location of the 1915 Panama–California Exposition and 1935 California Pacific International Exposition which each created architectural landmarks for the park. The park’s site was placed in reserve in 1835, and so is one of the oldest sites in the United States dedicated to public recreational use. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation green belts, gardens and walking paths, it contains a variety of cultural attractions including many museums, several theaters, and the world famous San Diego Zoo. There are also many recreational facilities and several gift shops and restaurants.

The main axis of the park is lined with museums and cultural destinations.

The garden style of Balboa Park is overwhelmingly Spanish, with long, broad avenues and ponds, surrounded by tall Spanish style buildings.

There is also an Alcazar Garden in Balboa Park, designed after the very ancient style of Islamic gardens of the middle east. This style entered the vernacular of Spanish gardens via the Moors of Spain, who controlled Spain for hundreds of years.

The Botanical Building houses  hundreds of species of tropical plants.

Built entirely of lath, the building is open to the elements, which are quite mild in San Diego.

The San Diego Museum of Man is the most recognizable building in the park, and now houses an anthropological museum.

You know you have a Great Place when brides choose to get married there.The park is also home to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, one of the world’s largest outdoor organs.