See My City: Balboa Park

When we moved to San Diego, our number one priority for housing was that it had to be within walking distance to the things we enjoy - shops, restaurants, and cultural activities. We soon narrowed our search to the downtown area, since urban living sounded especially appealing after three years in the English countryside. We found a condo that we love, the only drawback being that there's limited outdoor space for us to enjoy, most especially for our young daughter. But fortunately for us, we are one block from one of the most beautiful places in San Diego:  Balboa Park.

Balboa Park sits on a piece of land that was set aside for public recreational use in 1835; it wasn't until the 1915 Panama-California Exposition that much of the park's iconic architecture was added. The style of the buildings is referred to as Spanish Colonial Revival - a combination of the Spanish Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Mission Revival styles popular at the time. The California International Exhibit in 1935 added several other buildings to the park, including the Old Globe Theatre.

The California Building, home to the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park.

The California Building, home to the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is home to 17 museums (I have a personal goal to visit them all), but with a preschooler in tow, we typically enjoy just walking through the arcades and gardens, admiring the architecture, the vegetation, and the people watching.

A note about the gardens of Balboa: the number of different species of plants here is incredible. The bougainvillea abound, the succulents look like pieces of art, and the wildflowers around the lily pond are intoxicating. There are also massive trees with root systems that are an attraction in and of themselves.

My favorite time to visit the park is in the early evening, when people are picnicking on the lawns and strolling through the gardens. The evening light streams through the arches of the buildings, casting beautiful shadows. My favorite spot to chase this light is at the Casa del Prado. (It's also my daughter's favorite place to scoot - see her?)

We go walking in Balboa on a daily basis, and I have yet to tire of it. There's always something new to discover - we have only just begun to scratch the surface (and we have yet to go to any of the museums). So there will be more "See My City" posts about Balboa in the future; I just cannot get enough of it. Who needs a backyard when you have this place?