After several hours in the car, but still arriving at San Diego too early to check into our AirBnB, the family was excited to get to a place to stretch our legs and enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather after a long morning of driving. At the recommendation of a friend we decided to check out Balboa Park, the large park in the center of San Diego. It was a gorgeous day, and there was still plenty of parking at the Presidents Way parking lot. Sounded like an excellent idea.
We hopped out of the car, grabbed food for a picnic lunch, and headed up the hill in search of a good place to picnic. Of course, we were immediately distracted. Right away we came across a popup art show and sale.
That turned out to be next to the House of Puerto Rico, part of the row of International cottages in Balboa Park. Being a proud ½ Puerto Rican, I insisted we all go in and see the exhibits. I kind of forgot my kids might be hungry, and I was annoyed that they had no interest in the exhibits that I found fascinating and brought me back to my childhood.
After their behavior in the House of Puerto Rico, my husband reminded me my kids don’t do well without food, and we decided to find a place to have lunch. A short walk found the Plaza de Panama that had tables available with umbrellas! We settled into one, and started making sandwiches for everyone. As we did so, we noticed some dancers starting to gather a crowd. Imagine, our luck, without realizing we had scored front row seats to a street performance. We met this pair of African American brothers who had a comedy act, did insane dance moves, and spread a message of positivity and love. They ended their act doing a mid air flip over four people, landing, and jumping in the arms of someone in the crowd. The performance was awesome and so positive, we gladly gave them a nice donation.
After lunch and the performance my children were much more agreeable so we decided to search for the carousel and train ride we saw on the map. We walked along El Prado and up Village Place until we saw the carousel, near the entrance to the San Diego Zoo. Um…one problem. They only take cash. And we had just given the last of our cash to the dancers…. Well the train took card, and an ATM was near the zoo entrance, so we were able to salvage the day and do both!
Afterward the children were tired, and the day was getting hot. We walked back toward our car, but couldn’t help stopping for the bubble pirate by Bea Evenson Fountain .
As we were headed back to the car, we saw the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The theater was open, and anyone could get on stage. This was too good to resist. The kids went up, and my daughter immediately made it her own, dancing around.
Finally, we made the long walk back to our car, and headed further into San Diego to settle into our Airbnb, and rest after our fun, eventful day, leaving behind what has to be my new favorite city park.
- See the website for hours of the museums and centers
- Costs: Carousel – $3 a ride, 4 for $10; Miniature Train: $3 a ride; see the zoo website for entrance costs
- Free parking throughout the park
This was a stop during our Great Southern California Adventure