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San Diego Balboa Park Museums

Summer Shakespeare Festival At The Old Globe

Balboa Park Museums reopen for holiday weekend

What could be better than taking in a timeless tale by the bard? How about doing it under the stars on a San Diego summer night? Thats exactly what The Old Globe offers each summer with its Shakespeare Festival. In fact, there is really nothing quite like seeing some of Shakespeares most iconic plays The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, King Richard II and Hamlet to name a few featuring seasoned Shakespearian actors in the 615-seat Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, which is framed by towering Eucalyptus trees. The festival also gives attendees plenty of chances to get up close and personal with material as well as the cast and crew with free seminars and question-and-answer sessions on select nights.

Which Museums Are Free Which Days

Balboa Park free Tuesday doesnt mean every museum is free every Tuesday. Different Balboa Park museums are free on different Tuesdays of the month.

Below is a list of the typical schedule, but its highly recommended that you double check each individual Balboa Park institution as you plan your day.

Museum Of Photographic Arts

As one of only three independent museums in the nation dedicated solely to the lens-based medium, the Museum of Photographic Arts aims to inspire, educate and engage through the innovative collection and presentation of photography film and video. Exhibitions are presented in English and Spanish with work from the museums archive as well as from contemporary artists. The museum also stores a permanent collection of nearly 9,000 images. The Edmund L. and Nancy Dubois Library strengthens the permanent collection with more than 24,000 items all related to photography.

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Where To Eat At Balboa Park

The park has several places where you can stop to eat, even though on a nice day you may want to enjoy a nice picnic on one of the many green lawns.

The parks restaurant is The Prado at Balboa Park, which has tables both inside and on the outdoor terrace facing the Casa del Rey Moro Garden. On its menu, it serves American cuisine at medium-high prices. The Prado closed on Mondays. For a cheaper alternative, you can opt for Craveology, the little restaurant located inside the Fleet Science Center Museum. Here the atmosphere is decidedly more casual and youll find pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Adjacent to the San Diego Museum of Art is another affordable restaurant called Panama 66.

Daniels Coffee is a bar inside the Spanish Village Art Center, perfect for a quick stop for something to drink. Another cafe along El Prado is Café in the Park, a good place for a short break while visiting the park.

Arts District Liberty Station


This unique gathering place within 360 waterfront acres of the former Naval Training Center features historic Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, vast landscaped open spaces and plenty of free parking. ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station is a destination where visitors and locals can stroll the 100 park-like acres, discover something new each time and make lasting memories. Many of the 38 historic buildings are now bursting with authenticity, heritage, creativity, and innovation. Always changing and evolving, ARTS DISTRICT is a place to create, connect, learn, shop, dine, meet, explore and buy local art.

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Japanese Friendship Garden Of San Diego

The Japanese Friendship Garden represents the connection between San Diego and its sister city Yokohama, Japan. It offers visitors a unique experience through its bonsai exhibit, a moon-viewing deck, beautiful black pine trees, azaleas and ornamental plants such as camellias, magnolia, wisteria and cherry blossom trees.

Balboa Park Museums & Tickets For Entry

There are 14 museums in Balboa Park altogether, touching on art, science, nature, and more. Here are a few of the most popular and unique.

Reuben H. Fleet Science CenterSan Diego Hall of ChampionsSan Diego Air and Space MuseumMuseum of ManSan Diego Natural History MuseumMuseum of Photographic ArtsSan Diego Museum of ArtModel Railroad Museum San Diego Automotive Museum –

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Spanish Village Art Center

As you walk through the doors of the Spanish Village Art Center, you will find yourself in the most colorful area of the park, a large square with pastel-colored tiles full of stalls selling handicrafts. All around, there are little shops and workshops where you can see the masters at work. The glass-blowers are especially amazing to watch as they make unusual objects in colorful blown glass.

San Diego Museum Of Art

Balboa Park Museums Do What They Can To Survive During The Pandemic

The San Diego Museum of Art is one of the country’s leading art institutions, with approximately 500,000 visitors annually. The museum’s holdings include notable collections of Italian Renaissance, Dutch and Spanish Old Masters, Asian art, South Asian paintings, as well as comprehensive examples of American art, nineteenth-century European paintings, twentieth-century paintings and sculptures, a world-renowned collection of Indian paintings and the Frederick R. Weisman Gallery for Contemporary California Art. The Museum is host to major touring exhibitions and offers a complete, year-round schedule of performances, concerts, lectures, gallery talks, and films.

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Dance The Night Away At The Spreckels Organ Pavilion With Twilight In The Park Concerts

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Spreckels Organ Pavilions Twilight in the Park summer concert series is back in person for its 40th anniversary. The concert series showcases live music spanning several genres from bluegrass to swing to rock. You can bring your own food to the event and set up a family picnic while enjoying the pavilions historic architecture under the stars. 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Available Tuesday through Thursday until August 25. Spreckels Organ Pavilion, 2125 Pan American Road East, Balboa Park. Free.

San Diego Museum Of Man

The San Diego Museum of Man is a museum of anthropology with some of the greatest treasures in the city. Each exhibit is another chapter in the fascinating story of mankind and displays part of the Museum of Man’s unique collection of artifacts, folklore, and physical remains. Learn about ancient Egypt and native cultures of the Western Americas. In living displays, demonstrators share their skills with visitors. Wednesdays through Sundays, tortillas are made in the traditional Mexican manner and an Oaxacan weaver demonstrates spinning and the floor loom. Youngsters of all ages can now explore the mysteries of ancient Egypt at the museum’s innovative Children’s Discovery Center.

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The Citys Green Space

With 19 gardens, 17 museums, 13 recreation venues, 9 performing arts arenas, 9 various attractions and play spaces, restaurants, dog parks and trails, San Diegos Balboa Park offers something for everyone. Balboa Parks land has been set-aside for almost 150 years and has racked up quite the array of family-friendly activities. Beginning in 1868 as City Park, the land now home to San Diegos most epic green space sat idle for more than two decades before the first beautification projects began. Known as the Mother of Balboa Park, it was Kate Sessions who first offered to plant 100 trees a year and donate foliage within the parks boundaries in exchange for a small portion of land to be used as her nursery.

Balboa Park Museums Ticket Discounts


Reuben Fleet Science Center Museum in Balboa Park

Which is the best San Diego museum in Balboa Park? It depends on what you enjoy. My favorite is the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, with its interesting interactive exhibits and IMAX movies.

Can’t decide which one? Visit more than one. The park offers several special deals on tickets prices, and there are many coupons and discounts available.

Stay for the Day pass visit your choice of 4 of 16 museums in one day for $56 . San Diego Zoo is not included. Available for purchase at the Balboa Parks Visitors Center, or online.

Balboa Park Multi-Day Explorer Passport – offers one admission to each of the 16 museums or attractions, good for seven consecutive days. Pricing is approximately $67 for adults, $43 for children. Or if you would also like to visit the San Diego Zoo, which is located in Balboa Park, and the museums, a Zoo-Passport combo ticket may also be purchased.

Other Discount Tickets and Coupons – There are many Discount Tickets and Coupons for individual museums or attractions for San Diego museums in Balboa Park.

For more information about Balboa Park, including address and directions, see San Diego Balboa Park

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Indulge In Crafts Cocktails And Music At The Meet Me At Mingei Summer Event Series

On the first Friday of every month through October, you can interact with artists and channel your inner creativity at Meet Me at Mingei, Mingei International Museums summer event series. Evenings spent at these monthly events will consist of museum-led craft sessions, cocktails and live music from local artists. Located on the museums terrace, this event allows you to experiment with beading, clay sculpting, origami and more while overlooking Balboa Park. 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Every first Friday of the month through October. Mingei International Museum, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. $12 for members $24 for non-members. Ages 18 and older.

San Diego Automotive Museum

This building served as the California State Building during the second exposition. It was once adorned with colorful canvas murals created by Juan Larrinaga. A more Spartan building now remains housing the San Diego Automotive Museum. The museum showcases the dominant transportation vehicle of the 20th century, with rotating displays from other automobile exhibitors, as well as classics from their own permanent collection.

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The San Diego Museum Of Art

Providing a rich and diverse cultural experience, The San Diego Museum of Art houses the worlds finest art in Americas Finest City. Located in the heart of Balboa Park, the museums nationally renowned collections include Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings including the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings, and 19th and 20th century American paintings and sculptures. At The San Diego Museum of Art, exhibition text is always in English and Spanish.

The San Diego Museum of Arts mission is to inspire, educate, and cultivate curiosity through great works of art. The museum regularly features major exhibitions from around the world, bringing new works of art to San Diego, as well as sharing our holdings and exhibitions with audiences around the globe. The museum hosts an extensive year-round schedule of cultural and educational programs for children and adults. Programs including Culture & Cocktails, Film in the Garden, and Art After Hours offer a unique cultural experiences for adults, while Summer Camps, Teen Summer Studios, and Family Drop-in Days offer fun activities for any young artist. Admission is always free for visitors ages 17 & under at The San Diego Museum of Art.

Impromptu Potable Picnic At Panama 66

Balboa Park museums reopen for holiday weekend

No blanket? No wine? No problem. If you are looking for a romantic moment or at least a moment of respite, youll want to head on over to Panama 66. Order a glass of wine, a San Diego craft beer or one of their signature cocktails and pick up one of the picnic blankets reserved for patrons while you are at it. Next, settle in the nearby May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden to sip your drink while soaking up the sights, which include a nice view of the California Tower as well the iconic sculptures that dot the lawn.

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San Diego Air And Space Museum

This uplifting educational experience offers a look at aviation, space, and science history in a compelling Smithsonian-affiliated setting. Visitors will see incredible exhibits, including an actual GPS satellite, artifacts from Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, and the Wright Brothers. Dont miss the interactive simulators, 3D movie theater, and the Apollo mission command module.

Air Shows Aviation Museums And Top Gun

San Diego has a long history regarding aviation. In 1911, Glenn Curtiss, the Father of Naval Aviation, demonstrated his Model D-III from San Diego Bay for the US Navy and a year later the Navy established the first aviation squadron on the northeast side of Coronado’s North Island. A decade later, Ryan Airlines designed and built Charles Lindbergh’s iconic Spirit of St. Louis in a factory located right next to the San Diego International Airport, known locally as Lindbergh Field.

Flying ahead to 1986, the regions aviation recognition soared when the blockbuster film Top Gun starring Tom Cruise was released, and the US Navys Fighter Weapons School at San Diegos Naval Air Station Miramar gained international fame.

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What If I Cant Make It On Tuesday

If getting a day off of work on a Tuesday and braving the crowds sounds daunting to you, youre not alone. Dont worry, there are other cost-friendly alternatives to seeing your favorite Balboa Park museum. The most popular option is to purchase a Balboa Park Explorer Pass. This offers year round access to many of the parks museums for an annual fee. Many museums also offer group discounts and participate in multiple programs throughout the year to make admission more affordable.

There is also the Museums For All program which offers museum admission at $2 per person with an EBT, SNAP or WIC card. This is not available at all museums so call ahead to find out if they offer the discount at the places you would like to visit.

San Diego Museum Of Us

Explore Balboa Park Gardens &  Museum  An Urban Oasis in San Diego

Housed in the historic California Building with its iconic California Tower, the Museum of Us has been educating and entertaining visitors from around the world for more than 100 years. The museum offers a variety of unique, interactive exhibits that cover a vast range of human history and culture from beer to cannibalism to monsters to secrets. In addition, the museum will soon be offering guided tours of the California Tower, where visitors can learn about the history of Balboa Park while taking in a 360-degree view of San Diego.

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Travel From Past To Present Through The Collectively Designed Maya Peoples: Heart Of Sky Heart Of Earth Exhibit

The Museum of Us welcomes its newest permanent exhibit Maya Peoples: Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth this summer after developing the exhibit with Maya consultants. Highlighting the spirit and continuing history of the Maya peoples, this exhibit explores history from a different vantage point. The exhibit is rooted in the museums decolonization initiatives, which prioritize historical representation and accountability. Featured on the high museum walls is a mural painted by muralist Alicia María Siu, emblematic of the Mayan community and spirit celebrated in the exhibit. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Available every Wednesday through Sunday. Museum of Us, 1350 El Prado, Balboa Park. $19.95 for adults ages 18 and older $16.95 for seniors, military, students and kids ages 6 – 17.

San Diego Balboa Park

San Diego Balboa Park is the famous cultural park of the San Diego area, featuring 15 + major museums, beautiful gardens, renowned performing arts venues and the San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park is the favorite place for locals to take their out-of-town guests, because it is such a special place. Your San Diego vacation should include a day at Balboa Park.

Updated July 2, 2022 by San Diego Beaches and Adventures

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Visit The Newly Renovated Timken Museum Of Art

With its freshly polished bronze finishes and revamped design, the Timken Museum of Art is ready to welcome visitors back after a two-year closure for renovation. Patrons can expect to see a refreshed interior space with the art newly arranged in chronological order. The remodel also includes the addition of the statue Bust of Eve by Thomas Ball and the painting Salomé” by Ella Ferris Pell, the first woman artist featured in the museums permanent collection. While the renovation consists of subtle aesthetic updates, it also includes the installation of an antiviral system used to remove airborne pathogens. With its new focus on inclusivity and its various upgrades, a visit to the restored museum may make even the veteran San Diegan see this Balboa Park staple in a new light. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Timken Museum of Art, 1500 El Prado, Balboa Park. Free.

What Is There To See

Multiple Balboa Park museums reopen after COVID closure

Balboa Park museums offer something for everybody.

There are the large family-friendly institutions like the Natural History Museum and the Fleet Science Center. Both of these feature rooms full of hands-on learning exhibitions that bring science to life. There is also the Museum of Us, which offers a fun and immersive exploration of human history and culture.

If youre more into visual art, sculpture and craft, there are popular art institutions like the San Diego Museum of Art and the Mingei International Museum. Both offer a fascinating look at art and culture from around the world.

Regular park goers also have their favorites. The Model Train Museum is equal parts mesmerizing and wholesome in its quirk. The Japanese Friendship Garden offers a serene walk through a representation of a traditional Japanese tea garden. The San Diego Air & Space Museum offers an up close look at some of the most amazing innovations in flight the world has ever seen.

Whichever museum or set of museums you plan to see, get there early and expect a crowd. Balboa Park free Tuesday is incredibly popular and most museums often reach capacity.

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