Balboa Park in San Diego has almost everything and some of our favorite kinds of places like museums and gardens. Due to the size of the place we could get in a pretty good walk too.
Having only one day to spend in the park, we had to prioritize. We started in Palm Canyon with 58 species of palms. Two flights of stairs lead down to the canyon floor. Then the walk is flat and a calm spot in a busy park.
When we climbed out of the canyon we walked through a formal Alcazar Garden, past the California Tower, by The Old Globe and other live theater buildings, through an outdoor café until we reached the Museum of Art.
The Japanese print exhibit was not yet open (our main reason for stopping), but the beauty and peacefulness of the place drew us in. We enjoyed viewing a good collection that included American art with paintings by Eakins and Moran and European art with Gauguin and Matisse. As in any good museum, this one offered me a discovery of a new artist, Manierre Dawson. New to me that is. He had a painting in the Armory Show of 1913.
We made our way to the Botanical Building with blooming orchids and myriad other flowers. In front of the building are two lily ponds currently without lily pads.
We retreated to the car to get our lunch and sat in the sun watching several children run around the stage and portico of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Many of the buildings in Balboa Park are from the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition and have the style and grace of the buildings like those left from San Francisco’s earlier Exposition.
After lunch we toured the Japanese Friendship Garden with tea house, pond and the beginning bloom of cherry trees.
Then we walked by more museums, crossed the Park Blvd. overpass and wandered through the Desert Garden. The garden is extensive with some towering cactus and at the time of our visit some bright colored flowers. Many painters had staked out places to paint in the garden. The Rose Garden is nearby, but was not in bloom.
On this side of Park Blvd, there are trail markers indicating distances, though not indicating elevation changes. If we had time or energy for more time, we would have explored. Some trails undoubtedly went down the valley to the east.
This park also has the famous San Diego Zoo. The next day, we would be off to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly the Wild Animal Park) in Escondido.
See you on the trail!
Pictures by Mike Millar