Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Balboa Park ~ San Diego ~ California

Balboa Park is in the heart of San Diego and is so rich in architectural design that you might think you are on another continent!  The beautiful buildings are all around us on this lovely sunny day and I am enjoying the gorgeous details of each one of them.

The buildings are a beautiful sight
The streets of Balboa Park, San Diego,CA
Balboa Park is one of the top attractions in San Diego and that will be of no surprise when you see all that it has to offer.  There are over 1200 acres known as one of the nation’s best parks and it is full of beautiful buildings, green spaces, gardens, fountains; the list goes on and on. 
The details are endless in this design
Facade of Spanish-Renaissance designs in Balboa Park
The development of the park began in 1868 as a city park with improvements done over time but it was when San Diego was to host the Panama-California Expo of 1915-1916 that many more changes happened as well as the renaming it to Balboa Park.  
The Promenade connects several of the museums and studios
The Pomenade in Balboa Park
More buildings were added for the California-Pacific International Expo of 1935-1936 and most of those buildings are still standing today, some damage had been done by fire to others.  The Spanish-Renaissance style is the beautiful architecture you will see and this was the first time it was used in the U. S.  The details are incredible. 
The Lily Pond is one of two in front of the Botanical Building
The Botanical Building and Lily Pond
The Botanical Building was originally meant to be a train station for the Santa Fe Railroad but the iron skeleton was purchased by the Expo and then assembled here to house the botanicals.  There are over 500 species of tropical and subtropical plants as well as seasonal flowers on display.  
Water lilies are blooming amid the reflections on the pond
Reflections and water lilies
The Lily Ponds were used as a rehab swimming pool during WW2 by patients of the Balboa Naval Hospital when some of these facilities became used by the hospital.  400 beds were placed in the San Diego Museum of Art and the nearby House of Hospitality became a dorm for nurses.
Artwork can be found throughout the park, framed by the towering California Building and Tower
The California Building and Tower
The California Building and Tower stand out above the crowd.  They were built for the 1915 Expo and it is home to the Museum of Man.  The tile work on the tower may draw your attention to the bell tower where inside there is a 100 bell symphonic carillon that plays Westminster chimes that are absolutely beautiful to listen to.  The bells operate automatically every fifteen minutes.
The California Building houses the Museum of Man
Museum of Man in the California Building
There is no shortage of beautiful sights to enjoy no matter what your tastes dictate.  The culture offered is so varied with music, art, history and culture. There are over fifteen museums in Balboa Park as well as theatres, meeting rooms, performing arts venues, artist’s galleries as well as the San Diego Zoo. 
A close-up of the details of the architecture
Architectural details and the hawk of California Building
There is so much to see that you will definitely need more than one day to see all that this beautiful park has to offer.  Note the details in this architecture, and the hawk that we watched as he helped himself to someone else’s nest.  We were happy to see in the closer inspection of the photos as he flew away that all he got was dried grass.
The stage and design of the Pavillion that houses the organ
The Spreckels Organ Pavillion in Balboa Park
The Spreckels Organ Pavillion is one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs.  It was disappointing that we wouldn’t be able to see a performance here and we can only imagine what the pipe organ actually looks like behind that wall on stage.  
The tram circles the Balboa Park Plaza
The Tram in Balboa Park Plaza
The admittance to this park is free as well as the tram ride but there is a cost to visit the museums and other shows and facilities here.  All of our time here was free and we got to see so much.  It would take another visit and another time to see the attractions that we missed this time.
Some of the flowers and a fountain found in Balboa Park
Flowers and fountains in Balboa Park
There are several restaurants within Balboa Park or you may want to take a picnic to enjoy one of their many grassy areas within the park. They’ve recently set up tables with umbrellas for anyone to sit and enjoy the Balboa Park Plaza, which until recently was filled with cars. There are several free concerts throughout the summer time that would make great evenings of entertainment.   

The parking is also free at Balboa Park and there are several parking areas.  Check out a map before going if you’re driving to be close to the area of the park you wish to visit. It is a large park! 
My suggestion is if you visit San Diego, be sure to set aside some time to visit Balboa Park and spend some time to enjoy all that it offers.  The San Diego Zoo is there, too. 


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