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Balboa Park Tours and Activities

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8 Reviews
Balboa Park
Home to world-class museums, manicured gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park tops the list of San Diego city sights. Its 1,200 lush acres (486 hectares) comprise the largest urban park in the United States. Apart from its many attractions, Balboa Park also features lengthy walking and hiking trails, distinctive landscaping, Golden Age Spanish buildings, and one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs.

The Basics
A visit to the park is included on most San Diego city sightseeing tours, and Segway tours are another popular way to explore Balboa. The central part of the park houses the renowned San Diego Zoo and its more than 3,000 animals. At the Museum of Man, part of the California Quadrangle and its distinctive arch, you can see Native American artifacts and other cultural archaeology exhibits. The San Diego Museum of Art displays a number of European works, and nearby sites include the Timken Museum of Art, the Botanical Building, the Natural History Museum, Alcazar Gardens, the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, and the Spanish Village Art Center. The east end of the park holds the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Explore the area on foot or use the free Balboa Park Tram, which loops continuously around the main areas of the park daily from 9am to 6 or 8pm.
  • Balboa Park is kid-friendly, with a miniature train, playgrounds, and play areas in most museums.
  • With so many options, it’s best to prioritize your desired stops in the park. You can pick up a park map at the Balboa Park Visitors Center in the House of Hospitality.
  • Free concerts on the Spreckels Organ are held every Sunday at 2pm, and on Monday evenings at 7:30pm from late June through August.
  • Eating options abound throughout the park. Be sure to check out the Prado for diverse cuisine and museum-inspired decor.

How to Get There
Set in downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is easily reached by bus. By car, Park Boulevard provides easy access to the site’s free parking areas near most of the exhibits. The most scenic approach, however, is over the Cabrillo Bridge from the west—the steep roadsides, lush with hanging greenery, resemble a rain forest gorge.

When to Get There
Balmy San Diego is famous for its year-round sunshine and mild climate. Balboa Park is open year-round and 24 hours a day, with the Visitors Center open from 9:30am to 4:30pm. The zoo, museums, and other attractions have varying opening hours.

Things to Do Near Balboa Park
Although countless activities are available in Balboa Park, the location is an ideal base for seeing some of San Diego’s other top sights. The beaches of La Jolla, the charm of Old Town, and the bustle of the historic Gaslamp Quarter are just a short drive away.
Address: 1549 El Prado, San Diego, California 92101, USA
Hours: Open 24 hours a day. Visitors Center: 9:30am - 4:30pm. Museum hours vary by institution
Admission: Park and Gardens: free. Admission prices to museums vary by institution
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33 Tours and Activities to Experience Balboa Park

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Free Cancellation:Get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance on most experiences.See Details
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San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley

San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley

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649
Explore some of the top highlights of San Diego with your silver, gold, or platinum day pass (depending on option selected) for the city’s Hop-on, Hop-off Trolley Tour. Choose your own adventure as you get on and off the trolley at any of the 12 included stops, covering famous sights including the Gaslamp Quarter, the San Diego Zoo, USS Midway and the Cruise Ship Terminal, Little Italy, and many more. This San Diego trolley tour also features live commentary from the on-board guide during your ride.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$42.00
From
$42.00
Taking safety measures

Private Balboa Park Segway Tour

Private Balboa Park Segway Tour

star-5
103
Take a tour of San Diego's most-popular park during this Segway exploration of Balboa Park. Follow your friendly local guide to all of the hot spots and learn why locals love the laid back vibe of this coastal destination.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$62.94
From
$62.94

Platinum Balboa Park and Downtown Segway Tour

Platinum Balboa Park and Downtown Segway Tour

star-5
44
Explore downtown San Diego and Balboa Park on a 2.5-hour Segway tour. Follow your guide to historic sites like the Hall of Justice and Pantoja Park, then make your way through Little Italy and the expansive grounds of Balboa Park. In the park you glide past destinations including Founder’s Plaza, the San Diego Museum of Natural History, and the Inez Parker Memorial Rose Garden. Your guide provides commentary on San Diego's history and landmarks throughout the tour. Includes guide, use of equipment, and Segway orientation—no prior experience necessary.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Taking safety measures
From
$49.00
From
$49.00
Taking safety measures

San Diego Balboa Park Scavenger Hunt Adventure

San Diego Balboa Park Scavenger Hunt Adventure

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2
Learn about San Diego while joining your friends or family for a scavenger hunt on this 2.5-hour self-guided game in Balboa Park. Combine the fun of the Amazing Race with the information of a 3-hour walking tour as your team uses your own smart phones to play the scavenger hunt. Solve the clues and complete challenges as you make your way among well-known and hidden parts of Balboa Park during the scavenger hunt—an ideal choice for families, friends, or work colleagues visiting San Diego.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$21.34
Price varies by group size
From
$21.34
Price varies by group size

The Private Balboa Park Tour

The Private Balboa Park Tour

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12
Ride in a luxury vehicle to Balboa Park for a private tour of this National Historic Landmark District of San Diego. Explore the 1,200-acre (485-hectare) cultural icon with your own personal guide and customize your 2-hour itinerary with your choice of sights, including complimentary admission to the Spanish Village Art Center; Botanical Garden, Rose Garden and Cactus Garden; and Timken Art Museum. Pass by numerous museums and hear informative commentary about the park’s history and architecture. Bottled water and snacks are provided.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$159.00
From
$159.00
Taking safety measures

San Diego Scenic Tour

San Diego Scenic Tour

star-5
120
In just four hours, experience the scenic highlights of San Diego and its neighboring areas. Watch sea lions and pelicans on the beaches of La Jolla and capture fantastic views from the top of Mt Soledad. Soak up the Old World elegance of the mansions and Hotel Del on Coronado Island, and find peace in the urban oasis of Balboa Park. Wind through downtown and Old Town San Diego, learning about the city’s history along the way. Enjoy personalized attention on this small-group tour limited to just 14 people.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$65.00
From
$65.00
Taking safety measures

San Diego City Lights Night Tour

San Diego City Lights Night Tour

star-4
28
Explore San Diego at night under the moonlight with this 1.5-hour city lights tour. Travel from the city’s Gaslamp Quarter to Balboa Park and the Embarcadero. Catch sights of the historic San Diego County Administration Center, the USS Midway Museum, and the Star of India. Plus ride to the top of the Coronado Bridge and see sights lit up all over the city, as well as some from Tijuana.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$34.00
From
$34.00
Taking safety measures

The San Diego Highlights Tour

The San Diego Highlights Tour

star-5
34
Experience San Diego’s scenic highlights and historic landmarks on a full-day tour of the 'America's finest city'. Listen to the legends behind San Diego's most important sites as you skirt the bay to Coronado Island, explore the Embarcadero then follow lush roads into Balboa Park’s elegant gardens and museums. Pause to find lunch in a Gaslamp Quarter restaurant, take in La Jolla’s world-class shopping district and sweeping coastline and finish your day in the heart of downtown San Diego.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$211.00
From
$211.00
Taking safety measures

GoCar Talking GoCar 2Hr Tour: Downtown & Old Town

GoCar Talking GoCar 2Hr Tour: Downtown & Old Town

star-4.5
11
Explore San Diego’s Downtown and Old Town sights in a fun and fast-paced way—on a GoCar tour. This sightseeing adventure takes the stress out of reading a map, as the car talks and shows you the way with its in-built GPS. Enjoy hearing stories as you explore the city’s most popular areas, including Little Italy, Mission Hills, Presidio Park, and the Gaslamp Quarter.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$66.56
Price varies by group size
From
$66.56
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

San Diego Gaslamp Segway Tour

San Diego Gaslamp Segway Tour

star-5
78
Explore San Diego by Segway on this comprehensive tour. Led by a local guide, learn about the city’s major landmarks and history while passing top attractions like Balboa Park, the USS 'San Diego' Memorial, Petco Park and the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Snacks and beverages are included along the way, as well as a brief safety session to ensure that you feel completely comfortable hitting the streets on your Segway.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$159.00
From
$159.00
Taking safety measures

San Diego Shore Excursion: San Diego Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley

San Diego Shore Excursion: San Diego Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley

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23
Explore San Diego at your own pace with a full-day ticket to ride a hop-on, hop-off trolley through the city. Simply board the trolley at your cruise ship’s port of call and visit historic landmarks and vibrant neighborhoods at eleven centrally-located stops. Get a glimpse of California’s past in Old Town then see the magnificent ships that moor at the bustling waterfront; grab a spot on a beach to watch surfers catch breaking waves, and try to spot the famous ghost at the elegant Hotel del Coronado.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$42.00
From
$42.00
Taking safety measures

San Diego Tour

San Diego Tour

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36
With year-round perfect weather, beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and top-notch cultural attractions, San Diego embodies the best of Southern California. Discover its many delights on a morning tour that takes you through this city's most charming areas, from the leafy promenades and fountains of Balboa Park to the legendary Hotel del Coronado and historic urban streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. Skip the stress of driving and let a local guide show you around town, making several stops to soak up the sunny ambiance and do some California dreamin’ of your own.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$159.00
From
$159.00
Taking safety measures

GPS Talking GoCar 2HR Tour: Downtown & Balboa

GPS Talking GoCar 2HR Tour: Downtown & Balboa

star-4
6
Zip through downtown San Diego and Balboa Park in just two hours with the use of a GPS-enabled GoCar. You and your partner will get settled, strap on your helmets, and use the provided map and GPS to get exploring. You'll cover tons more ground than you would on foot and can use the navigating devices to make your own route.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$66.56
Price varies by group size
From
$66.56
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Ultimate Private San Diego Sightseeing Tour

Ultimate Private San Diego Sightseeing Tour

star-5
8
Take the guesswork out of your sightseeing in San Diego and book a half-day private tour with an ultimate itinerary. Leave the driving to a personal guide who accompanies you by luxury car or SUV to the city’s major attractions. Stroll the landscaped gardens of Balboa Park, explore the historic Gaslamp Quarter, drive across the bridge to visit Coronado Island or discover the cliffside enclave of La Jolla. On this tour, set your own pace at the sights that interest you most!
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$269.00
From
$269.00
Taking safety measures

Downtown to Balboa Park Tour

Downtown to Balboa Park Tour

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1
Join us for a unique, private adventure in and around downtown San Diego with a guided tour in a motorcycle sidecar! Learn about the past & present of “America’s Finest City”, the birthplace of California, cruising in style! It's safe, it's fun, & it's an unforgettable experience of a lifetime! With Pegasus Sidecar Tours, your private driver & guide will take you on a tour around the beautiful San Diego area in our top-of-the-line 3-passenger sidecar rigs. This means 2 passengers can sit in the sidecar, and a third behind your personal driver and guide. Our helmets are equipped with industry leading SENA communication system offering 4-person HD audio connectivity, so you can talk directly with one another & with the guide during the entire tour. Pets are also allowed to ride along, for what is life without our furry friends! There is even a convertible top that can enclose the sidecar in case (by some rare chance in San Diego) it rains. Tours are highly customizable. Lets ride!
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$129.00
Price varies by group size
From
$129.00
Price varies by group size

Balboa Park Highlights Tour with Coffee

Balboa Park Highlights Tour with Coffee

There is so much more to beautiful Balboa Park than meets the eye, and you'll find all the secret spots on this small group walking tour of San Diego's cultural crown jewel. You'll see gardens of different types, inspiring architecture, learn about the park's history and the cultural organizations that populate it now. And top it all off with a beverage at a popular coffee cart.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$44.00
From
$44.00
Taking safety measures

30 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Local Photographer in San Diego

30 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Local Photographer in San Diego

star-5
1
Flytographer 30 Minute Vacation Photoshoot Connect with a local professional photographer in San Diego and capture your most memorable moments during this private photoshoot. Get insider tips on the best things to do in San Diego, including where to eat and what to see from your vacation photographer.  Return from your trip with beautiful, high-quality, vacation photos. The best souvenir ever.
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  • 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$283.34
per group
From
$283.34
per group

60 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Local Photographer in San Diego

60 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Local Photographer in San Diego

star-5
1
Remember your vacation in San Diego by having beautiful photos taken by a professional photographer. This flexible shoot gives you the freedom to either customize your route, or choose for a selection of set routes, such as Oceanside Pier, or Coronado. No need to worry about sharing the shoot with others—the experience is completely private, and you’ll receive 30 hi-res images in an online gallery.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
From
$373.34
per group
From
$373.34
per group

90 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Local Photographer in San Diego

90 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Local Photographer in San Diego

Flytographer 90 Minute Vacation Photoshoot Connect with a local professional photographer in San Diego and capture your most memorable moments during this private photoshoot. Get insider tips on the best things to do in San Diego, including where to eat and what to see from your vacation photographer.  Return from your trip with beautiful, high-quality, vacation photos. The best souvenir ever.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$566.67
per group
From
$566.67
per group

120 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Local Photographer in San Diego

120 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Local Photographer in San Diego

Flytographer 120 Minute Vacation Photoshoot Connect with a local professional photographer in San Diego and capture your most memorable moments during this private photoshoot. Get insider tips on the best things to do in San Diego, including where to eat and what to see from your vacation photographer.  Return from your trip with beautiful, high-quality, vacation photos. The best souvenir ever.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$736.67
per group
From
$736.67
per group

Off the grid Christian tour.

Off the grid Christian tour.

You will get to have a personal guided tour from me a local muti cultural native San Diegan, I get to share my personal history of San Diego Off the grid.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$28.34
From
$28.34

Private San Diego Segway Fanatic Tour

Private San Diego Segway Fanatic Tour

star-5
3
Explore San Diego on a private Segway tour, providing the ability to cover more ground than a walking tour but still enjoy the fresh Southern California air. With a knowledgeable guide, cruise along the San Diego Embarcadero, and see interesting sights along the waterfront. Check out areas like Little Italy and Balboa Park, and glide through the popular Gaslamp Quarter.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$80.00
From
$80.00

All Day San Diego City and Shopping Tour

All Day San Diego City and Shopping Tour

star-3
3
Make the most of your limited time in San Diego on a 7-hour small group tour.  Provided transportation takes you to each location, which spares you the stress of navigating the city’s traffic on your own.  Stop to explore La Jolla, Balboa Park, Old Town, and much more. The tour also includes a free trip to Las Americas Outlet, where you enjoy unbeatable deals at 125 stores.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$94.94
From
$94.94

Private Half Day Tour of San Diego inc Transport

Private Half Day Tour of San Diego inc Transport

Discover the compelling character of California’s second-largest city, renowned for its fascinating Mexican heritage, resplendent gardens, historic streets and fine stretch of Pacific Coast. On the San Diego half day highlights tour you will visit many of the city’s major historical sites, neighbourhoods and parks, including Balboa Park, the elegant architecture of the Gaslamp Quarter, the Old Town’s rich culture and the beautiful coastal stretch of La Jolla - plus more. Through the local insight of your private guide, you will be introduced to some of San Diego’s lesser-known corners with plenty of opportunity to grab some fabulous photographs of the city’s most picturesque landmarks, be it quaint Victorian streets, bloom-filled gardens and the upscale mansions of La Jolla’s monied elite, or the stunning cliff-strewn coastline that are home to seals, marine birds and rugged sea caves.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$270.00
Price varies by group size
From
$270.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Frequently Asked Questions

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are Balboa Park hours of operation?
A:
Balboa Park hours of operation: Open 24 hours a day. Visitors Center: 9:30am - 4:30pm. Museum hours vary by institution. Buy tickets in advance on Viator. If you book with Viator, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund.
Q:
What's the best way to experience Balboa Park?