SAN DIEGO'S BLOOMING PARK
ART, SCIENCE, MUSEUMS
Up above the city of San Diego, close to the Charles A. Lindberg Airfield, is Balboa Park, one of the most unique large southern California city parks. There is more to do here for the kids and adults than many other attractions in the Southern California area.
The cool breezes blow through the arroyos that are thick with green vegetation and bright flowers in the summer. I have visited Balboa Park on many occasions, and you always see people under shade trees and playing catch and other activities you do at a city park. But Balboa is different. This is a cultural park as well. Maybe because of the richest, most influential people in San Diego lived in an area called Bankers Hill, located right next to the park, has something to do with the prestigious buildings within the park that house art, sciences, culture and the Performing Arts.
This jewel of a city park to me is like Yellowstone is to the National Park System. Possibly only Golden Gate Park competes in the categories of arts and science and and cultural museums such as the Asian Museum. Both parks were completed during a period of American enlightenment, by enlightened powerbrokers, for their local citizens
Balboa Park is also one of the most secure parks in the United States, with a live camcorder in about every bush and tree. It is therefore somewhat of a safe park during the day, and they have security at night roving the grounds. There are a few nice restaurants within and outside the park, including a couple of national chains.
Mrs. Wallis Simpson lived in the neighborhood, and maybe this is where she first met the future deposed King Edward III, but word has it, it was on his royal Yacht berthed in the beautiful San Diego Harbor.
Following is a listing of the park buildings and themes. Many have a website lixk, so click on the colored heanline to go to the website. The best time is anytime in Balboa Park, and you can see the Pacific from the heights. See you there
THE BALBOA GARDENS
One of the most largely planted urban parks in America; Balboa Park is a horticultural paradise offering a magnificent backdrop for the cultural attractions. The relaxing atmosphere created by the stately rows of palms, forested lawns, and ever-changing floral displays greatly enhances a visit to the park. The City of San Diego's Park and Recreation Department manages and maintains the grounds of the spectacular public resource.
On approximately 1,200 acres, there are currently about 15,000 trees in Balboa Park, of some 350 different species, including 58 species of palms. The tallest trees are eucalyptus and pines growing along Sixth Avenue, and range in height from 100-125 feet. The park's landmark tree is the Moreton Bay Fig growing north of the National History Museum. This tree, planted before 1915, is over 60 feet tall, with a spread of 120 feet.
THE ALCAZAR GARDEN Named because the design is patterned after gardens of Alcazar in Seville, Spain, The Alcazar Garden lies adjacent to the House of Charm. It is known for it's ornate fountains, exquisite turquoise blue, yellow and green Moorish tiles and shady pergolas. This formal Garden, is bordered by boxwood hedges and is planted with 7,000 annuals for a vibrant display of color throughout the year. The Garden has been reconstructed to replicate the 1935 designe by San Diego architect Richard Requa. Open daily; free.
BOTANICAL BUILDING At 250 feet long by 75 feet wide and 60 feet tall, the building was the largest wood lath structure in the world when it was built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. The building, located on the Prado, West of the Museum of Art, contains about 2,100 permanent tropical plants along with changing seasonal flowers. Open Fridays through Wednesday's (closed Thursdays and city holidays) from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Lily Pond, just south of the Botanical Building, is an eloquent example of the use of reflecting pools to enhance architecture. This 193- by 43-foot pond and smaller companion pool contain water lilies and lotus as well as varieties of goldfish and Japanese koi. The lilies and lotus bloom spring through fall.
THE DESERT GARDEN Lies north of the foot bridge across Park Boulevard near the Natural History Museum and encompasses 2.5 acres. There about 1,300 plants, including succulents and drought-resistant plants from around the world. Peak blooming period is January through March. Open daily; free.
THE OLD CACTUS GARDEN This historic garden was developed for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition and is located on the west side of the Balboa Park Club. This contains some of the largest cacti and succulent specimens in the Park and has also been developed to include exotic African and Australian Protea plants.
THE JAPANESE FRIENDSHIP GARDEN Located northeast of Spreckels Organ Pavilion,it includes a small entry garden, an exhibit house, a traditional sand and stone garden, and a wisteria arbor reviewing area overlooking the canyon below. The garden is a place of contemplation for visitors. Japanese Garden concepts and symbolism are adapted to the climate and topography of San Diego. New features include an entry plaza with tea stand, koi (carp) pond, activity center, a 60' long fujidana (wisteria arbor) and strolling paths. Public information 619/232-2780.
MARSTON HOUSE GARDEN A formal English Romantic-style garden with California influences, representing a slice of San Diego history. The garden is located on the grounds of George White and Anna Gunn Marston House at 3525 Seventh Avenue. The landscaping was assigned by the nationally known landscape architects, George Cook, John Nolen, Thomas Church, and Hal Walker. Many of the garden's diverse trees and plants were planted prior to 1928 and have reached the beauty of full maturity. Kate O. Sessions was a horticultural consultant when the first tree was planted in 1906. The formal garden was designed by Hal Walker and William Templeton Johnson in 1927. It was installed for the Marston's 50th Anniversary. Open daily; free.
PALM CANYON A tropical oasis located south of the House of Charm, which contains 450 palms (58 species) within its two acres. The original group of Mexican Fan Palms that are so prominent in the canyon date back to the early 1900s. Open daily; free.
INEZ GRAND PARKER MEMORIAL ROSE GARDEN
SAN DIEGO ZOO BOTANICALS This is an internationally prominent collection with over 6,000 species of plants. It has been accredited since 1993 as a botanical garden by the American Association of Museums. Prized collections include orchids, cycads, fig trees, palms, and coral trees. Whimsical animal topiaries are featured throughout the Zoo. Naturalist animal exhibits are heavily planted and resemble the animals' native habitats. Some plants, such as bamboo, eucalyptus, acacia, and hibiscus are grown for animal food. Open daily at 9:00 a.m. Free parking.
ZARO GARDEN A sunken garden located between the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center and Casa de Balboa. In the stone grow butterfly. The garden contains both the larvae and plants for all cycles of the complete life-cycle of butterflies. Milkweed, sunflowers and passion California Lilies were included as suitable plants for the butterfly larvae (caterpillar) stage. Butterfly Bush, lantana, pincushion flower and verbena were added as nectar plants for the adult butterflies. Hollows built into rocks collect water for the Monarch, sulfur, and swallowtail butterflies, and plants seen include colorful perennials and majestic trees. Open daily; free.
KATE O. SESSIONS
Dedicated to further the understanding of world folk art. Mingei is a special word used transculturally for "art of the people." It was coined in the early 18th century by combining the Japanese word for all people, min, and art, gei. Mingei refers to essential arts of people living in all times throughout the world to share a direct simplicity and reflect a joy in making, by hand, useful objects satisfying to the human spirit. Mingei International Museum opens a window to a broad, yet intimate view of our magnificent world through the timeless arts of people. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children and students with ID. Public information: 619/239-0003. Click headline for website.
MUSUEM OF PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS Located in Casa De Balboa, is one of the country's first and finest museums dedicated solely to photography. MoPA offers changing exhibitions by the masters of the art form and critically acclaimed work by the most celebrated photographers working today. In addition to displaying major exhibitions, the Museum offers lectures, workshops and a periodic film series. Docent guided gallery talks are available free on Sundays at 2:00 p.m. The museum store offers an extensive collection of photography related books in the country, as well as posters and note cards and unique gift items. Exhibits and programs are also presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown. Public information: 619/238-7559. Click headline for website.
OLD GLOBE THEATER One of the country's leading regional theatres and California's oldest professional theatre organizations. The Tony Award-winning theatre produces 13 works a year on its three stages: the acoustically excellent 581-seat Old Globe Theatre, the intimate 225-seat Cassius Carter Centre Stage, and the acclaimed 612-seat outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. The Old Globe Theatre has continued a tradition of Shakespeare classics for over 60 years, The Old Globe is renowned for the production of world premieres of contemporary plays and musicals. Performances Tuesday through Sunday evenings and weekend matinees. Box office: 619/239-2255. Click headline for website.
RUBIN H. FLEET SCIENCE CENTER Take an out-of-this-world experience! While viewing the world's largest motion pictures and IMAX®, visitors feel the sensation of moving freely through space and time. The audiences is enveloped in a giant, tilted dome screen theater, while thrilling visions fill their scope of view and 152 speakers deliver state-of-the-art sound. The exhibit galleries feature more than 50 hands-on exhibits. Traveling exhibits explore the mysteries of the world around us. This SciTours simulator ride takes visitors on amazing multi-sensory voyages through the universe. Open Monday and Tuesday 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Tuesday through Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Several admission choices for adults, seniors and juniors, with exhibit galleries only open to ticket combinations. Also visit the Science Store and Galileo Café. Public information: 619/238-1233. Click headline for website.
Delve into aviation's history, from the Wright Flyer to the Space Shuttle - the San Diego Aerospace Museum brings to life aviation's rich heritage through a dazzling collection of over 65 aircraft and spacecraft. The Museum also houses the International Aerospace Hall of Fame honoring engineers, pilots, and aviation industrials. The Museum maintains an extensive aviation library and archives and also has a remarkable aerospace museum store. Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours during the summer. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 dollars for seniors 65+, $2 dollars for juniors 6 to 17; active duty military with ID and members are free. Behind-the-scenes Restoration tours are available for an additional $2 dollars for adults and 50 cents for juniors. Public information: 619/234-8291. Click headline for website.
SAN DIEGO ART INSTITUTE A new exhibition of works by San Diego artists opens every six weeks in this 10,000 square-foot state-of-the-art floating gallery space, dedicated to the advancement of visual arts through outreach, education and exhibition. These juried exhibits display works in mediums, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, pen and ink, collage, assemblage, mixed media, photography and sculpture. A solo artist's work is featured along with the main gallery exhibition. The David Fleet Young Artists' Gallery showcases work from schools in the San Diego region. The gallery store offers jewelry and gift items made by artists and artisans in the area. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors/military, and children under 12 are admitted free. Public information: 619/236-0011.
SAN DIEGO AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM Take a trip through the fascinating history of the automobile - the defining invention and ultimate icon of the 20th century. Located near the Aerospace Museum, the San Diego Automotive Museum features a permanent display of classic and historically significant cars and motorcycles; special rotating exhibits displaying the finest and rarest vehicles in the world; a collection of automotive memorabilia and an active restoration display, giving visitors a glimpse of authentic restoration techniques. The Museum Store carries unique automotive-themed merchandise. Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults 18-64, $6 for military and seniors 65+, and $3 for children 6-17. Public information: 619/231-AUTO. Click headline for website.
SAN DIEGO HALL OF CHAMPIONS ver 40 sports are represented in this 70,000 sq. ft. activity center which tells uplifting stories of nationally known athletes and teams with a San Diego connection. With interactive displays the museum stimulates imaginations, teaches life lessons and offers opportunities to participate in sports. The exhibits in the Hall of Champions profile fascinating personalities, chronicle memorable events and illuminate the common traits and uncommon character that create champions. The ultimate honor for a San Diego athlete is inductions into the Breitbard Hall of Fame. The permanent exhibit currently honors 91 members, representing 18 sports, from archery to yachting. Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and military, and $4 for children, 6-14. Public information: 619/234-2544. Click headline for website.
HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM View featured exhibitions about San Diego's history - from pioneer outposts to the current status as the nation's fifth largest city. The museum presents permanent and traveling exhibitions related to the history of the San Diego region. The facility contains five galleries; research archives containing thousands of manuscripts, public records, maps, architectural drawings, books, oral histories, and biographical files; a historic photo collection with two million images of San Diego from 1867 to the present; a museum store; and the 100-seat Thornton Theatre. Collections include art, china, furniture, glassware, costumes, and textiles. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors/military/students, $2 for children 5-12. Archives are open Thursday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Public information: 619/232-6203. Click headline for website.
SAN DIEGO JUNIORS THEATER For over 50 years the Juniors Theatre has been providing children ages 3-18 the opportunity to express and develop their creative talents in theatre. The program is the unique blend of theatre training and performance experience. Six productions are presented each year in the 600-seat Casa del Prado Theatre. Year around classes are offered in all aspects of the theater arts. During the summer, Juniors Theatre offers five, two weak sessions in the day camps that include all full spectrum of theatre classes and performance opportunities. Classes range from $85 to $115 per 10-week session. Juniors theatre is the oldest continuously producing children's theatre in the United States. Box office: 619/239-8355.
MODEL RAILROAD MUSEUM Celebrates America with the largest permanent operating scale model and toy train display in the United States. The 24,000 square foot Museum contains four giant-scale model railroads of the Southwest, including an H. O. 1/87 actual-size replica of one of the largest timber trestles in North America. Children of all ages can enjoy being engineer on a special Lionel-style layout. Additional interactive accessories can be visitor operated within the large "O" Gauge Toy Train Gallery. Located in the Casa de Balboa. Open Tuesdays through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults 15 to 54; $3 for seniors 55+, $2.50 for students and active duty military; children under 15 free. Gift Shop. Catalog orders: 800/446-8738. Public information: 619/696-0199. Click headline for website.
SAN DIEGO MUSEUM OF ART
One the country's leading art institutions, with approximately 500,000 visitors annually. Museums 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, 19th-Century European paintings, 20th-Century paintings and sculpture, and a world renown collection of Indian paintings and the Frederick R. Weisman Gallery for California Art. The IMAGE system reproduces more than 300 of the museum's most significant works on a user-friendly computer screen in stunning, full-color images. IMAGE Gallery free with Museum admission. Museums open Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $6 for seniors and young adults (18-24), $6 for military and $3 for students 6-17: children under sux free. Free docket tours are offered throughout the day, Tuesday- Sunday. Public information: 619/232-7931. Click headline for website.
SAN DIEGO MUSEUM OF MAN This is a museum with each exhibit 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. Wednesday through Sundays, tortillas are made in the traditional Mexican manner and a Oxacan weaver demonstrates spinning on a floor loom. Youngsters of all ages can now explore the mysteries of ancient Egypt at the museum's new innovative Children's Discovery Center. Museum Shop. Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $3 for children 6 that 17, and military in uniform are admitted free. Public information: 619/239-2001.Click headline for website.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM This museum features animals, plants and minerals of the San Diego and Baja California regions from past to the present. Scientific collections include over seven million specimens in areas of paleontology, mineralogy, botany, entomology, Marine invertebrates, herpetology, ornithology, and mammalogy. Educational programs include classes, lectures, nature walks, teacher workshops, and the loan library. Permanent displays highlight gems and minerals, desert, shore and ocean ecology; discovery labs feature interactive displays of mineralogy and desert floral and fauna. Dinosaur whale skeletons, a seismograph and Foucault Pendulum are also on permanent display. Traveling exhibits on nature photography and dinosaurs are featured. Museums store. Hours and admission prices change. Public information: 619/232-3821 Click headline for website.
SPANISH VILLAGE ART CENTER This museum houses 35 art studios in a charming setting complete with a gazebo, tables and umbrellas, and a large variety of flowers - all creating the feeling of the town square in Spain. Over 50 artists and craftspeople work onsite to demonstrate their skills and techniques painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, stained glass, enamel, lapidary arts, wood carving, glass blowing, and pottery. Original artworks are offered for sale. Various guilds housed in the village present art shows on the flagstone patio, where food and entertainment is also offered. The Village's Gallery 21 has bimonthly shows of various art mediums. Spanish Village was built for the 1935-36 Californian-Pacific International Exposition and has been declared a historical site. Public information: 619/233-9050.
SPRECKELS ORGAN MUSEUM
STARLIGHT BOWL The Starlight Bowl was first constructed for the 1935 California - Pacific Exposition. At that time it was used in conjunction with the Ford Building which is now the Aerospace Museum. The bowl has undergone three major renovations since 1935. Most recently, a new stage house was constructed which vastly expands the capability for accommodating theatrical productions, concerts, corporate meetings, etc. Current seating capacity is 4,000. The bowl is the home of the Starlight Musical Theatre which performs there during the month of July and August. The facility is available for rent when it is not used by Starlight. Public information: 619/544-7800. Click headline for website.
TIMKEN MUSEUM OF ART Devoted to the presentation and preservation of a select collection of European and American masterworks, including a small collection of Russian icons. The Putnam Collection spans five centuries of art, from the early Renaissance to the 19th-Century. Artists represented include Veronese, Breugel, Claude, David, Rembrandt, and Copely. One of America's outstanding small museums, the Timkin Museum of Art provides an incomparable, critically acclaimed setting for the viewing of this significant collection. This charming museum is known as San Diegos "jewel box for the arts." Open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. Public information: 619/239-5548. Click headline for website.
UNITED NATIONS BUILDING The United Nations Association of San Diego (U.N.A.-S.D.), San Diego Committee for UNICEF, and the International Gift Shop. U.N.A.-S.D. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening public understanding and support for international cooperation through the United Nations. In 1956, Eleanor Roosevelt requested the San Diego City Council to grant the newly formed U.N.A.-S.D. the permanent use of the Park's U.N. Building for educational and administrative purposes. UNA-SD offices open Monday though Friday. 1 to 4:00 p.m. Information: 619/233-3970. The International Gift Shop provides financial support for the U.N. A.- S.D.. through the sale of unique world handicrafts including jewelry, books, toys, and gifts as well as world music. A special area of the give shop displays UNICEF cards and gifts whose sale benefits children all over the world. Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Information: 619/233-5044.
SAN DIEGO ZOO Home to over 4,000 exotic, rare, and endangered animals representing 800 species. Animals include giant pandas from China, koalas from Australia, pygmy chimpanzees from Central Africa, Komodo Dragons from Indonesia, a variety of hornbills from Asia, and Andean Condors from South America. Unique exhibits include Ituri Forest, Polar Bear Plunge, the Hippo Beach, Gorrilla Tropics, Tiger River, Australasia, the African Kopje, and Sun Bear Forest. Other highlights are guided double-deck bus tours, the Skyfari aerial tram, the Children's Zoo, and Nighttime Zoo and Mornings Zoo Ride during the summer. The luxuriously planted 100 acre zoo is also an accredited botanical garden. Open daily at 9 a.m. Free parking. Public information: 619/234-3153. Click Headline for website.
VETERANS MEMORIAL MUSEUM CENTER Formed to honor and perpetuate the memories of all men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Programs are offered which promote public awareness about the contributions of these veterans. On display are historical objects, artifacts, documents, and memorabilia dating back to the Civil War. The center also provides facilities for services and social and recreational activities for veterans, active duty military personnel, and general public tours are offered everyday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are welcome. Public information: 619/239-2300.