If you think social distancing means not going out and visiting public places, think again. Balboa Park offers 1,200 acres worth of open space, plenty of room to spare to keep a safe distance from others. We can thank our friends at Parks and Recreation for keeping the park’s standalone restrooms open and maintained during this time. Here are just a few ways you can stretch your legs and get some much-needed fresh air today or any day:
1. Check Out the New Spring Flora
Vibrant new spring growth is sprouting up everywhere. Experience the sights and scents of our region’s coastal sage scrub ecosystem along 65 miles of hiking trails that crisscross the park. The Jerry Schad Memorial Trail offers a great urban park hike to help you stay fit, while the Florida Canyon Native Plant Preserve shows off San Diego County’s unparalleled biodiversity. If you come soon, you’ll catch a vista of the flowering cherry blossom trees inside the Japanese Friendship Garden from the lookout point just north of the Tea Pavilion.
2. Explore This Biodiversity Hotspot — Hundreds of Exotic Species
In addition to all the native flora, our 150-year-old park also features an expansive collection of 450 nonnative species of trees. Many of them originate from the planet’s other four Mediterranean climate areas, so they grow well here with our limited precipitation. You can get more info on any trees you encounter via the TreeTracker mobile app.
3. Take a Walking Tour of a National Historic Landmark District
Why not take advantage of ample free parking to rediscover the architectural beauty and charm of Balboa Park’s central mesa, officially recognized as a National Historic Landmark District? From the magnificent Spanish Renaissance architecture of the iconic California Tower to the Bea Evenson fountain, a walking tour of the El Prado is one of the most breathtaking strolls in the city.
4. Visit the Park’s Many Open and Always-Free Gardens
Balboa Park comprises 20 distinct themed gardens (from cacti to roses to medicinal trees), and 17 of them are free to the public every day. Begin your exploration by pulling up our handy gardens brochure or the Balboa Park map. Did we mention spring is the perfect time to visit the park?
5. Enjoy a Picturesque Picnic
When you’re ready to take a break from your walking tours, hikes, or garden visits, remember Balboa Park is home to some of the most scenic picnic spots in town. Spread out on the grassy lawns near the Lily Pond and Botanical Building, or find a secluded tree grove on the west mesa. Since all restaurants are currently closed in the park, this is a great opportunity to support some of your favorite neighborhood takeout places or get creative by packing your own picnic basket.