Balboa Park is one of the largest parks in the United States, so it comes as no surprise that there are so many fun things to do there! We have already looked at some of the major attractions at Balboa Park, but today we are exploring the park with an insider’s perspective. Along with being a hub for the community (and the place where San Diegans gather for many festivals, museum excursions, and days at the San Diego Zoo) Balboa Park is an excellent place to take your dog, do yoga, have a picnic, take a class, or people watch. Check out our recommendations for a day at Balboa Park and enjoy one of San Diego’s most incredible attractions!


The best of Balboa Park (from an insider)

1. Stop by one of the dog parks


If you are a dog lover, then a dog park is definitely the place to begin your day. The Balboa dog parks are enclosed areas where dogs can run off leash, and they are great places to sit, make a furry friend, and chat with the friendly owners. Non-owners are of course encouraged to come: dogs are always looking for someone else to play with!

For information on Balboa’s three dog parks, visit


2. Take a hike


There are 65 miles of trails along Balboa Park, and these trails are used daily by joggers and walkers. Escape the city for a little bit and get lost in the wooded area behind the park. A little nature is good for everyone!

For maps and more information about the hiking (and biking) trails, visit and click here to download the PDF of all of the trails.


3. Have a picnic

It seems like everywhere in the park is a great place to have a picnic, but did you know that there are also designated areas of the park where alcohol is allowed? (No glass containers: only plastic or aluminum.) Stay within these areas and you can enjoy a picnic AND a beer, if you so please. Signs around the park identify which areas allow alcohol.


4. Take a class

Yoga, dance lessons, painting, and even archery lessons are offered at Balboa Park. Check out the schedule online and book a class! We highly suggest the Balboa Park Dancers association: this group meets at the Balboa Park Club building every Friday from 6:45-9:30 pm and every Sunday from 6:45-9:15 pm. The group focuses on a different style of dance each month: everything from tango to swing! There are 40-minute lessons twice an evening, and classes are taught by professional dancers. Membership is only $10 for 6 months, and then each evening only costs $3: without membership, it is still an affordable $5 per evening.

For more info, check out


5. Spend some time on the courts


The tennis courts at Balboa Park are a great place to socialize and exercise. The courts are affordable, and there are so many (24 in total!) that you will probably not have to wait long, even on a busy day. There is also a full-service Pro Shop, lessons, clinics and a Tennis Café. For more information, visit


6. Check out a festival


The Haunted Trail, Earth Day, and the Christmas Festival are just a few of the many events hosted at Balboa Park. It seems that there is always something exciting going on, so check out the schedule of events and head on over for some fun!


7. Stop in the free museums


The beautiful botanical gardens and Timken Museum are ALWAYS free, so make them a tradition when you visit the park! Students with a California ID and San Diego address can also get in to the museums for free each Tuesday of the month. The museums that are free on each Tuesday rotate each week: to find out which Tuesday your favorite museum is free, check out Balboa Park website or see the list below.

First Tuesday

  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
  • Centro Cultural de la Raza
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • San Diego Natural History Museum (Not valid for 3-D films)
  • The Timken Museum of Art is always free.

Second Tuesday

  • Museum of Photographic Arts
  • San Diego History Center
  • Veterans’ Museum and Memorial Center
  • The Timken Museum of Art is always free

Third Tuesday

  • San Diego Art Institute
  • Mingei International Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • The Timken Museum of Art is always free.

Fourth Tuesday

  • San Diego Air & Space Museum (Not valid for special exhibitions)
  • San Diego Automotive Museum (Last admission 3:45pm)
  • San Diego Hall of Champions
  • SELECT House of Pacific Relations International Cottages
  • The Timken Museum of Art is always free.


8. Be a kid again and ride the carousel


Why not? You’re never too old!


9. Have a long lunch at the beautiful Prado


If you are studying English at CISL San Diego, then your classes either end at 12:40 or 3:10. After class, head on over to the park and have lunch at the gorgeous Prado.


10. Watch the lawn bowlers

Started in 1931, the San Diego Lawn Bowling Club has more than 100 members, all of whom dress entirely in white while playing this fascinating game. Games take place every Tuesday and Saturday at 9:30 am; Wednesday, Friday, Sunday at 1:00 pm, and Thursday at 10:00 am. Club members are happy to give lessons if you’d like to give lawn bowling a try!


What’s your favorite experience at Balboa Park? Share it with us on the Converse Facebook page!

All photos from Balboa Park Facebook with the exception of the tennis player (from the Balboa Park Tennis Club Facebook page) and The Prado (photo from The Prado Facebook page).