Balboa Park is the nation’s largest urban cultural park. Home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo, the Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, and classes—all in the beautiful and timeless setting of this must-see San Diego attraction.
Across the bridge from downtown San Diego is Coronado, a relaxed Southern California beach town, boasting one of the world’s best beaches, endless sunshine, and a bayside overlooking San Diego’s skyline. Coronado’s flat sand beach has family-friendly surf and sunsets framed by the silhouette of Point Loma. It is home to the Hotel del Coronado, the Victorian beach-front masterpiece that is a national treasure; the island also offers a wealth of water sports on Coronado Beach, San Diego Bay and down the Silver Strand. The mile-long main street is a pedestrian’s paradise, and its tree-lined neighborhoods are an explorer’s delight. Given the Great American Main Street Award, Coronado’s setting invites distinctive boutiques, parades and picnics in the park.
The Gaslamp Quarter is the historic heart of San Diego. It is a historical neighborhood in Downtown and is the center of downtown night life. The Quarter is home to many events and festivals, including Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, Street Scene Music Festival, and Taste of Gaslamp. PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres, is located one block away in downtown San Diego’s East Village. The area is listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places as Gaslamp Quarter Historic District.
Old Town San Diego
Old Town San Diego and Old town Historic Park commemorates and keeps alive the early days of the town of San Diego, including many historical, well-preserved buildings from the period 1820 to 1870, as well as restaurants, shops, and more. The Historic Park was established in 1968 and includes a main plaza, exhibits, museums, and living history demonstrations every Wednesday and Saturday. Historic buildings include La Casa de Estudillo, La Casa de Bandini, La Casa de Altamirno Pedrorena and the Mason Street School, San Diego’s first one room schoolhouse.
USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum is a maritime museum located in downtown San Diego at Navy Pier along Harbor Drive. The museum ship houses an extensive collection of 29 restored aircraft and more than 60 exhibits. Family activities include two types of flight simulators, music videos, short films, climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits, interactive exhibits, “Ejection Seat Theater,” and much more.
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is located in the heart of Balboa Park and is an urban paradise for all ages. It houses over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies. Its parent organization, San Diego Zoo Global, is the largest zoological membership association in the world, with more than 250,000 member households and 130,000 child memberships, representing more than a half million people. San Diego Zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats. It is one of the few zoos in the world that houses the giant panda. In 2013, the zoo added a new Koalafornia Adventure, providing an Australian experience.