Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Balboa Park: 100 Years Of Fun And Learning.

2015 was a very special year for Balboa Park, it marks the 100th anniversary since its opening.  Located in the heart of San Diego is one of our favorite family friendly attractions, which while living in San Diego we frequently visited. Now that we live in Northern California we try to visit a couple of times a year while visiting family.

To give you a little bit of background the park existed back in 1872, however it was more of an open space with wildflowers and wildlife. It was until 1909 that the San Diego Chamber of Commerce suggested and began working on the park to prepare it for the Panama-California Exposition. The Panama-California Exposition was a celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal and was meant to place San Diego as the first U.S. port of call for ships traveling North via the Canal. 

Fast forward to 2016 and Balboa Park is now home to 17 museums, 19 gardens, over 60 miles of hiking trails, and home to the world famous San Diego Zoo. We've shared about all several of our places to visit in the Park, but we wanted to share a small list of what to see while visiting. 

Mingei International Museum, is a Museum like no other as it collects and exhibits arts of daily use. On exhibit you will see traditional cultures from the past and present. The Museum is host to Family Sunday's on the second Sunday of each month. Inviting families to explore their exhibits and learn to create art. It is perfect for an afternoon of fun and learning. We've been there twice fro Family Sunday and several other times to explore their exhibits. My favorite display has always been on the one on the ceiling, reminds me of an artful angel ready to spread love, joy, and kindness. 

The Botanic Gardens at Balboa Park, are one of the most photographed building on the park, perhaps it has to do with the Koy pond out front of it or the lush green plants on display inside. On a hot summer day, it's the perfect spot to cool down. On any given day, you will feel as if you were transported to a jungle. During the holiday season it is home to a beautiful Poinsettia display. During our visit we saw several species of orchids, aren't they beautiful?

The San Diego Natural History Museum aka The NAT, you can expect to learn about the biodiversity the San Diego and Baja California region has to offer, the changes in the land and how the land meets the ocean. The last time we visited we enjoyed a special traveling exhibit on gemstones and jewels back in 2012, it was amazing. At the NAT you may also enjoy a documentary in their giant screen theatre, one in particular I look forward to seeing on our next visit is the Whales.

San Diego Museum of Art, an amazing museum with art from around the globe. During our most recent visit in January we were able to enjoy the exhibit on The Art of Music, it was truly amazing to see how music has an influence on artists from past and present. We got to enjoy paintings from Botero, Matisse and there was a station for guests draw while listening to jazz music. We enjoyed this exhibit very much.

San Diego Zoo, one of our many visits to the San Diego Zoo I remember meeting some tourists from Spain. They mentioned that when they first planned out their trip to California, they researched on places to visit with their family after said research the first item on their travel plans was the San Diego Zoo. What made the San Diego Zoo a premier choice for this family of tourists as many guests -us included, is the effort that San Diego Zoo makes to not only have animals from around the globe on exhibit, but also teach guests about conservation and how we can help to preserve wildlife. Are you planing to be in San Diego during the summer? If so, consider visiting the Zoo for its annual "Nighttime Zoo" event; during the evening/nighttime there are less crowds, it is cooler and most importantly most animals will be more active. 

International Cottages {House of Pacific Relations}, oh the places you'll go without having to leave San Diego. It is best to visit on a weekend when most if not all cottages are open. You will learn about other cultures and countries, such as Finland, Israel, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Denmark, Ireland, and many more. There are 32 cottages in total representing different nationalities, there is always something fun going on. Inside each cottage you will learn how people from each country live, as they're decorated according to the culture they represent. Amongst our favorites are: the house of China, the house of Israel, the house of Denmark, and the house of Finland. 

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center aka The Fleet, a fun and exciting museum in which you are mostly hands on with most if not all the exhibits while learning. While my kids were toddler we'd often visit the little city they have on the second floor. Most recently we visited to view a movie about Jerusalem in their IMAX theatre. 

San Diego Air and Space Museum, during our last visit we enjoyed this museum the most. My son has grown with a passion for all things transportation and appreciates all there is about space too. This museum has an exhibit on the history of flight, it's amazing to see what the first aircraft looked like compared to what airplanes look like now. Also a trip down memory lane in regards to the amenities that airlines used to offer their customers through the years, remember when flying was a luxury in the sense that you'd get served your meal in real porcelain or ceramic plates and real silverware not disposable ones like nowadays? The kids section is also fun, with games and experiments that teach you about flying, gravity and more. 

While visiting Balboa Park, make sure you enjoy a nice meal and lovely view at The Prado. Anytime during the year, request to be seated in their outdoor patio it is truly peaceful. With a small water fountain in the center and awnings you will feel as if you were in paradise. They have a children's lunch menu with great options from a salad to chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwich, fish tacos and more!  Pictured above is the Marinated Skirt Steak Panini it has a delicious chimichurri sauce and house made garlic-shallot roll, it is perfection and I highly suggest you try it. 

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