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Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo

Planning Your Time

It's impossible to cover all Balboa Park's museums and attractions in one day, so choose your focus before you head out. If you plan on visiting the San Diego Zoo, expect to spend at least half the day there, leaving no more than a couple of hours to explore Balboa's other attractions afterward. Otherwise, check out these itineraries.

Two Hours: To help maximize your time, rent one of the 60-minute audio headsets that guide you on a tour of the park's history, architecture, and horticulture. Pick a garden of interest to explore or drop down into Palm Canyon. Spend the remainder of your time relaxing in front of the Botanical Building or around the Bea Evenson Fountain.

Half Day: Spend a little more time at the sights above, then select a museum to explore. Alternatively, catch a puppet show at the Marie Hitchcock Theater. Afterward, you might have time for a quick ride on the carousel or a browse around the studios of Spanish Village Art Center. Cap things off with lunch in the Sculpture Court Café.

Full Day: Consider purchasing a one-day discount pass from the visitor center if you want to tackle several museums. Depending on when you visit, enjoy a free concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, a cultural dance at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, or join a guided walking tour. Active types can hit one of the more intensive hiking trails, while others can rest their feet at an IMAX or 3-D movie in the Fleet Center or Natural History Museum, respectively. In the evening, dine at the beautiful Prado restaurant, or catch a show at the Old Globe Theatre.

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