The United States' largest urban cultural park is also one of the world's most scenic, with a dazzling array of museums, entertainment venues, botanical gardens and architectural landmarks. The world-renowned San Diego Zoo is just one of the many treasures nestled within the verdant expanse of this 1,200-acre (490-hectare) park, set aside as a reserve for public use as early as 1835. The 1915-16 Panama-California Expo and the 1935–36 California Pacific International Expo left behind a wealth of architectural jewels strewn across the park, including the California Building fashioned after the typical design of a Spanish Colonial Church and now home to the San Diego Museum of Man. Fifteen museums, award-winning theaters, an antique carousel, a miniature railroad and the Spanish Village Arts Center come together at Balboa Park to celebrate the cultural diversity of the state and its inspiring natural landscape.
Located right along the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego, the USS Midway Museum lends deep insights into naval aviation and one of the important chapters of American history. The museum is home to the iconic USS Midway, which has been one of the country's oldest aircraft carriers. A famed naval museum in the United States, it also shelters an arsenal of other significant carriers, most of which were crafted in Southern California. The museum is complete with simulators, myriad deck exhibits and the stirring Battle of Midway theater. The museum has also been a host to an array of private, media and sporting events.
This club is a prime spot to hear new and cutting edge music in San Diego. Bands such as Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Alanis Morissette have been among the previous guests. Local bands play here as well, primarily featuring a punk-rock flavor. In addition to music, the club offers pool tables, an enclosed smoking patio, vintage pinball and video games. A stage and dance floor provides plenty of room to dance. Meanwhile, the full bar serves a long list of beverages.
Fun for adults and kids, this museum-on-water is the focal point of San Diego's historic Embarcadero Promenade. Comprised of several painstakingly restored historic ships, it is a tribute to the sea-faring age. One of the ships showcased at Maritime Museum of San Diego is the Star of India (1863), a stunning vision that graces the coastline as the world's oldest actively-sailed, square-rigged ship.
Founded in 1769, Mission San Diego de Alcalá was the first mission founded by Father Junipero Serra in The Californias. Like many of the Spanish missions that were built along California's famous El Camino Real, the mission is actually the namesake of the major city it's near--in this case, San Diego. The mission experienced a tumultuous history since its founding, and its church building has since been rebuilt five times on the same site. Today, the mission stands as a remarkable example of early California history and is currently registered as a National Historic Landmark.
During your visit to Balboa Park, do not miss this gigantic, world-class musical instrument. Believed to be the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world, this impressive structure was built in 1915 by sugar magnates John D. and Adolph B. Spreckels. Year around, as many as 2,000 people can sit and hear the Sunday afternoon concerts. At other times, local musical talent is displayed. Check website for upcoming performances.
House of Ukraine exhibits the culture, history, and traditions of the Ukrainian people. It was founded in 1935 and is dedicated to furthering understanding between national groups in the United States. Along with hosting the Ukrainian Festival, it also participates in many other related events. These events include the Ethnic Food Fair (Memorial Sunday), the Lawn Program, Christmas on the Prado (first Friday and Saturday evenings of December) featuring Svyatij Mykolai (St. Nicholas), and a seasonal Ukrainian Christmas display featuring Christmas music and ethnic foods.
This unique gallery showcases original artwork from villages throughout the African continent. The gallery's owner travels in Africa for four months each year, forming relationships with various African communities and hand-selecting works of art to bring back to this gallery. A variety of works is offered here, including African jewelry and handwoven baskets. Yet, the most impressive artwork is likely the collection of stone sculptures. Representing unity, motherhood, wisdom and other valued traits, the sculptures convey the spirit of their motherland.
St James By the Sea Church is a place where much happens. With worship services and lots of music, there is never a dull moment out here. And if your hunger pangs act up in the midst of all the activity, fret not, for there is a quaint little Cafe to meet your needs with gourmet coffee and fresh pastries. The church can be rented out for weddings and private occasions too, for that lovely seaside ambiance.
Part of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, the Gotthelf Art Gallery contributes to the mission of preserving and upholding the essence of Jewish culture. Housed in the Jacobs Family Campus at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, the gallery nurtures the rich and diverse cultural exquisite of Jewish origins through its varied collections and exhibits. It regularly hosts cultural activities and art events to highlight its purpose. Docent tours and art receptions are open to the privileged few who extend their support to the gallery.
The House of Charm is a historic structure that is nestled in the Balboa Park. This building that was once known as the Indian Arts Building, currently houses the Mingei International Museum and the San Diego Art Institute.