Article Summary: San Diego Landmarks
San Diego Landmarks. More Than Just Parks has 15 incredible must-see sites for you to visit.
There’s so much more to this exciting place than the San Diego Zoo. In this article, we’ll familiarize you with the incredible landmarks located in San Diego.
We’ve got incredible places, iconic memorials, fascinating museums, epic monuments and so much more.
We’re going to give you our list of the Top 15 Landmarks In San Diego.
So, What Is A Landmark?
Well, it’s a place of “a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of a city, state, or nation.”
Why visit these places? Because landmarks connect us to the past. Through visiting these wonderful places where history occurred we find our roots. It allows us to feel like we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
And, speaking of history, did I mention that I taught the subject? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind many of these amazing sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the fascinating stories of these places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table Of Contents
Table of Contents: San Diego Landmarks
- San Diego Landmarks
- Some Fascinating Facts About San Diego
- Top 15 San Diego Landmarks
- Top 10 San Diego Landmarks
- Top 5 San Diego Landmarks
- Map Of San Diego Landmarks
- We Hope You’ll Join Our Journey
- Helpful Related Articles
San Diego Landmarks
Some Fascinating Facts About San Diego
Here’s some interesting facts about San Diego:
- San Diego is the second-largest city in California, with a population of over 1.4 million people.
- San Diego is home to the largest naval fleet in the world and is known as the “Birthplace of Naval Aviation.”
- The city is famous for its year-round mild climate, with an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most famous zoos in the world, and it’s home to over 3,500 animals.
- San Diego is home to several famous landmarks, including: the USS Midway Museum, Balboa Park, and the iconic Hotel del Coronado.
- San Diego is also known for its beaches, with over 70 miles of coastline, including popular spots like La Jolla Cove, Coronado Beach, and Mission Beach.
- San Diego is a hub for craft beer, with over 150 breweries and brewpubs in the county.
- The city is home to several universities and research institutions, including the University of California San Diego, San Diego State University, and the Scripps Research Institute.
- San Diego is also a popular location for the film industry, with several movies and TV shows filmed in the city, including “Top Gun” and “Anchorman.”
- The San Diego-Coronado Bridge, which spans over two miles, is one of the longest curved bridges in the world.
Top 15 San Diego Landmarks
We’re Excited To Share Our List Of The Top 15 San Diego Landmarks With YOU
San Diego is renowned for its idyllic climate, 70 miles of pristine beaches and a dazzling array of world-class family attractions. The city also features some amazing landmarks.
More Than Just Parks is thrilled to share our list of the Top 15 San Diego Landmarks with you. And we’re kicking it off at #15 with LEGOLAND California.
15. Legoland California
The history of Legoland California dates back to the early 1990s, when the Lego Group began exploring the idea of creating a theme park in North America.
In 1995, the Lego Group purchased a 128-acre site in Carlsbad, California, and began construction on Legoland California. The park officially opened its doors on March 20, 1999, becoming the third Legoland theme park in the world, after Legoland Billund in Denmark and Legoland Windsor in the UK.
Initially, Legoland California was a 128-acre park that featured more than 60 rides, attractions, and shows, all built around the iconic Lego brand. The park included several themed areas, including Dino Island, Duplo Village, and Imagination Zone.
Miniland – Grauman’s Chinese Theater | Courtesy Of Wikimedia Commons
The Park Has Continued To Grow & Expand
Over the years, Legoland California has continued to grow and expand. In 2005, the park added a new area called Knight’s Kingdom, which included several new attractions and rides, including the Dragon Coaster and the Royal Joust.
In 2008, Legoland California opened its own water park, which featured more than 20 water-based rides and attractions. The water park was expanded in 2017 with the addition of the Surfer’s Cove area, which included several new attractions, including a wave pool and a six-lane racer slide.
It opened its first hotel in 2011, which featured more than 250 rooms and a variety of Lego-themed amenities, including a Lego play area, themed rooms, and a giant Lego dragon in the lobby.
Legoland California has continued to expand and add new attractions. In 2018, the park opened the Lego City: Deep Sea Adventure Ride, which features a submarine ride through an aquarium filled with real sea creatures.
In 2021, Legoland California announced plans to open a new land called Lego Movie World, which will feature several new attractions based on the popular Lego Movie franchise.
Today, Legoland California is one of the top theme parks in California, attracting millions of visitors each year and continuing to grow and evolve with new attractions and experiences.
14. Presidio Park
Our next San Diego landmark is a place which enables you to walk in the footsteps of California’s early European settlers. The popular attraction is the location where Gaspar de Portola and Junipero Serra constructed the San Diego Presidio and the Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769.
At #14 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks is Presidio Park.
The park’s history dates back to the early days of Spanish settlement in California.
In 1769, Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola and Franciscan friar Junipero Serra established the first Spanish settlement in California near what is now Presidio Park. The site was chosen for its strategic location near the natural harbor of San Diego Bay.
Over the years, the Spanish settlement grew and evolved, with the construction of a military fort or presidio in 1770. The presidio was designed to protect the settlement and its inhabitants from attacks by Native Americans.
Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1822. The Presidio became part of Mexican California. In the 1830s, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
A Prominent San Diego Businessman Worked To Preserve The Site
In 1907, George Marston, a prominent San Diego businessman and philanthropist, purchased the land that would become Presidio Park with the intention of preserving the historic site. He worked with architect John Nolen to design a park that would celebrate the history and culture of the early Spanish settlers in California.
The park was officially dedicated in 1929 and included several important landmarks and attractions, including the Junipero Serra Museum, which houses artifacts and exhibits related to the history of the Spanish settlement, and the Serra Cross, a 29-foot tall cross that sits atop a hill overlooking the park.
Over the years, Presidio Park has continued to evolve and grow. In 1960, the park was designated a California Historical Landmark, recognizing its importance to the history of California.
Today, it remains a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a glimpse into the rich history and culture of San Diego’s early settlers.
13. Torrey Pines State Reserve
Our next San Diego landmark preserves not only trees, but also one of the last salt marshes and waterfowl refuges in Southern California. It features high broken cliffs and deep ravines on headlands overlooking the ocean. Hikers can follow trails through stands of wind-sculpted pines.
Welcome to Torrey Pines State Reserve, which is #13 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks.
Torrey Pines State Reserve covers approximately 2,000 acres of coastal land and features several miles of hiking trails, pristine beaches, and stunning ocean views. It is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including the rare and endangered Torrey Pine tree, which is found only in this region.
The history of Torrey Pines State Reserve dates back to the early 1900s, when local conservationists recognized the need to protect the area from development. In 1899, the San Diego Natural History Society was formed, and its members began to lobby for the creation of a nature preserve in the area.
In 1908, the state of California purchased 364 acres of land to create the Torrey Pines State Reserve, which was officially dedicated in 1921. Over the years, additional land has been added to the reserve, bringing its current size to approximately 2,000 acres.
Torrey Pines Today
Today, Torrey Pines State Reserve is a popular destination for hiking, birdwatching, and enjoying the natural beauty of the California coast. The reserve features several trails of varying lengths and difficulty, including the popular Beach Trail, which leads down to the beach below the cliffs.
In addition to its natural beauty, Torrey Pines State Reserve is also home to several cultural landmarks, including the Torrey Pines Lodge, which was built in the 1920s and now serves as a visitor center and museum.
The reserve also hosts a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year, including guided hikes, birdwatching tours, and nature walks.
12. Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial
Our next San Diego landmark is considered one of the most unique veterans’ memorials in the United States, as it is the only such memorial to honor veterans (living and deceased) from the Revolutionary War to the current global War on Terror.
At #12 on our list on the Best San Diego Landmarks is the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.
The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial is situated atop Mount Soledad, a prominent hill that offers sweeping views of the surrounding area.
The history of the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial dates back to the early 1900s, when a wooden cross was erected on the summit of the hill. Over the years, the cross became a symbol of the sacrifices made by American soldiers, sailors, and Marines.
In 1952, a group of veterans known as the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association took over the care of the cross and began holding annual memorial services at the site. In the years that followed, the association worked to expand the memorial, adding plaques and markers honoring individual veterans and military units.
A Legal Challenge Was Brought Against The Memorial
In 1989, a legal challenge was brought against the memorial, arguing that the presence of a religious symbol on public land violated the First Amendment’s prohibition against the establishment of religion.
The case was eventually settled in 1991, with the cross remaining in place but surrounded by secular symbols and monuments honoring veterans of all faiths.
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense designated the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial a national memorial, recognizing its importance as a tribute to the sacrifices made by American service members.
Today, the memorial includes over 3,600 plaques honoring individual veterans, as well as several large monuments and displays dedicated to various branches of the military.
11. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Our next San Diego landmark includes five original adobe buildings which are part of a historic park. There’s also museums, unique retail shops, and several restaurants. At #11 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks is Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
The history of Old Town San Diego dates back to 1769, when a Spanish expedition led by Gaspar de Portola established the first settlement in what is now California. Over the years, the settlement grew and evolved, with the construction of a number of adobe buildings, churches, and other structures.
In the mid-1800s, San Diego became a part of the United States, and Old Town San Diego became an important center of commerce and trade. However, by the early 1900s, the area had fallen into disrepair, and many of the historic buildings had been demolished or fallen into ruin.
In 1968, the state of California established Old Town San Diego State Historic Park with the goal of preserving and restoring the historic buildings and sites in the area. Today, the park includes several museums, including: the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park Visitor Center, the Casa de Estudillo, and the Whaley House Museum, as well as a variety of shops, restaurants, and other attractions.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park can explore the adobe buildings and exhibits, enjoy traditional Mexican food and entertainment, and learn about the history and culture of San Diego’s early settlers. The park also hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, including the popular Dia de los Muertos celebration in the fall.
Top 10 San Diego Landmarks
10. Whaley House Museum
We’re on to our Top 10 San Diego Landmarks. Our next site is a historic landmark and museum located in Old Town San Diego. At #10 on our list is the Whaley House Museum.
The Whaley House has a rich and varied history. In addition to serving as the family home of the Whaleys, the building has also been used as a courtroom, a theater, and a general store. It is also said to be haunted, and is widely considered to be one of the most haunted houses in America.
Today, the Whaley House Museum is open to the public, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the life and times of San Diego’s early settlers. The museum features a variety of exhibits and artifacts, including period furniture, clothing, and household items.
Visitors to the Whaley House Museum can also take guided tours of the building, learning about the history of the Whaleys and their impact on San Diego. The museum also offers special events and programs throughout the year, including ghost tours and paranormal investigations for those interested in the building’s haunted past.
Whether you’re a history buff, a paranormal enthusiast, or just looking for a unique and interesting way to spend an afternoon, the Whaley House Museum is a must-visit destination in San Diego.
Whaley House Museum | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
9. Gaslamp Quarter
Our next San Diego landmark is known for its great abundance of entertainment sites and its nightlife venues. However, it’s also known for its historical places. At #9 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks is the Gaslamp Quarter.
The history of the Gaslamp Quarter dates back to the mid-1800s, when San Diego was a small, dusty frontier town. The area that is now the Gaslamp Quarter was originally known as New Town, and was located on the outskirts of the city.
In the late 1800s, the area began to develop as a commercial center, with the construction of a number of large, ornate buildings. Many of these buildings were designed in the popular Victorian style, featuring intricate facades, ornate balconies, and other decorative elements.
It Became A Bustling Center Of Commerce & Entertainment
By the early 1900s, the Gaslamp Quarter had become a bustling center of commerce and entertainment, with a wide variety of shops, theaters, and restaurants. However, in the decades that followed, the area fell into decline, with many of the historic buildings falling into disrepair or being demolished.
In the 1970s, a group of business owners and community leaders began an effort to revitalize the Gaslamp Quarter, working to restore the historic buildings and attract new businesses and visitors to the area. Today, the Gaslamp Quarter is a thriving and vibrant district, filled with trendy shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as a number of historic landmarks and cultural institutions.
Visitors to the Gaslamp Quarter can explore the district’s many historic buildings, take a stroll down the pedestrian-friendly streets, and enjoy the area’s vibrant nightlife. The Gaslamp Quarter is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of San Diego.
8. Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala
It’s impossible to prepare a list of the Best San Diego Landmarks without including the state’s historic missions. Have no fear because we haven’t. At #8 we have Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala.
It’s the first of the 21 missions built in California by the Spanish Franciscans in the 18th century.
It was founded by Father Junipero Serra on July 16, 1769, and it remains an active parish to this day. The mission was built to spread Christianity among the local indigenous populations and to establish a Spanish presence in the region.
The original mission was destroyed by fire in 1775, but it was rebuilt and expanded over time. The mission was revitalized in 1931, using historic documents and remains to restore the mission to its former glory.
Today, the mission is a popular tourist destination, and it serves as a significant historical and cultural landmark.
Visitors can explore the mission’s beautiful gardens, museum, and historical exhibits, as well as attend mass at the active parish. The mission remains a vibrant part of Catholic history in the new world.
7. La Jolla Cove Beach
Our next San Diego landmark is a gateway to the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, a human-made and protected marine reserve. Snorkelers, divers, and swimmers enter the ocean here to exercise, sightsee, and explore sea life in this underwater park.
At #7 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks is La Jolla Cove Beach.
La Jolla Cove Beach is a picturesque beach located in the upscale neighborhood of La Jolla in San Diego. The beach is known for its stunning views, crystal-clear waters, and unique rock formations.
The history of La Jolla Cove dates back to the early 1900s, when it was used primarily as a fishing spot by local residents. Over the years, the area grew in popularity, attracting visitors from around the world who were drawn to the beach’s natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere.
La Jolla Cove Beach | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
It’s A Popular Destination For Swimming, Snorkeling & Sunbathing
Today, La Jolla Cove is a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and rock formations, which provide ample opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and exploring the local flora and fauna.
One of the most distinctive features of La Jolla Cove Beach is the abundance of marine life that can be found in the waters surrounding the beach. Visitors can often spot seals, sea lions, and dolphins frolicking in the waves, and the beach is also a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
In addition to its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, La Jolla Cove is also home to a number of shops, restaurants, and galleries, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the local wildlife, or simply soak up the sun and surf, La Jolla Cove Beach is a must-visit destination in San Diego.
6. The William Heath Davis House
Our next San Diego landmark is the oldest house in the Gaslamp Quarter, a pre-framed lumber ‘salt box’ home, shipped from the East Coast by boat around Cape Horn. And it’s believed that the spirit of an unknown Victorian woman still resides there.
At #6 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks is The William Heath Davis House.
The house was built in 1850 by William Heath Davis, a prominent businessman and real estate developer who played a key role in the early development of San Diego.
The history of the William Heath Davis House is closely tied to the history of San Diego itself. In the mid-1800s, Davis purchased a large parcel of land in what is now the Gaslamp Quarter, with the intention of developing a thriving new city in the area.
To that end, Davis built the William Heath Davis House as his family’s residence, as well as a model home to showcase his vision for the new city. The house was one of the first brick buildings in San Diego, and was designed in the popular Greek Revival style, with columns, pediments, and other classical elements.
The House Remains An Important Landmark In The Gaslamp Quarter
Despite his ambitious plans, Davis’s development efforts ultimately failed, due in part to the economic downturn of the 1850s, as well as competition from other nearby cities. However, the William Heath Davis House remained an important landmark in the Gaslamp Quarter, and played a key role in the area’s subsequent development as a vibrant commercial and cultural center.
Over the years, the William Heath Davis House has been used for a variety of purposes, including as a hotel, a brothel, and a boarding house. In the 1960s, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark, and in the decades that followed, it was carefully restored and opened to the public as a museum and cultural center.
Today, visitors to the William Heath Davis House can explore the rich history of San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter, as well as learn about the life and times of William Heath Davis and his family. The museum features a variety of exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays, providing a fascinating glimpse into the early days of San Diego and the American West.
William Heath Davis House | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Top 5 San Diego Landmarks
5. USS Midway Museum
We’re on to the Top 5 San Diego landmarks. At #5 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks is the USS Midway Museum.
The USS Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. It was named after the climactic Battle of Midway which was fought in June of 1942. Ironically, the Midway was built in only 17 months, but missed World War II by one week when commissioned on September 10, 1945.
The USS Midway Museum is a naval aviation museum located in San Diego, California. It is housed on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, which served the United States Navy for 47 years.
The museum offers visitors the opportunity to explore the ship and learn about its history, as well as the history of naval aviation.
Things To See & Do At The Museum
Some of the things to see and do at the USS Midway Museum include:
- Flight Deck Tour: Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the flight deck, where they can see aircraft on display and learn about the ship’s history.
- Hangar Deck Tour: Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the hangar deck, where they can see aircraft on display and learn about the ship’s history.
- Audio Tour: Visitors can take an audio tour to learn about the ship’s history and the different areas of the ship.
- Flight Simulator: Visitors can experience what it’s like to fly an aircraft carrier-based plane in a flight simulator.
- Flight Theater: Visitors can watch a film about the history of the USS Midway and naval aviation.
- Aircraft on Display: Visitors can see over 30 aircraft on display, including fighter jets, helicopters, and reconnaissance planes.
- Interactive Exhibits: Visitors can explore interactive exhibits that provide a hands-on learning experience and give visitors an idea of what it was like to live and work on the ship.
- Access to the Island: Visitors can explore the ship’s island, which offers a panoramic view of San Diego Bay.
- Gift shop: Visitors can purchase souvenirs and memorabilia in the gift shop
- Food Court: Visitors can enjoy a meal at the food court
- Special events and activities: throughout the year, such as aircraft carrier flight operations demonstrations, lectures, and tours.
4. Belmont Park
Our next San Diego landmark is home to 12 thrilling rides, 6 adventurous attractions, and 3 oceanfront dining experiences. Classic favorites such as our Bumper Cars, Carousel, and a Tilt-a-Whirl sit alongside modern rides such as the Beach Blaster, Octotron, and Control Freak.
At #3 on our list of the Best California Landmarks is Belmont Park.
Belmont Park has a rich history that dates back over a century.
The park was originally built in 1925 as the Mission Beach Amusement Center, designed to serve as a recreational destination for the growing population of San Diego. The park featured a variety of attractions, including a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, and a wooden plunge.
In the 1930s, the park was renamed Belmont Park, and many new attractions were added to the site, including a saltwater swimming pool, a dance hall, and a casino. During World War II, the park was closed to the public and was used as a training center for Navy pilots.
The Park Was Renovated & Reopened
After the war, the park was renovated and reopened, with new attractions added to the site, including a carousel and a miniature golf course. The park also served as a center for surfing, with a surf shop located on the premises.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the park fell into disrepair, and many of its attractions were dismantled or destroyed. However, in the 1990s, the park underwent a major renovation, with many of its historic attractions restored or rebuilt.
Today, Belmont Park remains a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, featuring a wide variety of attractions, including a roller coaster, a zip line, and a laser tag arena. The park also features a variety of shops and restaurants, and it remains a beloved symbol of San Diego’s rich history and culture.
3. Cabrillo National Monument
Our next San Diego landmark is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources. At #3 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks is Cabrillo National Monument.
Cabrillo National Monument is dedicated to Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on the West Coast of the United States.
In September 1542, Cabrillo led an expedition of two ships, the San Salvador and the Victoria, from the port of Navidad, Mexico, to explore the coast of present-day California. After sailing for several months, the expedition arrived at what is now San Diego Bay in September 1542. Cabrillo and his men went ashore, becoming the first Europeans to explore the area.
The Monument Was Established To Commemorate Cabrillo’s Voyage
In 1913, the Cabrillo National Monument was established to commemorate Cabrillo’s historic voyage and to protect the area’s unique natural and cultural resources. The monument covers an area of approximately 160 acres and includes several important features, including the Point Loma Lighthouse, the Cabrillo statue, and the tidepools.
The Point Loma Lighthouse was built in 1855 and served as a guide for ships entering San Diego Bay for over 35 years. Today, the lighthouse is a museum and offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the area and the life of a lighthouse keeper in the 1800s.
The Cabrillo Statue
The Cabrillo statue, located near the entrance to the monument, was erected in 1913 and is a tribute to Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo and his historic voyage. The statue depicts Cabrillo holding a sword and looking out over the Pacific Ocean.
The tidepools, located near the monument’s western boundary, are a unique and fragile ecosystem that is home to a variety of marine life. Visitors can explore the tidepools during low tide and observe sea stars, anemones, crabs, and other creatures in their natural habitat.
Today, Cabrillo National Monument is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can hike the park’s many trails, take in breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, and learn about the area’s rich natural and cultural history.
Cabrillo National Monument | Courtesy of NPS
2. San Diego Zoo & Safari Park
We’re on to our final 2 San Diego landmarks. Our next site is an 1,800-acre wildlife park. It’s home to more than 3,600 animals representing over 300 species.
Located in Escondido, California, it welcomes more than 1.5 million guests each year to see animals in herds of mixed species, in expansive savanna habitats.
At #2 on our list of the Best San Diego Landmarks is the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.
San Diego Zoo Entrance Elephant | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
It’s A World-Renowned Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is a world-renowned zoo that is home to over 3,500 animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies. The zoo covers an area of 100 acres and has a wide range of exhibits and attractions, including the African Rocks exhibit, the Australian Outback exhibit, the Panda Trek exhibit, and the Elephant Odyssey exhibit.
Visitors can see animals such as tigers, lions, giraffes, koalas, polar bears, and more. The zoo also offers a variety of educational programs, tours, and animal encounters.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is an expansive wildlife preserve that spans over 1,800 acres and is home to over 3,500 animals from more than 400 species. The park offers visitors the opportunity to see animals in a more natural environment, with large open habitats that simulate the animals’ natural habitats.
The park’s attractions include the African Plains exhibit, the Condor Ridge exhibit, the Tiger Trail exhibit, and the African Outpost exhibit. Visitors can see animals such as rhinos, cheetahs, elephants, gorillas, and more.
The Safari Park also offers a variety of tours and animal encounters, as well as a hot air balloon ride that provides stunning views of the park and its inhabitants.
Both the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are dedicated to conservation, education, and research, and provide visitors with an unforgettable experience and the opportunity to learn about and connect with animals from around the world.
1. Balboa Park
As the # San Diego Landmark, More Than Just Parks has selected Balboa Park. It’s a cultural oasis that includes 17 museums, gardens galore and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. At 1,200 acres, Balboa Park is one of North America’s most iconic urban parks and a must see on any visit to San Diego.
In 1868, the city of San Diego set aside 1,400 acres of land for a city park. However, it wasn’t until 1892 that the city began to develop the park. In 1895, a group of civic leaders formed the San Diego Park Improvement Committee, which was tasked with overseeing the development of the park.
In 1902, the city hired landscape architect Samuel Parsons Jr. to develop a master plan for the park. Parsons’ plan called for a mix of open space, recreational facilities, and cultural institutions. He also envisioned the park as a place where people could come together to enjoy nature and culture.
In 1910, the city hosted the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. The exposition was a huge success and led to the construction of many of the park’s most iconic buildings, including the California Tower, the Botanical Building, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Over the years, Balboa Park has continued to grow and evolve. Today, the park is home to 17 museums, a variety of gardens and natural areas, numerous recreational facilities, and several performing arts venues. It is also a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and attracts millions of visitors each year.
Things To Do At Balboa Park
- Visit the Museums: Balboa Park is home to 17 museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Man, the Museum of Photographic Arts, and the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
- Explore the Gardens: Balboa Park has several beautiful gardens, including the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Botanical Building and Lily Pond, and the Desert Garden.
- See a Performance: The park has several performing arts venues, including the Old Globe Theatre, the San Diego Junior Theatre, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, which hosts free organ concerts on Sundays.
- Ride the Balboa Park Carousel: This historic carousel features hand-carved wooden animals and has been in operation since 1910.
- Play at the Playgrounds: The park has several playgrounds, including a large playground near the San Diego Zoo, and a smaller one near the Moreton Bay Fig Tree.
- Visit the San Diego Zoo: While not technically part of Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is adjacent to the park and is one of the most popular attractions in the area.
- Attend a Festival: Balboa Park hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the San Diego County Fair, the December Nights holiday celebration, and the International Dance Festival.
- Take a Tour: The park offers a variety of guided tours, including a historic walking tour, a botanical tour, and a photography tour.
- Relax and Picnic: Balboa Park has many quiet spots and grassy areas where visitors can relax, enjoy a picnic, and take in the park’s beauty.
- Rent a Bike: Rent a bike and explore the park’s many paths and trails. There are also bike tours available for those who prefer a guided experience.
Map Of San Diego Landmarks
List Of San Diego Landmarks
- Balboa Park
- San Diego Zoo & Safari Park
- Cabrillo National Monument
- Belmont Park
- USS Midway Museum
- The William Heath Davis House
- La Jolla Cove Beach
- Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala
- Gaslamp Quarter
- Whaley House Museum
- Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
- Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial
- Torrey Pines State Reserve
- Presidio Park
- Legoland California
Why Trust Us About San Diego Landmarks?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes as the “Parks Brothers”).
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We absolutely LOVE America’s public lands and have spent our entire adult lives bringing these places to life through our amazing short films.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, U.S. Forest Service, and more for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
And, in 2018, our father – having spent a lifetime teaching history – joined us so that he could help us to tell the incredible stories behind these amazing places.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We Hope You’ll Join Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!
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