Balboa Park in San Diego is larger than some towns and is comprised of museums, restaurants, the San Diego Zoo, and of course, acres of park land and gardens. If you spent your entire vacation in Balboa Park, you wouldn’t feel like you missed out on anything—it’s all in there! This includes El Prado, a complex consisting of 13 historic buildings, structures, and gardens, most of which were built for the Panama-California Exposition back in 1915.
Today, many of these structures have been put into use as museums and are an integral part of what makes the park so special. The entire complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and can be visited and explored today. Here’s a list of a few of the buildings you can expect to see during your visit to Balboa Park and El Prado San Diego.
The Cabrillo Bridge at El Prado San Diego
This bridge was built for guests to enter the exposition in 1915 and hasn’t changed in appearance much at all over the years. Standing high enough to be visible from all over the park, it was renovated in 2014 to meet safety codes.
Surrounded by brick arches, this garden was originally named Montezuma’s Gardens when constructed in 1915, only to be renamed Alcazar Gardens during the fair of 1935. Today, it offers a peaceful place to sit and contemplate life’s mysteries.
The Botanical Building
This building and its two reflecting pools are thought to be one of the largest lath structures in the world. Looking a bit like an oversized bird cage from the same period, it’s unique façade and the gardens that surround it photograph beautifully.
Spreckel’s Organ Pavilion
One of the world’s largest organs, Spreckel’s Organ stands 75 feet high and cost over $33,500 to build in 1915; that would be over $800,000 in today’s dollars. During World War II when the Navy commandeered Balboa Park, the organ was silenced, and in the 80s it was very nearly lost forever. A million-dollar reconstruction brought the organ back to its former glory, and today free organ concerts are performed on Sundays at 2:00 PM.
San Diego Natural History Museum
Originally the California Counties Building, it burned down in 1925 and was rebuilt for the World’s Fair as the Palace of Natural History in 1935. Today, it has been downgraded to simply a museum, and is known as the San Diego Natural History Museum, home to dinosaur bones, special gems, and a host of other natural exhibits.
After a Long Day of Adventures in Balboa Park and El Prado
The sight of the front door of your 710 Beach Rentals vacation escape at the end of a long day of sightseeing in San Diego will definitely be appreciated. Knowing you have somewhere to stretch out, relax, and enjoy all the comforts of home instead of being cramped into a sterile hotel room makes all the difference. Reserve yours today!