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Scott from Bakersfield asked

Museums and restaurants in Balboa Park?

My sister and I are going to be visiting San Diego in November as part of a 4-day cruise.  We are thinking of doing a shore excursion which includes admission to 4 museums at Balboa Park.  What are the best ones to see?  Which ones should we avoid?  Are there any exceptional dining options we should check out?  We will have several hours to look around.  Thanks!

San Diego (California)

2 Answers
top answer by
Jorge from San Diego

Hello Scott,

Have fun in San Diego !! A couple of thoughts:

On Museums: unfortunately I'm not much of a museum-goer but just this past weekend we used the Groupon special ($8 for 2 people) to check out the San Diego Automotive Museum; it was a lot of fun (plan about an hour). The Japanese Friendship Garden, though not a museum, is a beautiful garden in Balboa Park. Being a military town, the USS Midway Museum is also a blast, unfortunately it isn't in Balboa Park but it'll be real close to your Cruise Ship dock.

On Restaurants: El Prado is likely the default stop while in Balboa Park though a bit pricey. If you can pull off a stop to either Old Town San Diego or Gaslamp Quarter you'll have more options for restaurants and entertainment.

Safe travels !


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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Diego (city)
  2. San Diego Automotive Museum (attraction)
  3. Japanese Friendship Garden (attraction)
  4. USS Midway Museum (attraction)
  5. El Prado (attraction)
  6. Old Town San Diego (attraction)
  7. Gaslamp Quarter (attraction)
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answered first by
Katherine from San Diego

I live in San Diego and with one day, that does not sound like the most fun option.  Our museums are okay, but not outstanding, though Balboa Park itself is very pretty and great for taking pictures.  Taking a walking tour of the Gaslamp area and visiting the museums there or kayaking in La Jolla or wandering around Coronado and visiting the Hotel Del Coronado would be better options in my mind.

I like the Marston House Museum & Gardensbecause I like house museums.  The Mingei International Museum is interesting.  The Museum of Photographic Arts is nice but very small.  The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is fun for kids.  The San Diego Air & Space Museum and San Diego Automotive Museum are popular.  San Diego Natural History Museum is good for kids, though sometimes has really good special exhibits.  I'm not a big fan of The San Diego Museum of Art.

If you stay in Balboa Park, The Prado at Balboa Park is a nice restaurant.  For a hot new restaurant (pricey but good by celebrity chef Richard Blais), I would go to Juniper & Ivy just outside of Little Italy.  South Park has some of San Diego's best restaurants, but might be hard to get to if you don't have a car.  One of my favorites is Buona Forchetta.

I did write a post about some of San Diego's house museums, which includes the Marston House if you're interested.  Also, if your cruise also goes to Catalina, I wrote quite a few posts about Catalina.  My blog is Travel the World.

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