California, United States

San Diego: The city of Balboa Park, cliff-side beaches, & the Zoo

San Diego: The city of Balboa Park, cliff-side beaches, & the Zoo

I had visited San Diego many years ago and fell in love with the vibe of the city and knew Will would love it so it was on the top of our list for our Southern California Thanksgiving trip. There’s a lot more to explore in the surrounding area but this is our top list for a weekend in San Diego.


Balboa Park

This “park” is the cultural heart of San Diego and an absolute must do! I’m putting the word park in quotes because a good portion of this park is a canyon and is actually quite difficult to traverse on foot. Something we found out while trying to walk from our AirBnb to the museum section of Balboa Park. It’s doable, just a lot of uphill climbing in the dirt. 🙂 Funny enough the name of the canyon had to cross was Florida Canyons, and as Floridians we found that quiet ironic considering we live in absolute flat land over here on the east coast.

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My favorite part of the park was the museum section with live-street artists, gorgeous Neo-Colonial style buildings, museums galore, and the botanical garden. We spent the early afternoon strolling around and taking photos. While there we also stumbled upon an artists community with cute little shops and hidden courtyards.

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The only museum we decided to pop into was the Museum of Man because one of Will’s old students recommended it to us. It was a great mix of pretty much anything related to humanity such as the issue of race throughout history, beer around the world, evolution of Homo sapiens, domestication of pets, and Mayan art. We paid extra for the exhibit on cannibalism because we thought it was fascinating; it totally was! In addition the museum of man, there were many small art museums and a science center nearby but we decided to nix those this trip.

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San Diego Zoo

This has been named one of the best zoos in the world and it absolutely lives up to that fame. Like many zoos, San Diego takes conservation and animal protection quiet seriously and you can learn a lot about their global efforts on that front. They have a diverse amount of exhibits with lots of primates (a favorite of mine), immersive bird houses, arctic animals, and the big African animals.

If you are traveling with a family block out all day – there’s lots for the kiddos to see! We spent about 4-5 hours there (again, we do not have kids) and saw every exhibit.

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La Jolla Beach

A short drive outside of the city is a gorgeous and incredibly photogenic cliff-protected beach. We went to the beach for some sunset photos after the zoo (an easy two-for-one deal). There were a ton of people there with the same idea as us but we still got some fantastic photos of the famed Pacific beach sunsets.


Gaslamp District & Downtown San Diego

Not too much to see here but the Gaslamp District is part of historic San Diego. There are a ton of restaurants in this area but we were there at an awkward in-between meal times  so we did not stop at any. We walked around the downtown district and along the coast line up to Little Italy.


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