Making my rounds each day, it’s easy to start taking the stuccoed façades, red-tiled roofs, and sculptural details of Balboa Park’s historic buildings for granted—especially as my attention wavers between them and my ground-level business at hand.
Fortunately, the Architectural Heritage Tour, presented free on the first Wednesday of the month at 9:30am, is there to fill me in on how this impressive grouping of scenic structures came into being smack dab in the middle of a major metropolitan area and three glorious dog parks.
Led by a member of the Committee of 100, an organization that advocates for the preservation of Balboa Park, the Architectural Heritage Tour is a walking history book—but one with lots of pictures, or at least great photo opportunities! Focusing on the Central Mesa area, the tour reviews each building’s origin, purpose, and architectural features.
The tour also describes how the Park was founded during San Diego’s early days and the two major expositions in 1915 and 1935 that generated the need for new exhibition spaces and gardens. Perhaps more importantly, the tour provides a primer on all the things bipeds can see and do inside each building, making it a great place start for anyone new in town or just visiting.
The tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and meets in front of the Visitors Center entrance, where I can always get a few gulps of fresh water from the doggie dish before embarking on a tour.
If you miss this monthly tour, you can also rent the walking audio tour inside the Visitors Center, which covers the same ground. Just be sure to tell them Cosmos sent you!