BJ and Diesel write: Our family’s 2016 New Year’s resolution was to sniff out one new activity each week of the year. However, having both been around since the turn of the century, we feel like we’ve already done everything there is to do in Balboa Park. We double dog dare you to think of something we could have possibly missed.
Cosmos: Since I, in all honesty, have yet to do everything there is to do in Balboa Park, I should have no problem digging up five things your pack has yet to experience. When scouting out new areas in Balboa Park, I’ve discovered it’s important to not be a fraidy cat and look behind and underneath places you are already familiar with. What may appear to be an off-limits area for park maintenance vehicles and staff could very well be an awesome new discovery (though please don’t go into areas that in fact say “off limits”).
Here are a few examples:
Old Cactus Garden — Because the Desert Garden is so prominently situated on Park Boulevard across from the Zoo’s carousel, it’s easy to oversniff Balboa Park’s original cactus garden nestled behind the Balboa Park Club, off of Pan American Plaza. Originally designed by Kate Sessions for the 1935 Exposition, the garden’s dense succulents will be in full bloom in the coming months.
Gold Gulch Trail — Even intrepid tracking dogs can miss this “road less traveled” that starts toward the back of the Zoro Garden. Winding past the Japanese Friendship Garden’s cherry tree grove, it leads all the way down(under) to the Australian Garden, which may be the least photographed garden in all of Balboa Park in spite of its many beautiful trees.
Garden Court — If you were to ask anyone, other than a Park Ranger, “Where is the Garden Court?” you would likely get a blank stare. Why? Because most people don’t even realize there’s anything for visitors to explore behind the Balboa Park Administration Building, let alone a manicured garden with fountains, gazebos, and colonnades.
Bridle Path — You’ve probably walked right past the access trail to the Bridle Path during one of your many visits to Nate’s Point Dog Park but weren’t sure if any old mutt was allowed to venture under the Cabrillo Bridge. The Bridle Path runs along the 163 highway from the Pine Grove Picnic Area to the Marston House, offering a scenic alternative path along the Park’s west side.
Grape Street Dog Park — Speaking of dog parks, unless you live in the South Park/Golden Hill neighborhoods, there’s a very good chance you’ve completely missed this little slice of heaven on earth. The Grape Street Dog Park not only boasts excellent views of the downtown skyline, and even more areas awaiting discovery thanks to a couple of trails branching out from the off-leash area, but there’s plenty of free parking!