So you’ve packed up your pack and are driving to beautiful San Diego for a fun-filled July 4 weekend. Wise decision, except you may have inadvertently put beaches and animal theme parks at the top of your itinerary not realizing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you have to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of one of the most significant events in Southern California history. I’m of course barking about the 1915 Panama-California Exposition that put Balboa Park and San Diego on the world map.
Being the lucky dog you are, the mid-point in the year-long Centennial Celebrations calendar presents a unique confluence of some of the biggest exhibitions and activities of 2015 in Balboa Park. This step-by-step itinerary will help you get the most out of your long holiday weekend.
Step 1: Stop by the Balboa Park Visitors Center to fetch a Multi-Day Explorer Pass for you, your mate, and everyone in your litter.
Step 2: Head over to the San Diego History Center to view a brief documentary on Balboa Park’s history and to sniff out three important Centennial-themed exhibitions: San Diego Invites the World: The 1915 Expo, Masterworks: Art of the Exposition Era,and The Ingenious Dr. Seuss.
Step 3: Hightail it to the Mingei International Museum to reconnect with your American roots through two colorful displays of Americana: Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum and Black Dolls from the Collection of Deborah Neff, which closes July 5.
Step 4: Swing by the always-free Timken Museum of Art to take a quick gander at the world-famous painting by Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, on special loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Step 5: Take a load off your paws by relaxing in the new Plaza de Panama Living Room, where on Saturday at 1pm you can enjoy a free music performance as part of the Music in the Park series.
Step 6: Instead of or in addition to Step 5, slip into the nearby Panama 66 outdoor café to sample some of the best offerings of San Diego’s award-winning craft beer industry in the historic San Diego Museum of Art sculpture garden.
Step 7: Celebrate the Fourth of July at an American-style picnic at the House of Hospitality Lawn Program, hosted by the good ol’ House of USA on Saturday, 12–4pm, and Sunday, 2–3pm.
Step 8: If you aren’t dog-tired yet from a full-day, or you are on Day 2 of your visit, it’s time to free roam the dozens of other park attractions and museums to see such pup-friendly exhibitions as Circus: Science Under the Big Top at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Coast to Cactus in Southern California at the San Diego Natural History Museum, and 2theXtreme—MathAlive! at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
If after all that you still haven’t seen and heard enough, visit celebratebalboapark.org for a complete listing of other Centennial activities in Balboa Park.