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Traffic & Transportation

Parking and Traffic 2015

With more than 350,000 people attending December Nights and extremely limited parking at Balboa Park, we encourage visitors to use the FREE off-site shuttles or take public transportation. Avoid the 163 southbound during the hours of 5-8pm, as this highway will be very congested. Use alternate routes to get to the Park and the shuttle stops. 

Printable Parking Map


Map to Shuttle Locations

The December Nights Shuttles  run on Friday from 3:00-midnight and on Saturday from 11:30 until midnight in all locations. The last shuttle leaves all sites at 8:30pm so plan to arrive at shuttle location BEFORE 7pm!  The last shuttle from the park is at 11:45pm.

  1.  City College Lots between 16th and "B and C" Streets: Parking is free and there are more than 1,500 parking spaces.  Shuttle drops off at 6th & Laurel Streets. The Park is approximately 1/4 mile from City College, so walking is an option. To get to the City College lots use I-5 and exit at "B" Street. 
  2. Downtown San Diego on Ash St between 5th and 6th Ave. Numerous parking lots in this area at $5, or free street parking after 6pm. Shuttle drops off at 6th and Laurel. 
  3. ***NOTE***
    There will be NO Shuttle from Petco Park this year! 


Balboa Park is accessible from most San Diego neighborhoods—as well as cities in East County, North County, and South Bay— by bus, trolley, or train.  By taking the bus or trolley you not only avoid traffic, but you help the environment, and it’s economical.

To create your personal trip plan, visit or call 511 to speak to one of the Transit Information Operators. 

MTS Trolley & Bus

  • From the South or East, take the  trolley to the City College Station in downtown San Diego and transfer to the MTS Route 7 (on 11th Avenue)  to Park Boulevard.
  • Or from the South or East, take the  Orange Line trolley to the 5th Ave Station in Downtown and walk 2 blocks north for the FREE shuttle.
  • From Hillcrest, Uptown, Mid-City, Normal Heights, City Heights, and North Park communities take any bus to University Avenue and Park Blvd and transfer to a special Route 7 shuttle heading to Park Blvd.
  • See all MTS Trolley and Bus schedules and route maps.
  • On Saturday 2 children under 12 ride free with any adult ticket purchase!


Ride your bike! Bicycle corrals can be found at Balboa Dr. & Laurel on the west side (Near Kate Sessions statue) and also in the Cascades, adjacent to Park Blvd and the footbridge.

Loading Zones can be found on Parks and Presidents - and on the west side of 6th and Laurel. Taxis, ride-sharing, or other vehicles can utilizes these 3 minute loading areas for pick-up and drop-off.

Rent a DecoBike. Ride into the park from any station in the city and dock at Station 163 on El Prado and Balboa Drive, Station 145 in front of the Zoo or Station 150 at Inspiration Lot. Download the DecoBike app for iPhone and Android to check for dock availability. Other stations in the area include: Station 164 on Balboa Drive and 6th Avenue, and Station 197 on Fir and 4th. Contact for more information.


Parking at for the public Balboa Park is extremely limited. There is some free parking, free disabled parking, and paid vehicle parking. All other areas require a permit. 

  • Free Parking: The San Diego Zoo lot is the only free, non-permited lot at the Park. It fills very quickly. Arrive early to park there. 
  • Free disabled parking: The  Fleet Science Center lot (156 spaces) is available for persons with a valid disabled placard or license plate. This lot is located on Park Blvd. and Space Theater Way. The Federal lot at Park Blvd and Presidents Way has 33 disabled spaces. 
  • Paid Parking: Optional preferred parking for $25/vehicle at the Natural History Museum parking lot and the South Carousel lot (both accessible from Park Blvd. and Village Place); and at the Inspiration Point parking lot for $20/vehicle (accessible from Park Blvd and Presidents Way). 
    These are the closest lots to the park. Cash and/or credit cards are accepted.
  • 2550 Fifth Ave (enter at 449 Maple). $25 (12/4 3:00 to midnight; 12/5 11am to midnight) No in and out privileges.
    Purchase parking for this lot ONLY at: