Most of the cultural institutions in Balboa Park offer tours of their own collections. To experience Balboa Park, we recommend the following tours:
Balboa Park Tours from the Visitors Center
A fascinating two-hour audio tour of the Park can be purchased at the Balboa Park Visitors Center. There is an adult and child version of the tour, which covers Park history, architecture, horticulture, cultural attractions--all created by experts in the field.
There are also free tours offered throughout the week that meet at and begin from the Balboa Park Visitors Center located in the historic House of Hospitality on El Prado walkway. The Balboa Park Visitors Center is open daily from 9:30am -4:30pm.
Architectural Heritage Tours (First Friday of each month)
Led by The Committee of 100, these tours are offered on the first Friday of each month at 10:00am.
Botanical Building Docent-led Tours by the San Diego Floral Association
3rd Friday at 11am
Step back in time and experience one of the most engaging places in Balboa Park: the historic Botanical Building. 45-minute docent-led tours showcase the origins, design and horticulture of the park’s jewel, its 1915 lath house. Learn the fascinating story of English immigrant and world-renowned begonia expert, Alfred D. Robinson—the visionary behind the building.
Tours will leave from the south end of the Lily Pond
Offshoot Tours (Every Saturday)
Offered every Saturday by trained volunteers, the tours start at 10:00 a.m. for an easy-paced one-hour walk with rotating themes. Tour themes include Balboa Park history (first Saturday of the month), palm trees (second Saturday), other trees in the Park (third Saturday), desert vegetation (fourth Saturday) and tour del dia (fifth Saturday). There are no tours from Thanksgiving through the 2nd Saturday in January. Reservations are not required.
Ranger-led Tours (Every Tuesday and Sunday)
Balboa Park rangers discuss the historical and botanical treasures of Balboa Park at 11:00am every Tuesday and Sunday.
Japanese Friendship Garden Docent-led Tours
Rotating docent tours of the upper garden (on Saturdays and Sundays) and lower garden (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). Tour times vary. Check the schedule. http://www.niwa.org/docent-tours/