Balboa Park boasts 17 museums and cultural institutions, with an incredible diversity of collections. Take a stroll through the international folk arts of Mingei International Museum, check out displays of engineering genius at the Air & Space Museum, or learn about historical artwork from the Americas, Europe, and Asia at the San Diego Museum of Art. There is no shortage of things to see and do.
The Japanese Friendship Garden ("JFG") is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama. It illustrates two cultures and creates an immersive experience into Japanese culture. JFG's design is based on centuries-old Japanese techniques adapted to San Diego's climate and florae and seeks to foster a relationship between humans and nature, providing a respite attuned to Japanese simplicity, serenity, and aestheticism.
The goal of the San Diego Mineral and Gem Societies' museum is to help people gain a better understanding and appreciation of minerals, gems, fossils and the lapidary arts. Our museum is located in the San Diego Mineral & Gem Society building adjacent to the Spanish Village Art Center at Balboa Park, San Diego, California. The museum features many fine mineral, gem, lapidary and fossil specimens from around the world. The collection has been assembled over the last 75 years through purchases and donations. Admission to the museum is free.
The real world: it sure can be real interesting. Explore the natural history of Southern California—from past to present—at the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT). From rattlesnakes and flesh-eating beetles, to dinosaurs and fossils, to a pendulum that proves the earth is spinning, there’s something for everyone at theNAT. Visitors will be impressed by the unique, interactive exhibitions that span across five floors. The museum features a giant-screen theater with daily showings of 2D and 3D films, as well as rotating exhibitions that bring nature to life.
The classic 1905 Marston House was built for noted civic leader and merchant, George W. Marston, known as the “Father of Balboa Park,” and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by renowned local architects William Hebbard and Irving Gill, it sits on five acres of landscaped English and California influenced gardens. Multiple walking tours of surrounding historic neighborhoods start from this location as well. Group tours are especially popular and it is one of the top wedding sites in the region.
At the science center, you can explore and investigate more than 100 interactive exhibits that pique your curiosity and become immersed in an IMAX film adventure that shows the wonders of the planet—and beyond—in the Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. For young science enthusiasts, the Fleet hosts school field trips, science workshops and educational camps. For adults, we offer events like Fleet Night of Science and community events, such as Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar.
The History Center presents dynamic, engaging exhibitions highlighting what makes San Diego unique and the region’s emerging role in the 21st century. We serve as a lifelong learning center for all members of our community, providing outstanding educational programs for school children and popular programs for families and adults. The Research Library serves residents, scholars, students and researchers onsite and online. With its rich historical content, archived material and online photo gallery, our website is visited by more than 1,500 distinct visitors daily.
At 27,000 square feet, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is the world's largest accredited model railroad museum. This unique museum contains five enormous scale model layouts depicting railroads of the Southwest in O, HO, and N scales. In addition, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum features a Toy Train Gallery with an interactive Lionel layout for children and state-of-the-art theater lighting.
Mingei International Museum is currently closed for a major renovation, reopening in late 2020. For a list of offsite exhibitions, programs and activities offered by the Museum, visit mingei.org/whats-on
Dedicated to ‘art of the people’ (mingei) from all eras and cultures of the world, Mingei International Museum shares arts of daily life through dynamic, changing exhibitions of historical and contemporary folk art, craft and design.
Affectionately called San Diego’s jewel box of fine art, the Timken Museum of Art is home to the Putnam Foundation’s globally-important collection of European old masters, 19th century American art and Russian icons. The collection also includes the only Rembrandt painting on public display in San Diego. This fine museum provides visitors with an accessible and enriching cultural experience featuring a beautiful collection, intimate surroundings, perennially free admission.