Visiting Balboa Park is a must for any visitor. This 1200 acre urban cultural park is the crown jewel of San Diego and is known for its flower displays, many pathways, trees and grassy areas and museums, many of which are magnificent Spanish Colonial Revival buildings. This makes for a great day for you and your dog, as you take in the sights and sounds.
There are several places you can start your walking tour and exploration of Balboa Park with your dog.
Consider starting on the West end of the park (at 6th Avenue and Laurel Street) at the Nate’s Point Offleash Dog park, one of two major offleash areas in the park. The area is fully fenced and features lights and a water fountain. Make sure to understand and follow the rules and regulations regarding dogs in the park, which in general states that dogs must be leashed and under owner’s control at all times.
For people and their dogs looking for a little more stimulation, Balboa Park also features a series of trails perfectly suited for active dogs and their owners. You can find the information here. On the west end, there is a gateway to trails at Sixth and Upas with varying lengths of trails.
For dogs and people more interested in strolling and people watching, there are ample opportunities to do so. As you cross the iconic Cabrillo Bridge, you can continue your walk along the Prado past the tower of the Museum of Man, the Old Globe Theatre and into the pedestrian plaza as you head toward more sights. The dog friendly Visitor Center is located in the House of Hospitality (directly across from the Prado Restaurant) where you can pick up a map of the park and get the most up to date information on activities.
In addition to viewing the architecture of the buildings, there are several gardens to be enjoyed with your pup. While not allowed inside the Botanical Building itself, the forefront of the building with Lily pond is one of the most photographed sights in the park, and many have posed their dogs in this courtyard. There is also the Alcazar Garden, which lies adjacent to the Art Institute and Mingei Museum, featuring a design that is patterned after the Alcazar Castle in Spain complete with ornate fountains, and planted with 7,000 annuals every year.
As you finish your walk down the Prado, the central Fountain between the Reuben Fleet Science Center and Natural History Museum, then take a walk over the pedestrian bridge, which crosses over Park Blvd. into the Rose and Cactus Gardens. Just make sure your dog doesn’t get too close to the cactus!
There’s much more to do on the East and North side of the park and plenty of choices for nourishment in the park. Part Two of a dog’s tour through Balboa Park will highlight these.