Balboa Park, home of the San Diego Zoo and the Culture Center of San Diego
Romantic Balboa Park is a lush 1,400 acre forest of exotic trees, well kept gardens, and a majestic lily pond, which is the most photographed site in the park. It is also the home of the San Diego Zoo. Here too is the renowned Old Globe Theatre and over a dozen outstanding must see museums, art galleries and one of the largest planetariums in the country. San Diegans owe a vote of gratitude to the city Board of Trustees, who in 1868 set aside 1,400 acres of rambling chaparral for Balboa Park. Were it not for the far sighted civic planners who anticipated San Diego is great potential for growth, the city would no doubt have been without its most beautiful region, Balboa Park. A must-see attraction in Balboa Park is the San Diego Zoo 5 619,234,3153. The 100 acre facility is an international animal experience where guests will see some of the earthís rarest wildlife including giant pandas from China, tree kangaroos from New Guinea and river hippos from Africa. The San Diego Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals, representing 800 species, making up a diverse collection of animals many of which are rarely seen at other zoos.
Opening summer 2003 is the first phase of the San Diego Zoo is latest exhibit project the New Heart of the Zoo. It is going to be a swinging time in the Absolutely Apes orangutan and seaming exhibit. For the first time in Zoo history, these two species of apes will live together in a lush, tropical setting resembling their native region of Indonesia. The brilliant, eye catching flamingos that have greeted Zoo guests at the front plaza for more than 50 years will also have a new lagoon.
Dozens of rare and obscure animals can be found throughout the facility alongside more familiar zoo faces polar bears, camels, lions, tigers, pygmy chimpanzees and much more. Guests to the San Diego Zoo become immersed in lush, tropical settings called bio climactic zones such as Tiger River, Gorilla Tropics, Inure Forest and Owens Rainforest Aviary. In these naturalistic habitats visitors will find an array of plants and animals native to specific regions of the world. In other areas of the Zoo, guest may come face to face with bears, elephants, koalas and more. The San Diego Zoo is also a botanical garden with a prominent collection consisting of more than 700,000 plants. Like the Zooís world class animal collection, many species of flora are rare and endangered.
The Childrenís Zoo features more than 20 exhibits designed with children in mind. Low glass windows in many exhibits create easy viewing. A petting paddock allows children to interact with friendly sheep, goats and pot bellied pigs.
The zoo, however, is only one part of Balboa Park. The rest is spread out over hundreds of acres. The part of the park that attracts the most attention is an area called El Prado. Here, nestled in beautiful gardens enhanced by majestic palm and eucalyptus trees, are most of the park is impressive museums, galleries and other attractions, all within walking distance of each other.
A great place to begin or conclude a tour of Balboa Park is at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center 11 619, 238, 1233. This large 93,505 sq. ft. science center showcases over 100 hands on, interactive exhibits and attractions that the whole family will enjoy. Plus, they offer several fantastic films on the world are first IMAXģ Dome Theater that surrounds visitors, creating a you is there experience. New to the Science Center is the Virtual Zone housing two different virtual reality attractions and the motion simulator ride, SciTours, where visitors take a voyage into outer space to intercept a comet headed towards Earth. The virtual reality experience, Smoke and Mirrors aimed at children and teens, is intended to increase their knowledge of the consequences of tobacco use. On the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. you can take a tour of the planets and stars during their planetarium shows. Five fascinating science exhibit galleries, each with a different scientific and technological theme, are popular attractions to explore. Be sure to visit Explore Zone over thirty hands-on exhibits from San Franciscoís Exploratorium located in the Main Exhibit Gallery. In addition to their exciting permanent collection, this wonderful museum presents major national travelling exhibitions several times a year.
The next major attraction on your self-guided tour should be the San Diego Natural History Museum 16 612323821. This fascinating museum features marvelous seasonal and permanent exhibits which focuses on the bi-national region of Southern California and the Baja California, Mexico peninsula. Learn the secret stories of rocks, fossils, plants and animals, such as the prehistoric saber tooth tiger that roamed this area millions of years ago. Donít miss their mustsee, award-winning film on Baja California and the Sea of Cortes called Ocean Oasis in the museum is giant-screen movie theater.
Between the Natural History Museum and the zoo is the Spanish Village Art Center 3, 619, 233, 9050, which is one of Balboa Park, is hidden treasures. This historic landmark, built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition, is the perfect place to find one of a kind works of art at reasonable prices. Here, in a charming courtyard accented with colorful flowers and majestic trees, are artists at work creating, demonstrating, and displaying their beautiful creations. Surrounding the courtyard is a collection of 37 studios, galleries and guilds presenting the works of over 300 of San Diegoís finest artists and craftsmen. Various mediums are used by the many artistic creators including blown glass, ceramics, enamel, jewelry, polymer clay, paints, pottery, sculpture, wood and more. On the Radios the Casa de Balboa. The largest operating model railroad museum in North America is on display on the lower level. The San Diego Model Railroad Museum 619.696,0199, features scaled model train exhibits, complete with bridges, tunnels and depots. Visit their new interactive Toy Train Gallery, where you can play engineer.
Also located in Casa de Balboa is the San Diego Historical Society Museum and Research Archives 14, 619, 232, 6203, The museum features temporary and traveling exhibits on the history of the San Diego region utilizing journals, photographs, clothing, artwork and historical artifacts. Signature events are scheduled throughout the year in celebration of the museum is 75th anniversary.
Also be sure to visit the newly expanded Museum of Photographic Arts 14,619 238 .7559 on the west end of the Casa de Balboa building. Featured here are twelve different shows a year that present the captivating photographic and cinematic works of art by well known and up and coming photographers world wide.
Next door to the west is the House of Hospitality, which is home to the 400 seat Prado Restaurant and Lounge 13 619 557 9441 . Their unique menu and charming setting make it a great place to dine. Most popular is their beautiful terrace and fountain garden, which is one of San Diegoís favorite wedding locations. They
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