Balboa Park & La Jolla

Sometimes we look for travel ideas on Pinterest, since it is a great source for interesting attractions, good food, nice architecture and picturesque locations. San Diego was no exception. We had seen a few nice pictures also of Balboa Park and decided we needed to visit. We did not have time to do much more research on the area, so our expectation was to see something quite small.

Oh how wrong we were!

Turns out Balboa Park has over 15 museums, art centers, and even a zoo to visit. We felt a bit silly to have been so ignorant of how great the area actually was. We had been wondering in downtown where all the culture was, but in Balboa Park it was quite obvious. Everything nicely together, and visiting all would have required more time than we had reserve. One day was just not going to cut it.

On our way we also first stumbled upon an old 1910 carousel. All but two pairs of the animals are original, so with just a few bucks, we could not resist hopping on for a ride.



A short walk from the carousel was Spanish Village Art Center. We had seen pictures of this on Pinterest and the area was cute-as-a-button even in real life. Colourful tiles, colourful art and charming studios for local artists.


Mr. Mad Hatter



Then it was time for all the greatness of Balboa Park to really be revealed to us.






The park was built mostly for Panama-California Exposition in 1915-1916, although the park has gotten new additions over the decades. We really enjoyed our visit to the park, since it is beautiful to look at and offers a lot of museums to visit. Too bad we had not done our research and missed out on those.





We did another day trip as well. On our last full day in San Diego we took a bus (well, three buses) to visit La Jolla. It is a very popular tourist destination with its shopping street, beaches and sea lion population. All the more high end shopping was here instead of downtown San Diego, and the whole area had a much more polished look and feel to it.


Did not take pictures of the more polished shopping street, but there is always time for food pictures

The sea lions were quite awesome. They were spread all around to the rocks, that were actually artificially created to attract sea lions and seals.



A little beach cove was filled with swimmers – both humans and sea lions. It was fun to watch the sea lions swim in high numbers next to the swimmers. We were poorly equipped and did not have our swimwear with us, so we had to skip this activity. However it must be admitted that the pictures don’t tell everything: there is quite a strong odour in the air due to the sea lion population. Let’s just say you have to be careful where you step.



It looked like the animals and humans were living in peaceful co-existence, or so I thought at the time. The amount of kayaking tours to see the animals and nearby caves felt a bit ridiculous though.


From La Jolla Cove we took a bus up north to San Diego University campus, since Matte really wanted to see a library building located there. And I must admit, it was quite a sight. I could not help but think how much it looked like an alien mother ship from outer space, landed in the middle of the campus. But that just might be a result of too much X-Files binge watching when I was younger.

Geisel Library by William L. Pereira


Not only the library was on the must-visit list for him, but we also tried visiting the Salk Institute for Biological Studies which was nearby. However due to “ridiculous early closure times” (thinks Matte) we were not able to walk on-site. So I followed Matte in all his frustration walking around the campus trying to find a way in. Eventually he did, even though that included climbing a wall and being told off by the security guard. Matte explained: “Git wouldn’t give up this easily either!” He has been travelling around too much with architects by his side.

Salk Institute for Biological Studies by Louis Kahn



He had also planned a visit to the San Diego California Temple, which is a massive and quite impressive Mormon Church (Mormonism is the fastest growing religion here in the USA) near the campus. But after a 6-hour hike we decided not to and head back to our San Diego glamping experience. It was about time anyway, since spending all that time in a uni campus made me miss studying. I think me from about 5 years ago would be shocked to hear that.

I know I told on the last post that Matte would be the one to write this one, but when inspiration hits there is no stopping it. In reality I was just supposed to write a few sentences for Matte and let him finish, but here we are, over 800 words later. I just can’t seem to help myself.

Cactus smiley face

Anyhow, in conclusion of San Diego: definitely worth a visit. It is a charming city with some history behind it and tons of culture to visit. But in order to see everything that is there is in a few days span, having a car would be very helpful. Like typical for US cities, they are have spread out to a wide area and public transportation is not an easy way of transportation.



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