Road Trip Feb 2015 – London – Los Angles/Orange County – San Diego – Palm Springs – Las Vegas
Thursday (day 8) – Today we spent a leisurely morning walking around Balboa Park taking in the architecture and various gardens. When you’re in the park it’s hard to imagine that somewhere so vast and green is right in the centre of the city. Entry to the park itself and parking is free. It does get busy early so you may need to park further away and ride the free tram in. Some of the museums are chargeable at varying rates per museum or buy a group pass for multiple entry either online or from the Visitors Centre. Most of the numerous gardens (including Palm Canyon, Botanical Building, the Sculpture garden and my favourites the cactus gardens) are free. There is a charge to get into the Japanese Friendship Garden, which is truly outstanding and well worth paying for, but you can get reduced entry by picking up on of the free San Diego magazines in town or again from the Visitors Centre. (In fact this magazine will give you other discounts too.) This garden was undergoing a vast regeneration and extension when we were there so we are looking forward to going back and seeing it finished complete with Japanese Tea House and waterfalls. If you’re hoping to see something in particular during your visit, check the website before going as certain attractions are closed one day a week. Balboa Park is also home to many other arts, sports and cultural attractions as well as the San Diego Zoo.
We drove in to the Gaslamp district of San Diego for a late lunch, eating at All-Stars Sports bar on the corner of Fifth and Island Avenues. We have eaten here on a couple of occasions and had tasty and plentiful meals, served inside and outside. The Gaslamp Quarter is steeped in history and well worth a visit just to look at the Victorian buildings which give the feeling of being in a movie set. It has been transformed into a lively area with shops, galleries, museums, restaurants, bars, and clubs thus providing plenty to do both day and night. Lots of the streets are one way so be aware if you’re driving through the city, parking is plentiful but there are restrictions on the meters so if you’re going for a long time it’s probably easier and most cost effective to park in one of the all day parking lots that charge a flat fee.