October 8, 2012

31 Trips in Cali, Day 8: Balboa Park

At the end of yesterday's post, my teaser said that on Day 8 I'd take you to a place that my family visits a couple of times each year. That's not quite true.  Looking through my photo archives, it seems there have been years when we've visited Balboa Park only once. This year, we've already been twice.

But my point is that in the eight years we've lived in this town, which is just shy of an hour northeast of Balboa Park, we've enjoyed the benefits of this great public space multiple times. We are semi-frequent visitors, considering that we don't live in San Diego.
As a brief introduction: Balboa Park is a great big, beautiful park set on 15,000 acres in the midst of the city of San Diego. Let's just quote the park's website: Its "the nation's largest urban cultural park. Home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo, the Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, and classes—all in the beautiful and timeless setting of this must-see San Diego attraction."
 My first memory of Balboa Park is as a child, when I visited with my aunt and uncle.  My uncle, an aficionado and collector of model trains, took us to the San Diego Model Railroad Musuem. According the the website: "At 28,000 square feet, the museum is the world's largest operating model railroad museum." All I knew at the time is that it was just plain fun to watch all those trains, traversing the meticulously detailed miniature hillsides, canyons, and small towns. 

When my children were quite small, we took them to the Model Railroad Museum, where they had a great time watching the trains and pushing buttons.  The Husband and I were just agreeing last week that it's high time we visited again.
Over the last several years, we've visited many of the museums on the grounds: the Automotive museum (where Tucker stood in front of a Tucker automobile), the Air & Space Museum, the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center (an interactive, hands-on kids musuem) and earlier this year we returned to the Natural History Museum to take in the Titanic exhibit with our resident Titanic expert.
And those are just the museums. On a typical weekend, you're likely to encounter street musicians, magicians, a parrot show, and a constant stream of great people watching, courtesy of tourists and locals alike. 
The Spreckels Organ Pavillion
Thinking about my relatively close proximity to this special place makes me really appreciate living here in Southern California. Kinda takes the sting out of paying nearly $5.00 a gallon for the gas it takes to get around. (Kinda.)

Thanks for coming along! Come back tomorrow a few hours from now for Day 9 of my 31 Trips in California series, when we'll visit a place that's either really cool or really disgusting. Or both.

Don't miss a single trip -- Follow along and Like me on Facebook. (Where I sometimes post photographic excuses for some of these terribly late posts.)

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