Balboa Park’s Most Beautiful Gardens

The Botanical Building and Lily Pond, together, are one of the most captivating landmarks in Balboa Park.

Located in the front of the Botanical Building, you will find the charming Lily Pond. Featuring beautiful fully-bloomed water lilies and lotus flowers and breathtaking reflections in its water.

Standing tall and over 100 years old, the Botanical Building is one of the most recognizable landmarks in San Diego. To this day, it houses more than 2,100 varieties of plants, including fascinating collections of cycads, lush green ferns, vivid orchids, palms, and a wonderful scratch-and-sniff garden!

The Botanical Building offers free admission, but be sure to plan your visit right: It’s open every day of the week from 10 am to 4 pm, except Thursdays.

Balboa Park has many lovely gardens that are always free to explore: Check out some awesome succulents along with cacti at the California Native Plant GardenOld Cactus Garden, and the Desert Garden. In spring, the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden becomes the most fragrant garden in the park, with more than 1,600 blooming flora!


The Alcazar Garden features some of the most beautiful flower beds along with mosaic turquoise fountains. And did you know, there is an Australian Garden located in Gold Gulch Canyon! The garden features native Australian plants that grow well in San Diego because of our similar climates.

Tucked in a small canyon near the Fleet Science Center, you will find the home to a number of butterfly species at The Zoro Garden surrounded by majestic ficus trees. Since 2007, Friends of Balboa Park has hosted the Annual Butterfly Release in Zoro Gardenin which hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies are released with the help of children, families, and friends.

The EthnoBotany Children’s Peace Gardens, located at the WorldBeat Center, is dedicated to teaching young people about the role of plants in society and it is also the first sustainable and edible Garden in Balboa Park.

The Japanese Friendship Garden is the only garden in the park with an admission fee (always free for Explorers!) and it is a place you are sure to enjoy! This beautiful garden was designed by renowned landscape architect Takeo Uesugi. There is a grove of nearly 200 cherry tree grove, koi ponds, large azalea, a selection of bonsais and camellia garden along with Sukia Style structures.


Which gardens are your favorite? Let us know! And be sure to share your memories with us on our Explorer Instagram & Explorer Facebook!

Happy Exploring!

By Zia Sinclair Hance |  Balboa Park Explorer  |