Take a peek below for the latest news, information, and tips for your next visit to San Diego’s cultural gem – straight from the Balboa Park Explorer Team.

December 2019 


Centro Cultural de la Raza

  • Chicano Art Exhibit | Now through 12/18/19

Fleet Science Center

  • Don’t Try This at Home | Now through 12/31/19
  • Pause|Play | Now through 01/05/2020
  • Pulseworks® VR Transporter | Now through 09/30/2019
  • Winter ParadIce| Now through 01/26/2020

Japanese Friendship Garden

  • Washi: Maki Ishiwata| Now through 01/26/2020

Mingei International Museum

*Currently closed for renovation.

Museum of Photographic Arts

  • Hidden Worlds| Now through 1/12/2020
  • Talking With A Friend: Portraits by Bern Schwartz | Now through 1/19/2020
  • Dreamscapes: 14th Annual Juried Youth Exhibition | Now through 03/01/2020
  • The Stories They Tell: A Hundred Years of Photography | Now through 02/17/2020
  • Illusion: The Magi of Motion | Opening 01/18/2020

San Diego Air and Space Museum

  • SPACE: Our Greatest Adventure | Ongoing

San Diego Art Institute

  • Wonderspces VR Showcase | Now through 12/30/2019

San Diego Automotive Museum

  • Lowriders: The Art of Low and Slow | Now through 02/01/202020

San Diego History Center

  • Welcome to the Mix: Each of Us Has a Story | Now through 1/19/2020
  • LGBTQ+ San Diego: Stories of Struggles and Triumph | Now through 1/2/2020
  • I’m Not Like You: Notes From The San Diego Underground – Now through 03/22//2020
  • The Path of the Mystic: Art and Theosophy at Lomaland – Now through 04/19/2020

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

  • Living the Impossible | Now through 11/16/2019
  • The Cabrillo & Southwestern| Ongoing
  • The San Diego & Arizona Eastern| Ongoing
  • The Centennial Railway Garden| Ongoing
  • The Toy Train Gallery| Ongoing

The San Diego Museum of Art

  • Nick Roth: Fates | Opening November 30th, 2019

  • Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California | Now through 12/01/2019
  • Abstract Revolution | Now through 2/23/2020
  • American Still Life Moderns | Now through 02/16/2020
  • Bouguereau and America| Now through 02/16/2020

San Diego Museum of Man

  • Living with Animals | Ongoing
  • Monsters! | Ongoing
  • PostSecret | Ongoing
  • Cannibals: Myth & Reality | Ongoing

For more exhibits on view click here.

San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)

  • The Cerutti Mastodon Discovery | Now through 12/31/2019
  • Hidden Gems | Ongoing
  • The Backyard | Ongoing
  • Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage | Ongoing
  • Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science  | Ongoing
  • Insects to Face | Opening 11/09/2019
  • Living Lab | Opening 11/23/2019

For more exhibits on view click here

Timken Museum of Art

  • Masterpieces of Italian Drawings from The British Museum | Now through 12/15/2019

The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park

  • Veterans Who Became Presidents | Ongoing

WorldBeat Cultural Center

  • Afrofuturism | Ongoing


San Diego Art Institute

Wonderspaces VR Showcase

Now through December 30th

Mon.-Fri. 4 pm-10 pm | Sat.-Sun. 10 am-10 pm

Wonderspaces VR Showcase offers visitors a one of a kind opportunity to experience four extraordinary virtual reality short films – previously seen at festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, and SXSW – during the course of a one-hour visit.

Information and ticket purchases, click here.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Holiday Program

December 15th  | 6 pm – 7 pm

Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez joins singers from the San Diego Opera and members of the Navy Band Southwest Wind Ensemble in a Holiday Program sponsored by the Spreckels Organ Society.


Fleet Science Center

Winter ParadIce

Opening 11/23/2019

Trade-in your flip-flops for lace-up skates and take a glide session on our new synthetic ice rink (you know, because it’s science). When you’re done skating, continue the fun by jumping in the ball pit or sliding down a 31-foot slide in the Fleet’s adult-sized playground exhibition, Pause|Play. Get crafty with ornament making in Studio X, create your own ice cream flavor in the cafe and immerse yourself in our interactive galleries.

Gather your family and friends, as you don’t want to miss out on this festive adventure.

Please note: Explorer Passholders can add skating and one film showing for only $9.95.

Late Nights at the Fleet

The Fleet will be open late on select Saturdays and Sundays, beginning November 23 through December 29, with discounted pricing from 5–9 p.m., so you can celebrate with evening skate sessions, sip cocktails rink side and let your imagination run wild in our interactive exhibitions. Please note: The ice rink will not be open December 6 & 7, during December Nights.

San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)

Family Days at the Nat 

Now through May 2020

Come and enjoy monthly Family Days at The Nat as they celebrate the natural world and the Natural History Museum. Each month has been uniquely themed to allow visitors to explore nature’s wonders, participate in hands-on activities, and create crafts to take home. Family Days run from 11am to 3pm and free for Explorer Passholders! For upcoming dates, click here.

ASD Mornings

The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community program is offered early mornings at 9 am once-a-month for adults and children on the autism spectrum and their families, friends, and caregivers. For upcoming dates, click here.

Cayoneer Hikes

Now through June 2020

Explorer the region’s trails like no other alongside citizen scientists and volunteers trained by the Natural History Museum scientists and local experts!  Enjoy history, nature, wildlife and the making of new friends. Best of all, these guided nature hikes

Click here for details and upcoming hikes.

Senior Mondays
First Monday of the month, 10:30 am

The first Monday of every month, seniors 65 and better can enjoy the Science Center exhibits, a show in the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater and a lecture on the quietest day of the month! Sharp Minds lectures begin at 10:30 am at the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. Included with general admission for Explorer Passholders.

For more details and upcoming dates click here.

Take the latest exhibits and events on the go!

For a downloadable guide click here!  


Your Guide for Thanksgiving Day at Balboa Park!

Thanksgiving is such a special holiday. This day is a chance for families to gather, to be thankful, enjoy being with one another and to create memories. There’s no place like home during the holidays but if you are looking to step outside before or after the... read more...

Best Places to Grab a Bite or a Drink in the Park

Take a look below at our Explorer staff picks on some of the best spots for coffee, meals, and small bites in Balboa Park: The Flying Squirrel at The Natural History Museum  This cafe offers everything from espresso drinks from local roaster James Coffee Co., wine and... read more...

Balboa Park’s Most Beautiful Gardens

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... read more...


December Nights

Friday, December 6th, 2019

3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

Noon to 11 p.m.

Are You Ready? The countdown has begun for the City of San Diego’s 42nd annual free holiday festival. December Nights will kick off the holiday season this Dec. 6 and 7, 2019, and feature light displays; inspirational choirs, bands, and dancers; amazing food and fun-filled attractions.  For more details on transportation/parking, entertainment, museums, food and more click here!

December Nights Advisory: Many museums in the Park will have limited daytime hours on Friday, December 6, and Saturday, December 7, in preparation for December Nights. Click here for December Nights hours. 









Dr.Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

Now through December 29, 2019

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a wonderful, whimsical musical based on the classic Dr. Seuss book. Back for its 22nd incredible year, the family favorite features the songs “This Time of Year,” “Santa for a Day,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and “Fah Who Doraze,” the delightful carol from the popular animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Celebrate the holidays as the Old Globe Theatre is once again transformed into snow-covered Whoville, right down to the last can of Who-hash.

Opening 12/11/2019

Take an extraordinary journey to the magical Land of the Sweets with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince at the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Witness an epic battle between toy soldiers and mice before being whisked away to an enchanting land of falling snow, waltzing flowers, and the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy!

Directed by Artistic Director Danika Pramik-Holdaway and set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, this classic holiday production is a beloved San Diego family tradition presented at the iconic Casa del Prado Theater.

San Diego Junior Theatre

Twelfth Night
1/10/2020 through 1/19/2020

Twelfth Night gives us one of Shakespeare’s most remarkable heroines, the quick-witted Viola, who assumes the disguise of a page boy for Duke Orsino and finds herself at the center of an explosive love triangle in which identity, passion, and gender all threaten to come undone.

Recommended for ages 13 and older.

ASL-Interpreted performanceASL-Interpreted performance, 2 pm, Saturday, January 18, 2020.

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

Winter Showtimes
Wednesday – Friday | 10 and 11:30 am
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays | 11 am, 1 pm & 2:30 pm

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Sunday Concerts are held at 2pm (for one hour). All concerts are free and open to the public. Please note that seating is outdoors in the Organ Pavilion.

Music-loving pets are welcome, and so are picnics!

House of Public Relations

Saturday and Sunday Lawn programs

Now through December 2019

Each Saturday and Sunday from 2 pm to 3 pm, member houses of the House of Pacific Relations feature music, dance, arts, crafts, and ethnic foods. Check the Lawn Program calendar here.

Please Note: Special exhibitions and film costs are determined by each individual museum. Before visiting a museum, please contact them or check the websites for information on hours of operation, closures, additional events, special exhibitions, and film costs.


Fleet Science Center

IMAX* Films and Digital Shows

  • Turtle Odyssey | Daily | 11 am, 1 pm, 4 pm
  • Superpower Dogs | Daily | 2 pm, 6 pm
  • CUBA: Journey to the Heart of the Caribbean | Daily | 12 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm

*IMAX is available at a special price of $9.95 for Annual Explorer passholders.

San Diego Air and Space Museum

Zable Theater

Daily | 10 am – 4 pm

  • Legend of Apollo
  • Flying Around the World
  • Delta Zero

Films at the Zable Theater are included with paid admission and also with Explorer Passes.

San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)

Giant-Screen films:

  • Ocean Oasis 2D | Daily | 2:30 pm
  • Hidden Pacific 3D | Daily | 11 am, 1:45 pm and 4:15 pm through 2/16/2020
  • Conquest of the Skies 3D | Daily | 1 pm and 3:30 pm through 1/6/2020

Films in the giant-screen theater are included with paid admission and also with Explorer Passes.

San Diego History Center

  • Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego | Daily | 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, & 4 pm

The film is included with donation-based admission and also with Explorer Passes.