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Top 5 San Diego Museums in Balboa park

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The Botanical Building graces San Diego’s Balboa Park. Photo (c) 2013 GTH & Nathan DePetris.

Bars, restaurants and night clubs rule the San Diego scene after dark. Hillcrest, our Gaybourhood, offers gay travelers the chance to let our hair down, but that doesn’t mean we have to skip the intellectual side of the city. Balboa Park, a short drive from away from the Hillcrest’s hustle and bustle, offers a slew of world-class museums for all tastes. Here is our list of the 5 must-see museums in the park.

  • Classic cars and Neon gas station signs dot the Automotive Museum,  San Diego, California. Photo (c) 2013 GTH & Nathan DePetris.

    Classic cars and Neon gas station signs dot the Automotive Museum, San Diego, California. Photo (c) 2013 GTH & Nathan DePetris.

    San Diego Museum of Art: This is the region’s oldest and largest art museum. Renowned holdings include a fine selection of European old masters, 19th and 20th century American art, a comprehensive Asian collection, and growing collections of contemporary and Latin American art. The building itself is quite impressive, often a great spectacular backdrop to photos and private events. You can rent the space for an exclusive event, or your wedding.

  • San Diego Air & Space Museum: An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum houses a collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft from all over the world.  Take a picture with a working flying replica of Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, and see inside the actual Apollo 9 Command Module spacecraft.
  • San Diego Automotive Museum: Take a nostalgic walk through this small yet impressive museum and enjoy over 80 classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. Special finds include Frank Sinatra’s 1967 Austin Petrol Hire Car and Louie Mattar’s Fabulous $75,000 Car (which deservers its own article just to describe!)
  • San Diego's Balboa Park museums are worth seeing from the outside as well as in. The Museum of Man is covered with colorful tiles that grace its dome and tower.  Photo (c) 2013 GTH & Nathan DePetris.

    San Diego’s Balboa Park museums are worth seeing from the outside as well as in. The Museum of Man is covered with colorful tiles that grace its dome and tower.
    Photo (c) 2013 GTH & Nathan DePetris.

    San Diego Museum of Man: With its Spanish colonial and mission style architecture and two hundred foot tall California Tower, the San Diego Museum of Man is the city’s only museum devoted to anthropology. Originally built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the landmark building has become one of the most photographed spots in the park, and rightly so.  This melting pot of architectural styles includes Baroque, Rococo, and Spanish colonial just to name a few; its’ colored dome and tower tiles can be seen gleaming from afar, beckoning you to come and explore.

  • Botanical Building: The view of the Botanical Building with the Lily Pond in the foreground is one of the most photographed scenes in San Diego and a “must-see” destination while visiting the park. Also built for the 1915 Expo, the historic building is one of the largest lath structures in the world. The building houses over 2,100 permanent plants, and features a fascinating collections of cycads, ferns, orchids, and a myriad tropical plants and palms. The Botanical Building also presents some of the Park’s vibrant seasonal flower displays.

 

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Two choppers hang suspended at the Air and Space Museum, giving visitors the opportunity to walk underneath and get a sense of scale.
Photo (c) 2013 GTH & Nathan DePetris.

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