The Prado comprises more than a dozen buildings inside Balboa Park, including the multiple-arched Cabrillo Bridge that leads into the park. Other attractions of interest include the Japanese Friendship Garden, Alcazar Garden, Natural History Museum, Museum of Art, Museum of Man, the Fleet Science Center, and the often photographed Botanical Building with its reflecting pool. The area, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is often included on sightseeing tours of San Diego, including walking tours that show off the highlights of Balboa Park.
Things to know before you go
- The museums and gardens within El Prado make it an excellent stop for history buffs and families.
- Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as the complex is quite large and best explored on foot.
- Bring your camera along, as El Prado has some of Balboa Park’s most recognizable landmarks.
How to get there
El Prado is located in the heart of Balboa Park in downtown San Diego, just off Interstate 5. Parking is available by the visitor center to the East of Highway 163. Bus routes #120, #7, and Rapid 215 all pass through Balboa Park.
When to get there
With warm weather throughout the year, every season is a good season to explore the attractions in Balboa Park, including El Prado. To make the most of your experience, try to visit when the site is hosting an outdoor concert. To avoid crowds (and have better luck finding a parking space) stick to weekday mornings.
Other Attractions in Balboa Park
Balboa Park is sometimes called the “Smithsonian of the West” for its collection of museums (17 in total) and gardens, including El Prado. See the park from 200 feet (60 meters) in the air by climbing to the top of the California Tower inside the Museum of Man, travel the world without leaving the city with a visit to the 34 International Cottages, marvel at the works of Rembrandt in the Timken Museum, or take a hike along Palm Canyon Trail.
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- San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA)
- Mingei International Museum
- Museum of Photographic Arts
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum (SDMRM)
- Old Globe Theater
- San Diego Museum of Man (SDMM)
- San Diego History Center
- Japanese Friendship Garden
- Spreckels Organ Pavilion
- Balboa Park
- San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)
- Fleet Science Center
- Spanish Village Art Center
- San Diego Zoo
- Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden