Belmont Park#19 in Best Things To Do in San Diego
A trip to San Diego is not complete without a visit to beachfront amusement park and boardwalk Belmont Park. The park, which has been in operation since 1925, offers something for everyone. Those looking for a thrill can ride the iconic Giant Dipper Roller Coaster and the spinning Beach Blaster while those who prefer something more calm can enjoy the carousel, go mini-golfing or the hit the arcade. Additional activities and attractions include rock climbing, bumper cars, zip lining and laser tag. Despite the park's busy location, previous visitors were pleased that the lines were usually short. However, they advise going in the morning or evening to minimize wait times regardless. Belmont Park also features a range of shops, from Sun Diego (which sells activewear plus surfing and skateboarding clothing) to a bike and beach equipment rental shop. Visitors also enjoy The Plunge at Fit, the park's indoor pool with beach views. It was originally built in 1925 but is now updated and housed inside a fitness center.
When travelers get hungry, Belmont Park serves snacks with a Southern California twist including hot dogs on sticks and grab-and-go tacos, perfect for anyone who wants a quick bite before returning to the rides. The park is also home to a handful of upscale restaurants, including seafood and sushi spot Cannonball, which offers one of the city's largest rooftops and overlooks Mission Beach.
Admission to the park is free, but visitors pay for rides and games as they go. If you purchase online, unlimited ride passes cost $31 for adults and $21 for kids under 48 inches. Unlimited ride and game adult passes are $53 and youth passes are $43; these provide access to games such as mini-golf and laser tag. Many say the park can be pricey, but the unlimited and combo passes are a good deal.
Previous visitors advise staying about four hours to make the most out of your money. Free parking is available in surrounding lots, and the attraction offers a Fast Park valet service. Belmont Park is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with extended hours until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Explore the official website to see the fun offerings the park has in store.
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#1 Balboa Park
Home to the renowned San Diego Zoo. this 1,200-acre park is the city's cultural hub. Located in downtown San Diego (about 2 miles north of the city center), Balboa Park is a great place for a stroll, bike ride or picnic. Wander around the park's many gardens while admiring the intricate Spanish-Renaissance architecture that permeates the grounds (the best examples are the California Building and the House of Hospitality). The Botanical Building is a great starting point in Balboa Park. The building is one of the most photographed places in Balboa Park and is one of the largest lath structures in the world. But don't just look at it. The famous botanical building features more than 2,100 permanent plants, including striking collections of tropical plants and orchids. The park also features a cactus garden, rose garden, a Japanese-style garden as well as a palm tree canyon, among many others.
But if you find yourself growing antsy just walking around and smelling the roses, there are plenty of attractions located here (many of them free). Take in a show at the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theatre, visit the Spreckels Organ Pavilion to see one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, or the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater if you got the kiddos in tow. Museums are just as aplenty, with enough to suit all types of interests. Art lovers will enjoy the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts and Mingei International Museum while science enthusiasts will enjoy the Fleet Science Center and the Museum of Man. If you're traveling as a family, take some time to check out the San Diego Air and Space Museum or the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the world's largest operating model railroad museum. There's also an automotive museum and the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, dedicated entirely to San Diego's sports history.
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