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Stop to Smell the Roses in San Diego’s Balboa Park

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San Diego’s Balboa Park is overflowing with fun things to do with kids. As locals who have visited nearly all of the park’s 15 museums and who are annual members of its world-famous San Diego Zoo, one of my family’s favorite Balboa Park attractions is its Rose Garden. With approximately 2,500 roses of nearly 200 varieties, this garden is free to the public, doesn’t take all day to tackle, and makes a fun and fragrant outdoor field trip for visitors of all ages.

Sometimes family vacations are so jam-packed with activities, it’s easy to forget to slow down and savor the moment. Here’s a little pictoral tour of Balboa Park’s Rose Garden, a relaxing spot to visit on your next trip to San Diego.

Balboa Park Rose Garden in San Diego
Balboa Park Rose Garden in San Diego, California

Balboa Park Rose Garden in San Diego
My daughter, Princess Karissa, and the rose

Yellow Rose and Bee in Balboa Park Rose Garden in San Diego
Take a close look – this rose has a visitor!

Balboa Park Rose Garden in San Diego
My son, Leo, is more interested in rocks & dirt than in flowers (such a boy!)

Sheila's Perfume Rose in Balboa Park Rose Garden in San Diego
Every time we visit, Karissa and I select our favorite rose – this time the winner was this perfect Sheila’s Perfume bloom

Rose Petals in Balboa Park Rose Garden in San Diego
My daughter loves to collect (already fallen) rose petals to stuff in her pockets as a natural souvenir

After wandering through the Rose Garden, you may want to mosey through the neighboring Desert Garden, which is filled with over 1,300 cacti and succulents. Be sure to keep toddlers in strollers to avoid getting pricked! Both of these gardens are located North off the Park Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge, across from the San Diego Natural History Museum and the big fountain (for which I could not find a name). Here’s a map of Balboa Park to help you find your way.

Do you have a favorite public garden? Please leave a comment!

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. I used to go to Balboa Park every summer w/ my family when I was growing up. There was always great live music there and we almost always stopped at a frozen yogurt stand to get “swirl” cones. 🙂

  2. We’ve never been, but I know the kids would love it. Thanks for sharing the adorable pics! 🙂

  3. The only time I have been there was with you but I remember it vividly. They have a similar rose garden in Portland, OR that we visited. Love the pic of Karissa in her princess outfit. : )

  4. Love the pictures!

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