Back in July of 2014, I got to spend a week in San Diego. A fellow Long Beach student got a free week long pass to attend the ESRI User Conference (UC). ESRI UC is held every summer, typically in June or July and at the San Diego Convention Center. This is the biggest conference for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professionals hosting numerous presentations and vendor displays, all discussing the latest and greatest in GIS. While I was not able to attend the conference because I didn’t have a pass, I was able to explore San Diego. I did get to see some of the conference later, thanks to the Family Night event they had.
My first day in San Diego was mostly spent in the hotel room. I was rather tired from the journey there. The drive was about two hours, but since I had to wake up early that day and I’m an anti-morning person, I really had no energy to go out. The next day though I was ready to take San Diego by storm.
On Tuesday, I grabbed my stuff and headed for Balboa Park. This park is filled with museums! You could probably spend an entire week just visiting all the museums located within this one place. Before leaving for this trip, I had spent a few days researching where I wanted to go and more importantly, how to get there.
The main reason I was able to have these solo adventures was because of San Diego’s good public transportation system called the Metropolitan Transit System. Like the Los Angeles Metro system, they have tap cards but they are called Compass Cards. Luckily my hotel was just across the street from the Old Town station, making it easy to travel about. The train line goes directly to the convention center. To get to Balboa Park though it takes a little transferring. I had to take the Green Line to Santa Fe Depot and then switch to the Orange Line and get off at City College. From there I walked to the bus stop on Park Blvd. You want to catch the bus going north on this street, usually bus route 7. Sometimes the City College station will have a MTS employee present and you can ask them for directions to the bus stop if you get turned around. If you want to go the the main park area, get off at Park Pl and Village Pl. If you want to go to the zoo get off at the next stop, which is Park Pl and Zoo Pl.
Balboa Park has 17 museums, 19 gardens, nine performing arts centers, nine other attractions including the San Diego Zoo next door and 13 recreations areas. With so many places to visit and only a few days, I had to be very selective of where I wanted to go. The park offers several different passes, such as one day and multi-day. I got the multi-day pass with one day zoo admission. I purchased my pass at the visitor center inside the park but you can buy them online as well.
After purchasing my pass, I headed to the Japanese Friendship Garden, which was right next to the visitor center. Having lived in Japan, I have seen quite a few traditional style gardens. There is even a small one at my university. The one at Balboa Park though had its own unique style and was quite large. The garden featured beautiful Koi (Carp fish), several small waterfalls, numerous traditional structures, bonsai trees, relaxing trails, and traditional Japanese artwork. Several areas were under construction when I was there, but they are probably completed by now and I bet the garden looks even more amazing. This is definitely the place to go if you want to relax for an hour or so. They even have special events and classes there.
My next stop was the San Diego History Center. At the time of my visit, the main exhibit was “Presidio to Pacific Powerhouse: How the Military Shaped San Diego“. This exhibit featured information and items from both air force and naval military equipment. It was first a presidio, a Spanish fort for guarding against countries like England and Russia. Later it became a training ground for the US military and still has strong ties with the navy.
Next up was the Museum of Photographic Arts. If I remember correctly, this museum was next door to the History Center. This museum focuses on photography buy also had video and film collections. It has over 7,000 images and mainly displays modern and contemporary photos, such as from social documentary and photojournalism. At the time of my visit, the exhibits featured work from Ansel Adams and also various topics, such as Aperture Remix, 19th century art, Czech photography and the annual youth exhibit. You can view them under 2014 Exhibitions. Unfortunately I was not able to take photos within this museum, so this is one you’ll have to visit to see.
After that most places were closed already, so I decided to just wander around the park and take some photos of the beauty of it.
I’ll have my adventures from Day Three in part two of this post.