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Balboa Park, a 1200 acres area of landscaped gardens, is located in downtown San Diego. It is home to no less than 16 museums, which cover a wide spectrum of interest, ranging from arts, photography, science, sport, history to air & space, mankind and automotive. If this is not enough to keep visitors entertained, there are also theatre shows which feature about everything, from classic ballet, drama to puppet theatre. A vintage carousel and the miniature railway will keep the little visitor amused until the next show - or a visit to the zoo, which is located right next to the park. The gardens feature 16 differently themes horticultural exhibitions and visitors can choose between a Cactus Garden, Alcazar Garden , Desert Garden, Ethnobotany Garden and more. For recreation seeking visitors the Activity Centre offers a 38000-square foot gymnasium, there is a Golf Complex, Tennis Club, Senior Lounge, Hiking and Biking Trails, Lawn Bowling, Playgrounds and Picnic areas. For those who want something a little bit more substantial after all these activities, Balboa Park offers a choice of 10 cafes and restaurant and there are also snack-karts all over the park for a quick bite in between. The Visitor Centre does not only offer helpful information for the visitor, but is also home to a gift shop, whereas arts and crafts are being sold in some of the museums in the park. Admission to the park and gardens is free, fees for the museums will vary by institution.
The Japanese Friendship Garden is named "San-Kei-En", in honour of the garden in Yokohama with the same name. San-Kei-En means "three Scene Garden" -- Water, Pastoral and Mountain, and the park has been created to represent the ties between the two cities. The garden has been designed according to the original principles of the Japanese garden, whilst incorporating the natural landscape and scenery of the area. It has its origins in a Japanese teahouse that had been build for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and nowadays stretches over 2 acres as a part of Balboa Park. By the time the expansion of the park is finished it will cover 9 acres. The park offers walking trails, koi ponds, waterfalls and lily ponds, a cherry tree grove, viewing pavilion and teahouse. An outdoor amphitheater is under construction and there is also an exhibition house with changing exhibitions. The park is wheelchair accessible and offers restrooms and baby changing facilities. Opening times : Winter Tuesday - Sunday: 10am-4pm Summer Monday - Friday: 10am-5pm Saturday - Sunday: 10am-4pm Children under 6 go free.
The Museum of Air and Space is dedicated to aviation and space flight history. Starting from a model of the Montgolfiers first hot air balloon in history, it will lead the visitor through a collection that will cover every aspect and development of aviation up to space age technology. In the hall of fame visitors have the chance to meet everybody who ever has substantially contributed to this science, including Charles Lindbergh, Gagarin and Armstrong. All in all the exhibition is divided into 11 different themes, which covers private, commercial and military aircraft and heroes, as well as spacecraft . Simulator rides of a F-22 Raptor put the visitor in charge of the cockpit with the ability to do a full 360 degree barrel roll and to fire weapons. The museum holds special events for visitors of all ages and birthday parties for children can be arranged. The museum is widely accessible for disabled visitors. Opening times : Daily from 10am-4.30 pm, during summer until 5.30 Closed:Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day
The San Diego Opera, founded in 1965, is located in the Civic Centre in Downtown San Diego and offers seating for 3000 visitors. It has been named as one of the top 10 opera companies in the US by Opera America and director Ian Campbell is leading director of the house. It offers a five month season each year with changing programmes. This year's productions range from Boris Godunov to Wozzek and the company has lined up internationally renowned artists to perform. The programme for the new seasons is published in May, with ticket sales starting in December. Backstage tours and pre-opera lectures are also provided.