Built in 1868 for the World Fair, Balboa Park is 1,200 acres of amazing-ness. A one of a kind landmark that San Diego is super proud to have. It’s a gigantic urban cultural park. Filled with gardens, mesmerizing Spanish style architecture, museums, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
In 2018, Balboa Park celebrated its 150th Anniversary. The Panama-California Exposition celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal in 1915 and was the first exposition that created the cultural institutions and architecture we see at the park today. The second major influence was the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition held to boost the economy during the Great Depression.
We recommend scheduling your engagement photos during the week to avoid the massive weekend crowds. Unbelievably, one time we practically had the whole park to ourselves because it was raining.
Most of the park does not require a permit for an engagement session. The Japanese Friendship Garden has a $35/hour photo session fee. You can also buy out tours for the California Tower, so we can take advantage of the beautiful architecture and incorporate it into your photographs without there being any crowds.
Typically, Balboa Park is super crowded during the weekends. If you have the right frame, you can make it look like there are no people around. It's all about the right timing. Try to choose spots that are less popular if you plan to have a first look. That way you will have less people to battle with to get a clear photograph.