An Insider’s View on Things to do in July in Balboa Park

Girls with Hula Hoops at Food Truck Friday in San Diego's Balboa Park

July is all about sizzling celebrations, and Balboa Park delivers the heat with a heavy dose of cool culture thrown into the mix. Friday nights continue to be a can’t-miss way to enjoy the park as food trucks take over the El Prado and many of the most popular museums offer extended hours. But fun in Balboa Park isn’t exclusive to Fridays. Every day is an explorer’s paradise with provocative new exhibits, top-notch theater productions, sumptuous soirees and more.

Food Truck Fridays

When: July 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2019
Where: El Prado
Looking for a fun and movable feast? Then Balboa Park is the destination. Every Friday in July, a fleet of food trucks will roll into the park at 4 p.m. to provide a wide range of gastronomic options from appetizers to desserts to everything in between. To spice up the night, DJs and musicians will be on hand in the Plaza de Panama throughout the summer. Of course, after filling your belly, it’ll be time to feed your mind by visiting the museums such as the San Diego Natural History Museum, the Fleet Science Center, the Museum of Photographic Arts and the San Diego History Center with extended summer hours, which runs through Aug. 30.

History Happy Hour

When: July 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2019
Where: San Diego History Center
Need some libations to wash down your food truck feast? Then head on over to the San Diego History Center on Friday nights where you can grab a beer, a glass of wine or, for the under-21 set, a soda. But don’t just drink and dash. The History Center has a wide variety of engaging examinations of San Diego’s rich history, including its popular LGBTQ+ exhibit that shows how the local community faced and fought persecution and intolerance over the years to gain not only acceptance but also influence. The San Diego History Center, a Smithsonian affiliate, has a Give Forward admissions policy, which allows visitors to pay only what they can, making the exhibit and the museum accessible to anyone.

Tanabata Festival

When: July 7
Where: Japanese Friendship Garden
If you feel like star-crossed lovers get short shrift when it comes to celebrations, then the Japanese Friendship Garden has just the festival for you. Originating from Chinese Folklore, the Tanbata Fesitval was adopted in Japan to celebrate the meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi, two deities that due to the fates can only meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. But while the back story might seem like a bummer, the festivities the are anything but. Revelers can enjoy the summer sun by indulging in festival foods, carnival games, cultural performances and crafts, including creating a tanzaku, which is where you write a wish to be granted. The event runs from noon to 6:00 PM.

The Tale of Despereux

When: July 16 – August 11, 2019
Where: The Old Globe
Think ratatouille, minus the kitchen, add a princess and conquest for eternal love. This charming story follows a heroic mouse on a quest to rescue a beautiful human princess while battling various obstacles along the way. Full of gorgeous music, stunning stage effects, witty performances and a message of optimism and community, The Tale of Despereaux is an inspiring and beguiling story for all ages. Tickets for this uplifting story start at $35.

The Gathering

When: July 17, 2019
Where: Comic-Con Museum
Gotham City will come to life at the Comic-Con Museum’s inaugural fundraiser celebrating Batman’s 80th birthday. Join the fandom for a night of special previews, three floors of activated displays, fashion, technology, music, live entertainment and of course, themed food and drink. Not that you needed more of a reason to partake, but a special ceremony is to be expected to honor the one and only crime-fighter—Batman. The party doesn’t end there, join Comic-Con Museum for their Batman themed after party where food stations, lively entertainment and signature cocktails will be flowing. Get the scoop on this unique fandom experience here.

National Carousel Day

When: July 25, 2019
Where: 1889 Zoo Place, San Diego, CA 92101
What goes around comes around, which means it is time again for National Carousel Day. And you couldn’t pick a nicer or more historic carousel than the one in Balboa Park to celebrate its invention. All but two pairs of the carousel’s menagerie of animals are the original European hand-carved creations. It is also one of the few carousels in the world that still offers the brass ring game. The Friends of Balboa Park, which has taken over the maintenance and operation of the historic carousel, is offering free carousel rides, music, food and face painting from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You’ll definitely want to give it a whirl.

Culture & Cocktails: Angels and Saints

When: July 25, 2019
Where: San Diego Museum of Art
The San Diego Museum of Art’s signature event (Culture & Cocktails) is back, celebrating their newest exhibit Art & Empire: The Golden Age of Spain with an angel and saint theme. Spend the evening sipping on the Archangel—the event’s signature cocktail—listening to the angelic canticles by SACRA/PROFANA and tantalizing your taste-buds with Spanish paella. Sum up your evening with a heavenly picture of you and your choir of friends in the Living Angel Wings photo booth.  Tickets start are $25.

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