Navigating Parking Balboa Park: Tips and Tricks for Visitors

Parking Balboa Park

If you're planning a visit to San Diego's Balboa Park, you're in for a treat. The park is home to numerous attractions, including museums, gardens, and performance venues. However, one thing that can be a challenge for visitors is navigating the parking situation. In this article, we'll provide you with some tips and tricks for parking at Balboa Park.

Understanding the Parking Situation

Balboa Park has several parking lots scattered throughout the park, with a total of over 3,800 parking spaces available. However, these spaces can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist season. Additionally, some parking lots have restricted hours or are reserved for certain events.

Arrive Early or Late

To increase your chances of finding a parking spot, it's recommended that you arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Many visitors tend to arrive in the middle of the day, so if you can plan your visit outside of these peak hours, you'll have a better chance of finding a spot.

Utilize Street Parking

Parking at Balboa Park

In addition to the parking lots, there is also street parking available in and around Balboa Park. However, be sure to pay attention to any parking signs, as some areas have time restrictions or permit requirements.

Consider Public Transportation

If you're staying in the downtown San Diego area, you may want to consider taking public transportation to Balboa Park. There are several bus routes that stop near the park, as well as a trolley station located a few blocks away.

Use Ride-Sharing Services

Another option for getting to Balboa Park is to use a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft. This can be a convenient option if you don't have access to a car or don't want to deal with the hassle of finding a parking spot.

Plan Ahead for Special Events

If you're planning to attend a special event at Balboa Park, such as a concert or festival, be sure to plan ahead for parking. Some events may have designated parking areas or shuttles available, so check the event website for more information.

Consider a Parking Pass

If you plan on visiting Balboa Park frequently, it may be worth investing in a parking pass. There are several options available, including annual passes and multi-day passes.

Be Prepared to Walk

Even if you do find a parking spot relatively close to your destination in Balboa Park, be prepared to do some walking. The park is quite large, and some of the attractions are spread out over a large area.

Consider Alternative Transportation

If you're looking for a fun and eco-friendly way to explore Balboa Park, consider renting a bike or taking a Segway tour. These options can be a great way to see the park while avoiding the parking hassle.

Don't Get Frustrated

Finally, it's important to keep in mind that parking can be a challenge at Balboa Park, especially during peak season. If you're having trouble finding a spot, try not to get too frustrated. Remember that there are plenty of other things to see and do in the park, so take a deep breath and enjoy your visit.


Parking can be a challenge at Balboa Park, but with a little planning and some patience, you can make your visit a success. Consider arriving early or utilizing alternative transportation options such as public transportation or ride-sharing services. Additionally, be prepared to do some walking and consider purchasing a parking pass if you plan on visiting frequently. Remember to check any posted signs or time limits, and if you're having trouble finding a spot, don't get too frustrated - there's plenty to see and do in Balboa Park.


1. Is there parking available for RVs or large vehicles at Balboa Park?

Yes, there is a parking lot specifically designated for oversized vehicles located near the Natural History Museum.

2. Are there any free parking options at Balboa Park?

No, all parking at Balboa Park requires payment.

3. Can I reserve a parking spot in advance?

No, parking spots at Balboa Park are available on a first-come, first-served

4. What is the Cost of Parking at Balboa Park?

The cost of parking at Balboa Park varies depending on the lot and the duration of your stay. The most expensive lot is the one located near the San Diego Zoo, which charges $15 per car for the entire day. Other lots charge between $10 and $12 per car for the day. It's important to note that there are no in-and-out privileges for the daily rate, so if you leave and come back, you'll need to pay again.

5. Are There any Accessibility Options for Parking?

Yes, there are several accessible parking spaces available throughout Balboa Park. These spaces are located near the main entrances to the museums and other attractions. Additionally, visitors with disabilities may be eligible for a reduced parking rate with a valid disability placard or license plate.

6. Can I Use Credit Cards to Pay for Parking?

Yes, all of the parking lots at Balboa Park accept credit card payments. Some lots may also accept cash payments, but it's recommended to have a credit card on hand just in case.

7. Is There a Time Limit for Parking?

Yes, there are time limits for parking in some of the lots at Balboa Park. For example, the lot located near the San Diego Zoo has a maximum parking duration of 24 hours. Be sure to pay attention to any posted signs or time limits to avoid any parking tickets or fines.

8. Are There Any Free Parking Options Nearby?

While there are no free parking options within Balboa Park, there are some free street parking options located outside of the park. However, these spaces can fill up quickly, and some have time limits or permit requirements.

9. What Happens if I Lose my Parking Ticket?

If you lose your parking ticket, you'll need to pay the maximum daily rate for the lot you parked in. It's important to keep your parking ticket in a safe place to avoid any additional costs.

10. Can I Park Overnight in Balboa Park?

Overnight parking is not permitted in any of the lots at Balboa Park. The lots are open from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, so be sure to plan accordingly if you need to leave your car overnight.

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