Quarantine lifts, but most Balboa Park attractions aren’t ready to reopen

Balboa Park
Although the county has lifted quarantine orders on cultural institutions in Balboa Park, many museums, like the San Diego Museum of Man, seen here in 2016, have yet to announce a reopening date.
(Misael Virgen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Gradual roll-out of park’s museums, zoo, gardens and other attractions will stretch into early July


After months in lockdown, the central mesa and parking lots at Balboa Park reopened to the public this morning. But park-goers rushing out this weekend for a day of museum-hopping may be disappointed. Only one museum will be open. The rest, as well as the San Diego Zoo, will be gradually reopening their doors between June 19 and July 4.

Michael Warburton, director of park-wide communications for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, said the reason for the delay is because the state’s safety protocol guidelines for museums and zoos were only issued on Monday

All of the park’s institutions have been closed to all but security and other essential workers since mid-March, so the returning staffs will need time to create their own social-distancing and cleaning procedures, train employees, install plexiglass shields where necessary and set up either outdoor queuing lines or timed ticketing procedures to avoid overcrowding.

The first museum to open its doors at 10 a.m. today is the San Diego Air & Space Museum, which Warburton said did most of its safety planning far in advance. It’s also one of the park’s largest museums, so social distancing isn’t much of a problem. Other locations, like the Botanical Building, may take longer to reopen because they have narrow walkways or other issues that may hinder social distancing.

Visitors should expect that some museums may reopen with reduced hours and days of operation, and some areas of the park — like the Palisades area and Bea Evensen Fountain near the Fleet Science Center — are closed for refurbishment, he said.

Although most of the major museums have yet to announce reopening dates, Warburton said many are aiming for the week of June 29 to gear up for the Fourth of July weekend. In a typical June, about 300,000 people attend Balboa Park’s cultural venues, which includes its theaters. For the year, the average number of attendees is around 3.5 million. Warburton said park visitors in June are likely to be locals on staycation, but with hotels now cleared to reopen, out-of-town visitors are expected to arrive in larger numbers in early July.

Sarah Beckman, external communications director for the Balboa Park Conservancy, said the public has been eager to get back into the park for months, and she’s looking forward to seeing people strolling down El Prado, the central corridor, once again.

“Balboa Park is the jewel of San Diego but it’s also the heart of San Diego,” she said. “It’s a public park, a neighborhood asset and a global destination. So for sure, inviting the city of San Diego back into the park is a beacon in these hard times.”

The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership has a page on its website listing museum reopening dates with daily updates at Below is the schedule for now. Before visiting the park, check the reopenings page and the individual museum’s website for ticketing information and safety rules, such as face covering requirements.

Opening today:

Opening June 19:

  • San Diego Automotive Museum, 2080 Pan American Plaza. (619) 231-2886,

Opening June 20:

Opening June 22:

Opening July 3:

  • Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado. (619) 238-1233,
  • The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, Chapel Road. (619) 804-3200,

Opening July 4:

  • Museum of Photographic Arts, 1649 El Prado. (619) 238-7559,
  • San Diego History Center, 1649 El Prado, Suite 3. (619) 232-6203,
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum, 1649 El Prado, Suite. (619) 696-0199,

No reopening date announced: