Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden San Diego follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

 Balboa Desert & Rose Garden

Zoo Pl, San Diego, CA 92104

(619) 525-8213

32.731697, -117.145591

Dog-Friendly: Yes    Kid-Friendly: Yes




About the Balboa Desert Garden

The Balboa Desert Garden was established at the Park Blvd. location in 1976 and contains more than 1,300 plants, including succulents and drought-resistant plants from around the world, within its 2.5 acres.

The peak blooming period is January through March; however, these plants are interesting at any time of year because of their unusual shapes.

While you’re in the area, make sure to visit the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Nearby!

It is said that some of these plants predate the official garden and were planted by Kate Sessions herself! I love visiting this spot. There are so many quirky plants growing here including a hollowed out tree that is large enough to fit inside!

I also read that Dr. Seuss was inspired by this exact garden and the unusual plants we see in his illustrations were at least in part inspired by them! More inspiration came from the plants in La Jolla!

This is a quaint garden and can easily be done in under 20 minutes (unless you are a big plant lover.  In that case you’ll probably want to spend far more time here!). This garden is connected to the Inez Grant Parker Rose Garden so make sure to check that out as well. And if you’re really into native plant gardens packed with history, see if you can find the Old Cactus Garden located on the other side of Balboa Park! It pre-dates this one!

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The Balboa Desert Garden is a historic garden that was created under the supervision of Kate Sessions for the California Pacific International Exposition.

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  • Gary Burns
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    This is actually the “Desert Garden” in Balboa Park, which was developed around 1976 along with the “newer” Inez Grant Rose Garden.( the original Rose Garden was south of the Prado restaurant where their patio is now, The “Old Cactus Garden” which Kate Sessions helped developed is still behind the Balboa Park Club Building. When They developed the land on the east side of Park Blvd, they moved alot of the bigger cactus and succulents to the new location. A couple signs in the park are misleading and label the Desert Garden as the Cactus Garden. Anyway just wanted to clear that up. I work for Balboa Park/Park and Rec. and the Desert Garden is my main area.

    Love your website and the interesting locations thru out SD County. Keep up the awesome job!

    March 8, 2014

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