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America's Coolest City Parks

Balboa Park, San Diego

Richard Benton

Balboa Park, San Diego

The sprawling 1,200-acre Balboa Park packs in more than two dozen cultural institutions, including the Tony Award–winning Old Globe theater, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the famed San Diego Zoo, one of the world’s few zoos with resident giant pandas. The park overlooks a seriously beautiful backdrop (the Pacific Ocean) and has buildings so stunning that some exteriors were filmed by Orson Welles to represent the grand fictional estate Xanadu in Citizen Kane.

Coolest Time to Visit: Spring, when the zoo animals are more active and the park’s magnificent gardens bloom.

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