Eight Days in San Diego's Balboa Park

for National Geographic Traveler


This assignment felt like I was stuck in a charming time loop. Wake up, enter the park, exit the park, sleep. Repeat. My editors asked me to spend 8 straight days in San Diego's Balboa Park. Exploring every garden, activity, cute animal, weird sport, and friendly face. The park is larger than New York's Central and expands across three mesas. There are museums, an archery range, dog parks, lawn bowling, and even a velodrome for cyclists.


The green expanse is a crash course in thoughtful city planning and community building. On the eighth and final Groundhog Day I entered the park yet again, feeling like I'd seen every tree and pathway, wondering what could possibly be left to explore. Naturally, there is one of the largest outdoor organs in the park and I made a few portraits of the city's "civic organist." A man, paid by the city, to play an organ concert every Sunday. It was then I realized the happiest place on Earth is maybe not the mouse-themed park near Los Angeles, but this human-rich park in San Diego. 

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