Nothing says spring like flowers, and even though San Diego winters are pretty tame affairs, that doesn’t mean we don’t like embracing the vernal season with plenty of blooms! When you stay with us at the Sofia Hotel, you’re within shouting distance of one of the finest spreads of gardens in the region: those in Balboa Park!

This venerable greenspace, still celebrating this year the centennial of the Panama-California Exposition it famously hosted, boasts no fewer than 16 different gardens on its sprawling, verdant grounds. A stroll through any one of them is a wonderful way to embrace spring—and to slow down your pace and enjoy a little tranquility, Southern Californian-style.

One of the standouts of Balboa Park is the Japanese Friendship Garden, which commemorates the bond San Diego enjoys with its sister city of Yokohama. Besides blooming cherry trees, magnolias, wisteria, and other showstoppers, you’ll love the tumbling waterfalls, gnarled bonsai, stone lanterns, moon-viewing deck, and other elements of this traditional Japanese garden. The Japanese Friendship Garden enlarged significantly last year with the addition of nine acres.

The flower display is also kicking off in the award-winning Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, with peak blooms generally in April and May. Its three acres burst with some 1,600 rosebushes representing better than 130 distinct varieties.

Speaking of the Panama-California Exposition, one of Balboa Park’s most famous sights is the Botanical Building, constructed for that 1915-16 celebration. The vista of this gorgeous lath building beside its Lily Pond is absolutely iconic, while inside you’ll be enveloped in the tropics given the luxuriant palms, cycads, orchids, and other exotic plants on display.

Speaking of palms, one of Balboa Park’s most peaceful corners is Palm Canyon, where you can hike a tucked-away ravine bristling with nearly 60 different species of palms.

Then there’s the Children’s Ethnobotany Garden, its plots dedicated to inspiring interest and engagement with the plant kingdom in young ones; the California Native Plant Garden, which showcases some lovely presettlement Golden State species; the Veterans Memorial Garden, anchored by a majestic replica of a World War II bomber—and more!

Come get in the spirit of springtime and revel in the splendor of one of America’s greatest urban greenspaces with a tour of Balboa Park’s idyllic gardens. Here at the Sofia, we can’t wait to host you during your blossom blowout!

Photo credit: quinnanya