Outdoor Dining and Picnicking in Balboa Park

San Diego’s Balboa Park is an absolute treasure. Far from simply being a stunning park space, Balboa Park is home to many museums, countless events, and a year-round activities calendar. 

In addition, the park features many eateries, ranging from casual cafés to fine-dining establishments. Of course, Balboa’s lush green space also welcomes countless picnickers onto its green grounds every year. 

So if you’re feeling like a little alfresco dining, you’ll want to take a look at our guide to outdoor dining at Balboa Park.

Pack a Picnic

Balboa Park is a picnicker’s paradise. Not only is the park full of gorgeous green space, but there are loads of landmarks if you’re looking for a spectacular setting or beautiful backdrop. It’s impossible to go wrong when choosing a spot. Just pack up your basket, head over to the park, and you’ll be spoiled for choice. You can find all your favorite picnic-basket essentials at The Market Place, or if you’d rather grab prepared goodies to go, our own Point Loma Café and Bayside Bar would be happy to help out. Best of all, San Diego’s famously mild weather means you can head out any time of year. 

Albert’s Restaurant at the San Diego Zoo

If you’d rather trust the meal prep to the pros, we don’t blame you. Thankfully, you have several options when it comes to quality restaurants at the park. One of the best among them is Albert’s, inside the San Diego Zoo. Albert’s offers a full menu of food (as well as a range of craft beers, fine wines, and cocktails) in an open-air setting overlooking a waterfall. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. 

Alaska Airlines Flight Path Grill

Located inside the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the Flight Path Grill plates a high-flying assortment of tasty burgers, sandwiches, salads, wraps, and even a kids’ menu. Outdoor dining is available if you’d like to soak up some of that famously mild Southern California weather, along with scenic views. Don’t miss out on the famous root beer float for dessert!   


Fleet Science Center visitors will want to satisfy those hunger pangs at Craveology, the museum’s on-site eatery. Guests can enjoy a variety of sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, wraps, homemade soups, salads, and smoothies, all served in a casual atmosphere. Before you go, be sure to sit and sip a coffee on Craveology’s outdoor patio and enjoy that famous San Diego sunshine.     

Daniel’s Coffee

We could all use a pick-me-up now and again. Thankfully, Daniel’s Coffee is on-hand to serve up the java, fresh and hot. Just head to Spanish Village Art Center, and you’ll find a full menu of brewed awakenings sure to put some pep in your step. Daniel’s also offers tea, lattés, pastries, and other light bites, so you’re sure to find something refreshing.  

The Prado

Fine-dining aficionados will find The Prado inside the House of Hospitality at Balboa. The Prado plates a fine-dining menu featuring signature salads (such as a chicken cobb, pressed arugula, and mixed greens), scrumptious starters (like calamari fries and Kobe-beef sushi), and distinctive entreés (e.g., paella, specialty risotto, and fresh-caught salmon). Be sure to bring your appetite! 

Loads of Options

In addition to the above, hungry park visitors can also try delicious dishes and beverages at Lady Carolyn’s Pub, Café in the Park, Panama 66 (inside the San Diego Museum of Art), The Flying Squirrel, and the Tea Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden. Bon appétit!