Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

beer in balboa park

What to Do This Weekend in San Diego: Beer and Flowers at Balboa Park

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Looking for something to do this weekend in San Diego other than fireworks?  How about checking out my new secret beer spot in Balboa Park and then a stroll through the gardens?  Whether you're a local or tourist, here's the perfect Sunday afternoon in San Diego.

Panama 66 is the best place to get a cold, local beer in Balboa Park


I knew that getting rid of that parking lot in front of the San Diego Museum of Art would be a good thing.  Where there once was a fairly non-descript and generic "park food" cafe is not Panama 66, the offshoot restaurant from Blind Lady Ale House and Tiger! Tiger!, two foodie (and beer) favorites in the North Park area.

Wish there was still a parking lot here?  Not me!

Order up some food and a cold beer and grab a table looking into the new plaza.  It's not Paris but you can sort of pretend it is, watching people stroll by and the tourists with their cameras.  Oh crap, I look like a tourist!  Well, these are the sort of things I do for my readers.

Panama 66 in Balboa Park makes some serious pub food like these fries.

Really great food at Panama 66 - not too fancy, perfect lunch spot.

Really great food at Panama 66 - not too fancy, perfect lunch spot.

The menu at Panama 66 is short and casual and the quality is beyond what you might expect from a cafe in Balboa Park.  You order at the bar and don't be discouraged if all you want is a beer and you see a long line - the line on the left, the short one, is for beer and wine only. 

You probably already know that I LOVE french fries and Panama 66 does a very credible job with crispy kennebecs that can be topped with truffle oil and parmesan if you want, though truffle oil is so last decade and who wants to be mocked by a foodie (or Gordon Ramsey, for that matter)?  The turkey and brie was great and the salads all looked outstanding - I'd get one next time, with fries, of course.  Kids meals too, get one for your dog if you don't have a kid as dogs are welcome here.

The secret picnic spot for beer and wine in Balboa park!

Behind the cafe is the Art Sculpture Garden, a place you probably walked by a hundred times and never stopped.  Well here's my secret - it's also the place you can grab a beer or glass of wine (get the sparkling!) and have a wonderful picnic.  Family friendly, nice grassy area, I could sit here all afternoon.  And while I love the food at Panama 66, they won't let you take it to the lawn area so next time I'm packing in my own bread and cheese and we'll see if I get kicked out - I'll let you know!

Next up, the Botanical Gardens

Visit the Botanical Gardens in Balboa Park.

If you're looking for FREE stuff to do in San Diego, Balboa Park is the place.  While the museums all charge a fee (except for the first four Tuesdays of each month for residents), there are plenty of things to do and see that doesn't cost anything.  I love just going to the gardens to shoot some pics and take in the scenery.  I gave my camera to my wife and she shot the pics below.  Pretty good!

So there you have it - a perfect thing to do this weekend in San Diego.  Go to Balboa Park for a light lunch, a dark beer, and a stroll through the gardens.  It's a fabulous way to spend a few hours exploring the town we call home.