Walks, Talks, Tours and Concerts for Adults/ Groups

Upcoming Lectures:  

Please see Calendar of Events for more programs and lectures including:

  • Balboa Park Centennial Lecture Series
  • 'Balboa The MAN!', special presentation by Jesus Benayagas, House of Spain
  • San Diego History 101, 3 Part Survey Course
  • Who Built That?:  San Diego Architecture Series
  • and more

Adult Group Tours

Have a group of family, friends, colleagues, or a social group that wants a unique outing in Balboa or Presidio Parks?  Then join our specially trained docents for a Group Tour of our museums.  Visitors of all ages will come to appreciate the rich and dynamic history of San Diego through shared stories attached to the objects, historic photographs, documents, costumes and more that are on view in our museums.  Your visit to San Diego History Center's historic sites is an experience that your group will likely remember for a long time to come.

EXTEND YOUR DAY WITH US!  Getting Hungry?  No problem.  Let our Events Manager help you round out your day with a box lunch or catered dinner menu.  Various food selections, and space rental times are available.  Contact Nicole George, Events Manager at 619-232-6203, ext.109 or email ngeorge@sandiegohistory.org for more information. 

Available Tours:


A joyous and exuberant celebration of the art of the world’s most popular children’s book author, artistic genius and beloved San Diegan. This tour offers a rare look at the man as a true artist, highlighting his inspirations, fears, doubts, triumphs and tribulations in his career. Includes a glimpse of artwork not necessarily associated with the man behind the Cat in the Hat!  Extend you stay by participanting in a number of hands-on activities that express your individual creativity and artistic talents!  Tour includes a 30 minute illustrated talk within our Thornton Theatre prior to a gallery tour.

Tour explores the region's past through historic artifacts, reproduction documents and photographs left behind as an historic record.  Hear stories associated with these items and others giving a more intimate look at the individual people, places and events that shaped our regional history.  Discover a different story each time you visit, as new artifacts and documents are installed periodically.

One of the defining features of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition was its celebration of the progressive forces in the American art world of its time. Touring the companion exhibition, Masterworks of the Exposition Era, commemorates the art of the original Exposition, which featured a dramatic presentation of the work of a group of prominent American painters, hand-selected by renowned artist Robert Henri, including George Bellows, John Sloan, William Glackens, George Luks, Guy Pene duBois and other great American artists of the era. The exhibition and accompanying tour of their now-classic paintings was complemented by a display by such notable California-based painters of the period as William Wendt, Guy Rose, Anna Hills and E. Charlton Fortune, along with outstanding works from a group of regional artists who were soon to turn San Diego into a thriving art center, including Maurice Braun, Alfred Mitchell, Alice Klauber and Charles Fries.  This is one tour you won't want to miss!  Tour includes a 30 minute illustrated talk within our Thornton Theatre before the gallery tour.

The definitive, commemorative exhibition of the 1915 Exposition is set in a framework of innovation as an event and as a showcase of innovations in commerce, industry, agriculture and arts/culture during that era.  Both celebratory and educational, the tour showcases the legacy of the 1915 Expo that put San Diego on the map, created the nation’s largest urban cultural park, promoted Southern California as a land of optimism and opportunity, and fostered internationalism.
Guests are encouraged to participate in a number of hands-on activities, including creating "Boosterism" posters, get a feel for architecture and the building blocks of construction as you design your own Exposition building; sleuth for clues that solve a 'History Mystery' occurring at the Exposition; take a selfie signing the enormous Exposition guest book; Listen to 'former' guests of the 1915 Exposition and find out their role in the Park's planning and development; plan for the future of Balboa Park with our time capsule station where you offer advice on what to improve, create, or eliminate that will help Balboa Park remain the Jewel of San Diego long into the future.  Don't forget your camera as it will come in handy at our hands-on activity stations! 


Life on Presidio Hill  Tour highlights the four different cultures that have occupied Presidio Hill from the Kumeyaay, Spanish, Mexican and early American periods.  The tour includes a walk through the former site of the Spanish fort built in 1769 and the gallery spaces inside the Junipero Serra Museum.

(Please note:  This tour travels over varied terrain and is outdoors for at least 30 minutes.  Comfortable, well supported walking shoes are recommended.)



Balboa Park History Stroll  2015 marks the 100th Anniversary of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park!  It's been here for 100 years, but have you ever thought about how it was created?  Who came up with the Exposition idea?  Why are the buildings situated on the Central Mesa above Downtown San Diego?  How did it gets its name?  What is missing from the two Expositions that have been held here, in 1915 and again in 1935, and what remains?  Learn these and many more trivia tidbits as you explore the Park on this easy paced walking tour.  Trained museum guides use historic photographs and documentation from the History Center's vast record to help put you back in time, so that you can see today what they saw 100 years ago!

Tours are offered each Thursday at 11am and 1pm and first Saturdays at 1pm.  Walk ups are welcome to join any tour, however, please purchase your ticket at least 5 minutes prior to the start of each tour so we can begin on time. 

From Alcala to Zoro:  Balboa Park Architectural Walk & Talk  One of the most endearing legacies of the 1915 Exposition is the Spanish Colonial Architectural style that chief architect, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue chose for the buildings.  Modeled after some of the most prized cathedrals, town halls and expansive gardens in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and North Africa, Goodhue, and his 1935 counterpart, Richard Requa, attempted to create a mythological Spanish city that emulated the classical design of Chicago's Great White City, but identified itself as something altogether different.  Join SDHC trained guides on this one hour, easy paced walking tour of the Park's main street where we learn about the inspiration, construction and ornamentation of this Jewel of San Diego.  

Tour is offered first Saturday of each month (except December)  at 11am.  Walk ups are welcome to join an established tour, however, please arrive at least 5 minutes prior to the start of the tour to purchase a ticket, so we can begin our tour on time. 

Check our calendar of events for upcoming public tour dates.  

Progress of Man:  The 1935 California - Pacific Exposition Walk & Talk
This hour-long, easy paced walking tour reveals how a Depression-era San Diego pulled itself up out of the duldrums to create a spectacular world showcase that celebrated Progress of Man.  Learn how DC Collier, San Diego's 1915 Exposition cheerleader played a pivotal role in Chicago's 1933 Century of Progress that served as inspiration for San Diego's expo two year's later.  Explore the architectural achievements of architect, Richard Requa as we leisurely stroll around the Pan-America Plaza, uncovering the inspiration for his buildings and the themes of this very unique exposition.  Lastly come away with hidden stories to share about the celebrated socialites and sinister scoundrels who made their way to San Diego that year!  You'll never lookof this portion of Balboa Park the same way again!

Tour offered last Saturday of each months at 1pm.  Meet in Alcazar Gardens.  Advance online ticket purchase required. 


Groups of 10 or less people are welcome to join an existing public walking tour as walk up guests on the day of the regularly scheduled tours, however groups of 10 or more individuals may book a private tour on any day of the week, separate from the regularly scheduled public tours.  Please call Gabe Selak, Public Programs Manager at 619-232-6203 ext. 129 or email gselak@sandiegohistory.org at least two weeks in advance of your first choice for tour date.  Have alternative dates ready for discussion if your first choice can not be accommodated.

Tour Information:

Group Size:  A minimum of 10 people are required to schedule a group tour.
*Please Note:  A maximum of 25 people for the Group Balboa Park Walking Tours.

Reservations:  Reservations for a group tour are required at least 2 weeks in advance of your tour date, and can be made by contacting the Public Programs Manager at 619-232-6203, ext. 129 or email gselak@sandiegohistory.org

Group Pricing:  All groups including adults, seniors, and college students are charged a $6 per person guided tour fee for our museum gallery tours and a non-refundable reservation fee of $10 is required.  Balboa Park Walking Tours are $10 per person.

Cancellations and changes Cancellations or changes made to reservations should be done at least 2 days prior to the scheduled museum visit.  Call the Public Programs Manager to make cancellations or changes at 619-232-6203, ext. 129.

PaymentPayment can be made upon arrival on the day of your tour, however, advanced payment is appreciated.  Cash, checks and credit cards are accepted.  Checks should be made out to San Diego History Center.

ParkingSan Diego History Center is located in the Casa de Balboa building in Balboa Park.  Parking is in adjacent lots behind the San Diego Natural History Museum or Reuben Fleet Science Center.  Once parked, walk to the front of the museums and the large Bea Eveson water fountain.  Head west towards the dome and tower of the California Building (Museum of Man).  Go down a slight set of stairs, and San Diego History Center is located on the left.

The Junipero Serra Museum is located at 2727 Presidio Drive in Presidio Park.  Parking is located in a large lot immediately below the museum. 



Check back soon for more events!  To see a list of upcoming events at the San Diego History Center, see our Calendar of Events.

Speaker's Bureau:

Astonishing stories, intriguing facts, informative quotes, and humorous accounts of San Diego's past. Speakers will come to your place of preference and wow the audience of your choice with interesting and informative discussions.

Speaker’s Fee:

$100 for non-profit organizations

$150 for-profit corporations & businesses

Checks may be made to San Diego History Center. We also accept cash, credit cards and purchase orders as payments. Payments are requested at least two weeks prior to your program date to hold your reservation, and all but $10 is refundable if you need to cancel your program. Cancellations are requested no later than 2 days before the scheduled program date.

Complete list of Speaker's Bureau Topics: More Information

Booking a Program:

Booking a program is easy. Simply choose a topic from the list provided and the date that you would like your program to occur. We strongly recommend that you choose at least two topics for your event, in chance that your first choice is not available on the date that you request a presentation. If your first choice cannot be accommodated, we will arrange your second choice. To arrange a program, please contact Gabe Selak, Public Programs Manager, or call 619-232-6203, ext. 129.