Official Designations

Balboa Park has been called many things over its lifespan.  The "Jewel of San Diego," San Diego's "Cultural Hub," and "a place with something for everyone,"just  to name a few.

However, Balboa Park is honored to have received many official awards and designations, as well.  Here is a list of past and current designations:

National Park Services Department of the Interior National Historic Landmark (1977)

Image removed.National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, just over 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. Working with citizens throughout the nation, the National Historic Landmarks Program draws upon the expertise of National Park Service staff who guide the nomination process for new Landmarks and provide assistance to existing Landmarks.


Inaugural California Arts Council Cultural District (2017)

Image removed.


California is a land rich in resources. As the most populated state in the United States, California’s economy rivals that of most countries, the sixth largest in the world. Hollywood, redwoods, deserts, mountains, and fertile farm country all make their home in the Golden State. But with its impressive size, geography, and economic diversity, California’s cultural landscape is the strongest signifier of its identity.  California Cultural Districts highlight the cultural legacy of our state's most valuable resource—its diversity. From larger, urban areas to uncharted rural locations, each district helps grow and sustain authentic arts and culture opportunities, increase the visibility of local artists, and promote socio-economic and ethnic diversity through culture and creative expression. 14 districts will serve as California’s inagural state-designated Cultural Districts, highlighting some of the thriving cultural diversity and unique artistic identities within local communities across California.


2015 APA Great Public Spaces Designation (2015)

Image removed.

A public space may be a gathering spot or part of a neighborhood, downtown, special district, waterfront, or other area within the public realm that helps promote social interaction and a sense of community. Examples include spaces such as plazas, town squares, parks, marketplaces, public commons and malls, public greens, piers, special areas within convention centers or grounds, sites within public buildings, lobbies, concourses, or public spaces within private buildings. As with all categories of Great Places, it is important to identify what sets a space apart from others spaces to qualify it for a Great Spaces designation. Public Spaces must be at least 10 years old.

Characteristics of a Great Public Space include:

  1. Promotes human contact and social activities.
  2. Is safe, welcoming, and accommodating for all users.
  3. Has design and architectural features that are visually interesting.
  4. Promotes community involvement.
  5. Reflects the local culture or history.
  6. Relates well to bordering uses.
  7. Is well maintained.
  8. Has a unique or special character.