Minutes from downtown, San Diego’s Balboa Park is home to 15 major museums, several performing arts venues, amazing gardens and a bunch of other cultural and recreational attractions, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo. If that sounds like it might be a bit cramped, don’t worry: at 1,200 acres it is the nation’s largest urban park and handily ranks as one of the best green spaces in the world.Â Much of the stunning Spanish Renaissance architecture and landscaping is the legacy of two great expositions that were crucial in creating the park as it stands today: the 1915 Panama California Exposition which heralded the opening of the Panama Canal and the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition held to boost the local economy during the depression. Many of the park’s cultural attractions lie along El Prado, a wide boulevard which cuts through the center, including The Old Globe, the Museum of Man, the Timken Museum of Art, and the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world, Spreckels Organ. Gardens in the park range from the formal plantings of the Alcazar Garden, to a Desert Garden of some 1,300 succulents from around the world; from the tropical oasis of Palm Canyon, to the fragrant Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. There’s even an 18-hole golf course, a velodrome, archery ranges, and the Navy Medical Center, all within its generous boundaries.