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Casa del Prado San Diego Vacation Photos and Information


Casa del Prada or Casa in Balbo Park is a reconstruction of a previous building that existed during the 1915 Pan American Exhibition. This Spanish Colonial building looks grand from the outside, is more ordinary in the interior setting, which is kind of a let down for those expecting the theme to continue to its inner space. Casa del Prado Theatre, 1800 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101


Who would know that something so lovely is a reproduction of an original building design? It doesn't really matter because, when you visit Balboa Park, the complex looks so beautiful and pristine, you just fall in love with the ambience of this huge community park that greets San Diegans and huge numbers of tourists with its many museums, gardens, art exhibits and cafes and restaurants. One of the shining glories of San Diego, some tourists may never see the Casa shown above, or Balboa Park.


Many tourists will opt for the San Diego Zoo visit across the street from the park, or allocate time to SeaWorld, beaches and Gaslamp. Or maybe you'll spend your time on boat cruises.


As you wander along a section of the massive Balboa Park building complexes, you come to this building near the Visitors Center and our favorite restaurant, The Prado at Balboa Park restaurant. Across from this complex and courtyard is another building shown above. Casa del Prado and adjacent Casa del Prado Theatre are available for special events, weddings, Park and Recreation dance programs, and the San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation and library. So popular is use of the building complex that there's often a waiting line to reserve the space, which brides love for their weddings, as well.  The Majorca Room can hold up to 240 for dinner or 300 for a meeting. The courtyards are ideal for weddings. For reserving space in this special spot, you will need to call the City of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation at (619) 235-1169 (number subject to change).


Casa del Prado was once known as the Varied Industries and Food Products Building in 1915. Then it became the Food and Beverage Building in 1935 and now it is called Casa del Prado. Costing just under $100K when first built, it was desingned by Ahitect Carleton M. Winslow and included north and south wings. A sumptuously decorated entrance with  Spanish-Colonial baroque garland columns, a centrifugal quatrefoil window and a climatic gable on the east facade flanked on both sides by towers with open belfries and blue and yellow tiled domes gave the appearance of the entry way to a European church. The bishop in a medallion above the central door and a cross in a starburst medallion above the quatrefoil window further promote the concept of a holy building. While the bishop was removed, the has cross remained along with the addition of fruits, vegetables, Neptune faces, cherubs and bunches of grapes, plus other items. "Citizen Kane," director Orson Welles used the east facade of the Varied Industries and Food Products Building to demonstrate Kane's passion for acquiring exotic objects.

San Diegans wanted to keep as many of the buildings as they could after the 1915 exhibit, but Varied Industries and Food Products and the Commerce and Industries Buildings  were selected for removal from the space. But the war came along and most of Balboa Park was used to house soldiers.  Varied Industries and Food Products Building fell into disrepair but found an injection of capital after WWII. In 1968 voters approved Proposition M calling for a bonded indebtedness of $3,500,000 to construct a replacement for the Food and Beverage Building and other facilities. Rechristened as Casa del Prado in 1971, it has served as a meetings space for Garden Foundation and the San Diego Floral Society, groups that occupy permanent rooms. The general public can attend floral exhibits in the exhibit hall at the east end of the south building. They can also rent assembly rooms in the south building whenever designated groups are not using them. The outdoor patio is used for major park events. It was the site of a chess tournament during the "Treasures of the Soviet Union" festival in the summer of 1989. When wandering by on most days, as you wonder what's behind those doors of the palatial looking edifice, you now know that it is just ordinary rooms by most standards, and quite unlike the outside decoration that entices guests to take pictures.


Where to stay when visiting Balboa Park: Downtown San Diego is close enough, taking just a few minutes to arrive from the hotel to the park. On a girlfriend getaway, we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel. It was a little pricy considering the pool was closed for a private party. But if you like luxury bedding, modern decor and the hip atmosphere, you'll get all that, plus an ideal location right at the entrance to Gaslamp Quarter. I would go back again and stay at Hard Rock if I can find a price of $200. Sometimes on special you can find that price, but you have to keep looking and be willing to go there when the price is right. With all the restaurants and clubs surrounding it as well as within the hotel, it's definitely a happening spot, not to mention it sits next to Petco Ball Park. Right next to it!



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