Holiday Shopping Can Help Balboa Park Nonprofits Impacted by COVID-19

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Museums and performing arts venues in San Diego's Balboa Park have been hit hard by COVID-19. Help these nonprofits and get your holiday shopping done all at the same time!

San Diego's Balboa Park, home to over 2-dozen cultural organizations.

Michael Warburton, Director of Parkwide Communications for the park's Cultural Partnership, said "Shopping with the nonprofits in Balboa Park will help them get through hardships due to COVID-19 and ensure their survival."

Nonprofit venues in Balboa Park have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have been through three rounds of closures with no stability in sight. Some, such as the performing arts organizations, have not held public performances since March.

With the holidays fast approaching, people can shop for unique gifts all while supporting the Balboa Park venues they love. With options for in-person shopping, new online shops, as well as the gift of experiences, shoppers are sure to find something for everyone on their list!

Indoor museums and other venues may currently be closed, but a visit to the park can be a fun trip to buy unique items for your loved ones. Here are some suggestions for your in-person shopping trip.

  • San Diego Air and Space Museum – Find all things about flight in this shop! Though the museum is currently closed, the shop is open Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am to 4:30 pm. Choose from a selection of NASA and space-themed shirts, to toy aircraft, patches, décor, and more.
  • United Nations International Gift Shop – Find special items from around the world in one great place! The little-known shop is near the International Cottages, and is chock full of interesting knick-knacks, jewelry, books, and more from every corner of the planet. Open Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Balboa Park Visitors Center – Not only does the center provide great service to park visitors, they offer a wide variety of Balboa Park-themed and other merchandise. Open Daily.
  • Spanish Village Art Center – Dozens of artist studios packed with creations from local artists. Find anything from paintings, ceramics, and glass-blown art to jewelry, woodworking, and sculptural items. Open Daily.

Many of the park’s nonprofits have created online shopping portals to connect their fans with special items. Here are some online shops for a variety of people in your life.

  • Museum of Photographic Arts – Film and photography fans rejoice! The MOPA online shop has a variety of items, including those for your favorite camera hobbyist. Check out the realistic camera lens coffee mug – a photographer’s favorite.
  • San Diego Art Institute – Visit the Regional Artist’s Market (RAM) online. Contemporary pieces designed by artists from the San Diego/Mexico binational region, choose from wearables to original artwork. A portion of each sale goes directly to the artists featured.
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum – in this online shop you’ll find unique shirts, books, and even Thomas and Friends toys for the young and young at heart railroad hobbyist in your life!
  • San Diego Museum of Art – In this online shop fine art meets fine gifts! A large variety of home goods, toys, jewelry and more, based on your favorite fine art works and artists.
  • San Diego Zoo – The Shop Zoo website has an excellent selection of shirts, masks, housewares, and more for the animal lover in your life. Check out the selection of holiday items, including the new Jungle Bells peppermint chameleon t-shirts.

Balboa Park organizations continue to operate virtually, providing special experiences to people everywhere. And closures are surely not forever, making a gift certificate or a park-wide pass a great idea for friends, family, and loved ones. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Winter Virtual Camp at the Fleet Science Center – The Fleet may be closed, but they continue to offer camp experiences in-person and online. Participation in virtual camp starts at $25, and includes a materials pack for hands-on fun with online instruction.
  • Old Globe Theatre – Whether for seasoned theatre-goers or to introduce someone to a live performance experience, a gift certificate from the Old Globe can be used for any performance, and they never expire.
  • Balboa Park Explorer Annual Pass – Give the gift of the park! 365 days of unlimited visits to 16 museums, plus discounts on IMAX theater tickets at the Fleet and tours at the Marston House Museum. An annual family pass for 2 adults and 4 children is just $229!

To connect with shopping from across the park, visit:

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Michael Warburton
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