Location: Balboa Park (3 Miles Northeast of Downtown San Diego)
Open: Sundays 12PM – 4PM
Features: Visit the Cottages of 21 Countries (+11 more on a rotating basis) to learn their cultures through food, music, dance, and more.
Balboa Park International Cottage Highlights: Explore the cultures of 32 countries at Balboa Park. Local consulates, immigrants, and supporters help visitors learn more about countries from around the world. The hosts dress up in traditional clothing representative of their respective countries and offer visitors a window into their culture through decorations, displays about their history, a taste of popular foods, music, and even traditional dances or other performances. All of the cottages are grouped together in one area along with the Hall of Nations Building and the San Diego Chapter of the United Nations Association. The complex is referred to as the House of Pacific Relations.
Cottages – Twenty-one countries have their own cottages, which are open to the public each Sunday. The countries include China, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States.
Hall of Nations – Eleven other countries use the Hall of Nations building on a rotating basis. They rotate on both Sunday afternoons and on the 4th Tuesday of each month (11AM – 3PM). These countries include Argentina, Austria, Columbia, India, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, Palestine, Peru, Panama, and Turkey. If you want to see a particular country, you can take a look at their rotation schedule.
United Nations International Gift Shop – Be sure to stop by the gift shop for hard-to-find items from around the world. It is open daily from 10AM – 4:30PM.
Food – If you spend enough time trying the foods from different countries, you should have no need to find food for lunch. However, there are additional cafes near the entrances of some of the other museums in Balboa Park. If you are looking for something more than what is offered in a cafe, Balboa Park’s Prado Restaurant is more of an upscale full service restaurant. You can read more about the food options on the Balboa Park web site.
No Smoking is allowed in or around the International Cottages.
Information on Visiting the International Cottages
- Parking is Free
- Entry is Free
Directions from Google Maps to 2215 Pan American Road in San Diego, CA 92101. This address will put you right at the corner of Presidents Way and Pan American Road, which is noted in the parking section below. Across the street you will see the United Nations International Gift Shop and the Hall of Nations. Behind them you will see the group of international cottages.
Traffic – Unless there is a major event at Balboa Park, which occurs a few times during the year, getting in and out of the Balboa Park on Sundays is relatively easy using Park Boulevard. (Just in case, learn how to get the latest traffic updates.)
Parking – When you turn off of Park Boulevard and enter Balboa Park on Presidents Way, you will come to an intersection with Pan American Road. The parking area straight ahead of you is adjacent to the cottages. However, these spots fill up quickly. You are more likely to find a parking spot in the larger lot to your right as you approach the intersection. (Note: Do not make a right turn at the first street you see after turning onto Presidents Way from Park Boulevard. It does not access the larger parking lot even though it looks like it should.)
If you do not want to deal with parking hassles, especially during the summer and on weekends, go to the large parking lots on the opposite side of Park Boulevard. They are on Presidents Way on the east side of Park Boulevard, away from the museums. The Tram starts at the end of the driveway and circulates every 10 minutes from 8:30AM – 6PM daily with extended hours during the summer and special occasions. Get off at the first stop (Pan American Plaza northbound), which is at the intersection of Presidents Way and Pan American Road.
Transit - Buses serving Balboa Park drop passengers off on Park Boulevard at the intersection with Presidents Way. You will have to walk about 200 yards to reach the International Cottages or you can catch the Free Balboa Park Tram. The Tram starts at the end of the driveway, on the east side of Presidents Way and circulates every 10 minutes. Get off at the first stop (Pan American Plaza northbound) and continue walking ahead where Presidents Way turns into a parking lot. You will walk right into the cottages after walking through the short end of the parking lot. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map, which includes Balboa Park, and information for the online Transit Planner.)
Balboa Park Map – The map shows a listing of all Balboa Park Museums, attractions, bus and tram stops, and places to eat. You should also print out the Balboa Park Tram Map from the City of San Diego. It is not as detailed but is helpful because it includes names on each of the buildings. With the other map, you need to use a map key to find the name of a building.