Networking Opportunities Abound in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Situated in the heart of San Diego’s Balboa Park, the House of Hospitality is a National Historic Landmark featuring Spanish-Colonial architecture that dates back to the city’s early days. Built for the 1915 to 1916 Panama-California Exposition—a 2-year festival that promoted San Diego and the 1914 opening of the Panama Canal—the building has since been restored. It is now home to both indoor and outdoor spaces decorated with artwork, sculptures, gardens and fountains that represent the area’s Spanish, Moorish and Mexican heritage.

The Prado Restaurant, with its colorful Spanish tile ceiling, vibrant décor of glass vases and deer antler lamps brings the park to life. Groups of 10 to 50 can dine in the private dining spaces highlighted by a hand-stenciled wooden ceiling and chandeliers. Smaller groups can simply gather in the main dining room or out on the dining patio to nosh on fish tacos or spicy calamari fries—both worth the visit alone.
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The Prado at Balboa Park features more than 22,000-sf of indoor and outdoor banquet spaces. The building’s central courtyard serves as a prefunction space to the 5,500-sf grand ballroom. Guests can gather around the Aztec Woman of Tehuantepec fountain, created by Donal Hord. The sculpture captures the image of a woman pouring water from a carafe into the pool below, which is decorated by bright blue, brick red and yellow Spanish tiles. The ballroom, too, has Spanish charm with its hand-stenciled ceiling and wooden floors matched by lacy chandeliers hanging above. The Casa del Rey Moro Gardens can accommodate 320 guests amidst its multilevel terraces. The gardens feature a historic fountain, reflecting pool, wishing well and landscaped gardens that carve out spaces for intimate networking conversations.

“Our Spanish-Colonial charm and unique architecture will make you feel like you are on vacation, not in a conference,” says Sofia Picazo, general manager of The Prado.

Before or after the event, attendees can venture off to explore some of the 1,200-acre park. Within a 5-minute walk, they will find the Botanical Building and its adjacent lily pond. The building houses 2,100 permanent plants varying from cycads to ferns to orchids. Also nearby is the San Diego Museum of Man, which features anthropological exhibits. On display now is the Instruments of Torture exhibit, which takes visitors on a tour through generations of torture devices that date back to the 1400s. Although the exhibit is not for the faint of heart, it is guaranteed to spark interesting conversations among peers about the human psyche—definitely not just a walk in the park.