Boats fill the San Diego Marriott Marina.

Marriott hotel rises behind the marina.
Marriott hotel rises behind the busy marina.

Here’s another look at the beautiful San Diego Marriott Marina. Hundreds of boats find safe harbor in this large expanse of water between a grassy park to the west and the silvery Marriott Marquis hotel. You can see boats of every size and description: sailboats, speedboats, small yachts…

Around Christmas, many of these watercraft are decked with strings of colored lights, glowing Santas, and other illuminated decorations, making for a festive scene at night. Dozens of boats participate in the holiday Parade of Lights, cruising merrily around San Diego Bay.

Throughout the year, it’s fun to watch individual boats gliding slowly in and out of the marina. You can also spot rented Jet Skis, people enjoying kayaks, and others standing on paddleboards.

Marriott Marina with nearby Hilton hotel in the background.
Marriott Marina with nearby Hilton hotel in the background.
Man on paddleboard enjoys calm water in the marina.
Man on paddleboard enjoys calm water in the marina.
One of several ramps to the San Diego Marriott's marina.
One of several ramps to the San Diego Marriott’s marina.
Watercraft for rent at the Marriott Marina.
Watercraft for rent at the Marriott Marina.
Inflatable Christmas dog decorates boat in Marriott Marina.
Inflatable Christmas dog decorates boat in the marina.

Beautiful hotels along the San Diego bayfront.

Beautiful hotels along San Diego Bay.
Beautiful hotels along San Diego Bay.

Visible in this photo, taken from the walking path at the south end of the Marriott Marina, are two prominent hotels on San Diego’s picturesque waterfront. To the left is the elegant Manchester Grand Hyatt, and in the center are the two curved, shining, sail-like buildings of the Marriott Marquis. On the far right you can see the north end of the long San Diego Convention Center.

After gazing awhile at the hundreds of sailboats and small yachts docked in the marina, you might head a short distance west to enjoy views of the grassy Embarcadero Marina Park South and its fishing pier on San Diego Bay.

San Diego bayfront hotels seen through trees.
Two San Diego bayfront hotels seen through trees.
View of Hilton Hotel behind tall masts and trees.
View of Hilton San Diego Bayfront behind tall masts and trees.

You’ll find the Hilton on the other side of the San Diego Convention Center.

Hilton Hotel seen beyond Harbor Excursion ticket booth.
Hilton hotel seen beyond San Diego Harbor Excursion ticket booth.
Marriott Hotel as seen from the bayside walkway.
Marriott Hotel as seen from the bayside walkway.
Looking north from the silvery Marriott toward the sandy Hyatt.
Looking north from the silvery Marriott toward the sandy Hyatt.
The two Manchester Grand Hyatt towers.
One more look at the two Manchester Grand Hyatt towers.

Statues of historical figures in front of Horton Plaza.

horton plaza statue beside ticket lady

The lady in this ticket booth in front of Horton Plaza seems unconcerned that a dark silent person looms ominously beside her! That person, in the form of a statue, is Ernest Hahn.  He’s a famous San Diego developer and the driving force behind the popular Horton Plaza shopping mall.

What you see in the first pic is a colorful scene near the entrance of Horton Plaza. An obelisk with a tile mosaic juts out of the underground entrance to the Lyceum Theater, which is home of the San Diego Repertory Theatre. The domed building in the upper left corner of the photograph belongs to the Balboa Theatre.

Ernest Hahn statue by Horton Plaza.
Ernest Hahn statue by Horton Plaza.

Across from the statue of Ernest Hahn is a bronze representation of Alonzo Erastus Horton, a gold miner, shop owner, and finally an influential real estate developer in the second half of the 19th century. He purchased cheap land for development adjacent to San Diego Bay where ships docked, well south of the established settlement below the old Spanish presidio.  Alonzo Horton’s New Town had supplanted Old Town in importance by the beginning of the 20th century.

Statue of Alonzo Horton, who helped steer the course of San Diego's history.
Statue of Alonzo Horton, whose ambitious business plans helped to steer the course of San Diego’s history.
Alonzo E. Horton established New Town where downtown San Diego exists today.
Alonzo E. Horton established his New Town where downtown San Diego exists today.

The third statue stands a bit to the west, on the other side of Horton Square. You can find it in the shade of a tree. The figure is Pete Wilson, who served as San Diego mayor from 1971 to 1983. He went on to serve as United States Senator and governor of California.

Statue of Pete Wilson, a popular San Diego mayor and prominent political figure.
Statue of Pete Wilson, a popular San Diego mayor and prominent political figure.

A beautiful photo of reflection in Balboa Park.

A beautiful photo of reflection in Balboa Park.
A beautiful photo of reflection in Balboa Park.

I like this photo…even though an optical illusion makes it appear a bit tilted!

This was taken in the early morning from the short walkway that passes over Balboa Park’s shimmering reflecting pool. You are looking toward the splendid Spanish Colonial Revival buildings on El Prado.

Later in the morning, when the world has yawned, stretched and put on its shoes, people will be sitting on the white benches. Children will be standing at the pond’s edge, gazing down at Japanese Koi and myriad other critters in the water. An older gentleman will probably be heard nearby, playing Mariachi music with his guitar. And dozens of photographs will be taken. Each as beautiful as this one!

Here are some additional pics taken at various times…

View of the entire reflecting pool from the Botanical Building.
View of the entire reflecting pool from the Botanical Building.
Side view of the Balboa Park reflecting pool.
Side view of the Balboa Park’s reflecting pool.
Photographer at work beside Balboa Park's reflecting pool.
Photographer at work beside the beautiful water.

Splashes of color in Balboa Park lily pond.

bright color in balboa park lily pond

One of my favorite places in Balboa Park is the reflecting pool, or lily pond, as some call it. This tranquil body of water lies between El Prado and the enormous wood lath structure which is the Botanical Building.

Flower beds, green grass and families enjoying picnics surround the pond, and colorful lotus flowers grace the surface. All sorts of interesting creatures call it home. In addition of numerous large koi (two can be seen in this photo), and floating turtles craning their heads to gaze at tourists, there are crawdads and a variety of fish that people have dumped into the pond. Years ago a small shark was spotted in the serene water!

An interesting historical fact: during World War II, when Balboa Park was utilized to mobilize American soldiers, the Navy used the reflecting pool to train sailors! You can still see old black-and-white photos of men rowing on the pool when you visit the San Diego History Center, a bit further to the east down El Prado.

These photographs are of the small pond-like section right next to the Botanical Building. This is the best place to watch brightly colored Koi swimming about.

Looking down at bright colors in the reflecting pool.
Looking down at bright colors in the reflecting pool.
Lots of color can be found in this section of the reflecting pool, by the Botanical Building.
Lots of color can be found in this section of the reflecting pool, by the Botanical Building.
Turtle comes out of the water to enjoy a bit of San Diego sunshine!
Turtle comes out of the water to enjoy a bit of San Diego sunshine!
Crowd gazes into small section of Balboa Park reflecting pool.
Crowd gazes into small section of the Balboa Park lily pond.

The beautiful California Building and Quadrangle.

Elaborate facade of the beautiful Museum of Man in Balboa Park.
Elaborate facade of the beautiful California Building in Balboa Park.

Here’s one iconic sight in Balboa Park I always lift my eyes to enjoy. The elaborate facade of the California Building, home of the San Diego Museum of Man, contains sculpted historical figures molded from clay and plaster. These figures include Junipero Serra, father of California’s Spanish missions, and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered San Diego Bay nearly five centuries ago in 1542.

This fantastic building, inspired by the church of San Diego in Guanajuato, Mexico, was erected for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, an event that celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and promoted San Diego as a destination. Like other similar buildings to the east along El Prado, it is in the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, which was largely developed by Bertram Goodhue.

The California Building and adjacent California Tower, and the more simple structure to the south across El Prado–housing Evernham Hall and the St. Francis Chapel–form the California Quadrangle. The courtyard-like area at the quadrangle’s center, where visitors can sit at tables and through which cars today travel, is called the Plaza de California.

Every few years I venture into The Museum of Man just to refresh my memory. There are a number of interesting anthropological exhibits, including a whole room full of spooky Egyptian mummies!

Here are some more pics…

Gazing up at the colorful dome and the California Tower.
Gazing up at the colorful dome of the California Building, and the California Tower.
People on the street in front of the Museum of Man.
People on the street in front of the Museum of Man. El Prado runs through the Plaza de California.
Plaster figures from local history adorn the ornate facade.
Plaster figures from local history adorn the ornate facade.
Three exhibits running at the Museum of Art.
Banners near the entrance show current exhibits at the Museum of Man.
Plaque by Museum of Man commemorates Cabrillo's discovery of California.
Plaque a bit west of the Museum of Man, beside the archway into Balboa Park’s California Quadrangle, commemorates Cabrillo’s discovery of California.
Sitting at table under an umbrella near Museum of Man.
Sitting at a table under an umbrella near the beautiful Museum of Man.

Here are even more photos from a later date…

Sign in the California Quadrangle. Built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the Plaza de California and surrounding buildings served as the grand west entrance for the exposition.
Sign in the California Quadrangle. Built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the Plaza de California and surrounding buildings served as the grand west entrance for the exposition.
Photo toward the southeast corner of the California Quadrangle shows Mission Revival style arches.
Photo toward the southeast corner of the California Quadrangle shows Mission Revival style arches.
Photo of the iconic California Tower from a point east on El Prado.
Photo of the iconic California Tower from a point east on El Prado.
The ornate upper levels of the California Bell Tower.
The ornate upper levels of the California Bell Tower. Tours up the tower’s stairs provide amazing views of Balboa Park and San Diego.
Photo of the beautiful California Building from the east, near the Old Globe Theatre.
Photo of the beautiful California Building from the east, near the Old Globe Theatre.
Elaborate ornamentation around the archway outside the east side of the California Quadrangle.
Elaborate ornamentation around the archway outside the east side of the California Quadrangle.
Colorful dome tiles, part of the Spanish Colonial Revival masterpiece of exposition architect Bertram Goodhue.
Colorful dome tiles, part of the Spanish Colonial Revival masterpiece of exposition architect Bertram Goodhue.

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Ornate facade of haunted Horton Grand Hotel.

ornate facade of horton grand hotel

A registered National Historic Place, the Horton Grand Hotel in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is a true architectural treasure. It’s ornate Italianate Victorian facade is based on the famous Innsbruck Inn in Vienna, Austria.

Today’s boutique hotel is a modern restoration of two historic buildings, the Grand Horton, built in 1887, and the Brooklyn Kahle Saddlery. The latter was the residence of Wyatt Earp during the years he lived in San Diego.

The Horton Grand has another interesting distinction. Room 309 is said to be haunted by the ghost of Roger Whitaker, a gambler who was shot dead by a man he cheated in a game of poker. Many guests who’ve stayed in this room have reported objects changing position when they are asleep!

Is that strange, glaring, long-bearded figure in the corner of this photo a vengeful ghost? I hope he didn’t follow me home!

Entrance to elegant Horton Grand hotel in the Gaslamp.
Entrance to elegant Horton Grand hotel in the Gaslamp.
Another wing of the historic hotel.
Another wing of the historic hotel.
The inside courtyard used to be outside!
The inside courtyard used to be outside!
A closer examination of architectural detail.
A closer examination of architectural detail.
The Horton Grand Hotel stands in downtown San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter.
The Horton Grand Hotel stands in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.