Best of Balboa Park

Lots of nice little changes hide behind those venerable façades

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In the San Diego Museum of Art, don't miss the new Museum Store's vast collection of books, gifts, and original jewelry. 1450 El Prado; 696-1971 or 232-7931.

Adjacent to the Organ Pavilion, you can now sample teas from around the world or have a light sushi lunch on the Japanese Friendship Garden's cheery Tea Pavilion patio. Although the setting is a little stark, umbrellas cozy it up, and the view into the canyon's treetops can be quite pleasant. 2215 Pan American Way; 232-2721.

There's more, of course. The park seems to be holding its breath in anticipation of the grand opening of the San Diego Natural History Museum's new wing and giant-screen theater, scheduled to open in April. But that's for another visit.

Free parking in lots along Presidents Way, off Park Blvd. Balboa Park Visitors Center, inside the House of Hospitality on El Prado: (619) 239-0512 or www.balboapark.org.

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