Around the world: Visiting the International Cottages in Balboa Park

The consortium of historic cottages represent 31 countries and cultures across the globe.

SD International Cottages San Diego House of Peru

The House of Peru was among the nine new cottages added to the site in 2021.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

We love exploring San Diego’s cultural gems and today, we’re raising the roof for the House of Pacific Relations (HPR) International Cottages in Balboa Park. Take the trip with us.

The present

Tucked in their own little world at 2294 Pan American Plaza, this consortium of tiny, historic structures represent 30+ countries and cultures:

  • Chamorros
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Czech + Slovak Republics
  • Denmark
  • England
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Korea
  • Lebanon
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • The Philippines
  • Poland
  • Puerto Rico
  • Scotland
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Türkiye
  • Ukraine
  • USA
SD International Cottages San Diego House of Denmark

The House of Denmark sits between the House of Sweden and the House of Norway.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Each cottage — furnished via donations and staffed by HPR member volunteers — proudly displays its country’s flag and houses educational materials and artifacts. The houses are open to the public on weekends, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and visitors can walk through each one and learn about different parts of the world.

On select weekend afternoons, the cottages take turns hosting the site’s Lawn Program, highlighting food, music, dance, clothing, arts, and crafts representing their house’s culture.

The mission of HPR and its cottages is to “promote multicultural goodwill and understanding through educational and cultural programs” — we’d say they’ve nailed it.

Did you know? The International Cottages is a fan favorite attraction at December Nights, selling food and beverages from around the globe. It’ll be up and running at this year’s event on Friday, Dec. 1, 3-11 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 2, 12-11 p.m.

SD International Cottages San Diego House of Turkiye

The House of Türkiye (aka House of Turkey) was also added in 2021.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

The past

HPR was founded in 1935 and some of its cottages were built for the city’s 1935 California Pacific Exposition. At the site’s opening ceremony 88 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to the importance of the nonprofit’s goals of promoting peaceful relations between nations.

In 2021, nine new cottages were added, making this world a whole lot bigger.

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