Museum of Art
The San Diego Museum of Art is one of San Diego's most popular museums. A great opportunity for families to see an amazing collection of Art from all over the world. Visitors enjoy using the bilingual "Private Eye Gallery Cards" which give you a more in-depth information while you are exploring the individual artwork in the vast collection. For families, enjoy a nice lunch in the new cafe that features a children's menu and art activity place mats to keep the children entertained.
Once every three months the San Diego Museum of Art presents a free Family Festival with interactive art projects and live entertainment.
Museum of Photographic Arts
Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park was one of the first museums in the United States dedicated solely to photographic art. A recent renovation expansion allowed the museum to increase its offerings to the many visitors they see each year. The Museum always has several temporary exhibits that make the museum different on each visit and these touring exhibitions have given the Museum of Photographic Arts national recognition. More than 6,000 still photographs are part of the permanent collection. The photographs include early daguerreotypes all the way through contemporary. The Photographic Arts building contains a research library and learning center, a room to view prints, a theater and an auditorium.
Hours 10am - 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.
Admission: $6 adults, $4 students, seniors and military.
Free for children under 12.
Free admission on the second Tuesday of every month.
Directions from I-5 take the 10th Avenue exit and turn left onto A Street. Then turn left on Park Boulevard. Turn left onto Space Theater Way and go across the small bridge and park in the parking lots or on the street. The backside of the Museum of Photographic Arts is located at the end of Space Theater Way, walk around the side and you will be at the entrance.
Timken Museum of Art
Timken Museum of Art is located in Balboa Park. Open to the public with free admission, the Timken Museum of Art contains over 60 incredible European Artworks by European masters, 18th and 19th-century American art and Russian art. The Timken Museum began by two sisters, Amy and Anne Putnam who with the help of Walter Ames established the Putnam Foundation which then received funding from the Timken family to build the museum. Since the museum opened in 1965 visitors have had the opportunity to see some amazing works of art.
The small gallery has a friendly staff who are more then willing to help further your understanding of art when you ask them questions. Some of the most popular pieces in the collection are Rembrandt's St. Bartholomew and Copley's Mrs. Thomas Gage.
1500 El Prado, Balboa Park
San Diego, California 92101
Tuesday-Saturday 10am - 4:30pm
Sunday 1:30 - 4:30pm
Closed Mondays and during major holidays
Timken Museum website
Mingei International Museum
Mingei International Museum is located in the House of Charm. The Mingei International Museum has art exhibitions that include historical and contemporary art from people from cultures all over the world. Favorites of visitors to the Mingei International Museum is the vast collection and variety of Kokeshi dolls. Another popular exhibit displays origami that transforms a single sheet of paper into many shapes, flowers, people, animals and masks.
Located in Balboa Park, the Mingei International Museum is worth checking out so you can get a sense of a variety of different types of international art.
The Maritime Museum on the water near downtown San Diego is a great place to enjoy a sunny afternoon. The Maritime Museum allows visitors to mix an educational experience aboard the ships' museums with incredible scenic views of the waterway. Many sail boats provide a great backdrop for dining or walking along the sidewalk.
San San Diego Maritime Museum Tips for Visitors
The cool part of the ship museums is the variety of vessels located here in San Diego's Maritime Museum. The must-see ships at the Maritime Museum are the Star of India and the Berkeley. The Star of India is the oldest active ship in the entire world and the Berkeley is a steamboat ferry that is well over 100 years old. Additionally, tourists and locals can enter a real submarine. As part of the price of admission to the Maritime Museum you will also get a chance to board a pirate ship. One of the best museum experiences that combines a unique atmosphere and sailing education while offering a one of a kind sightseeing perspective of the sailboats on San Diego Bay.
The restaurants next to the Maritime Museum are excellent places to enjoy lunch. Offering delicious seafood and New England clam chowder while overlooking the sailboat filled water ways of San Diego Bay.
From the Maritime Museum a 25 minute walk along the water southward brings you to Seaport Village.
Star of India
The Star of India is part of the Maritime Museum in downtown San Diego. What makes the Star of India so special is that it is the world's oldest active ship. Built in 1863 the fully-rigged iron windjammer cargo ship is now a National Historic Landmark. Unlike many other restored ships, the Star of India hull, cabins, and equipment are almost completely original.
In 1966 the Star of India was designated as a National Historic Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The ship has experienced some very interesting history including 21 around the world trips, being used as a salmon trading boat in Alaska, and being a cargo ship for lumber, coal and sugar. Additionally, some Star of India ghost stories exist claiming several unfortunate sailors and passengers still haunt the ship's decks and cabins.
Presently, the ship sails at least once a year with a skilled crew of volunteers from the Maritime Museum.
The Berkeley is a steamboat ferry which is part of the Maritime Museum. The Victorian styled 1898 Berkeley operated for 60 years ferrying people around the San Francisco Bay and has been docked in the San Diego Bay since 1973. Now a California State Historic Landmark and National Historic Landmark, the Berkeley is one of San Diego's finest treasures.
As part of the Maritime Museum in downtown San Diego, the Berkeley houses the museum's offices, model shop, workshop, a maritime research library, the museum store, and a special events room for up to 800 people. The triple expansion steam engine has been fully restored so visitors can marvel at its operations. Although no longer steam powered, the system is now functional using hydraulics and compressed air.
Visitors also get to see the many full time exhibits displayed in five galleries. These five galleries reflect major themes of maritime history and how it relates to San Diego and the San Diego Bay's strategic location in the Pacific Ocean. The permanent exhibits include the Age of Sail, Age of Steam, Charting the Sea, Harvesting the Ocean, and San Diego's Navy. In addition, art exhibits relating to sailing are offered to Berkeley visitors. The art exhibits change regularly throughout the year and often involve photography.
The Berkeley's upper deck has hosted thousands of special events including weddings and corporate gatherings. Visiting the Berkeley will give you a chance to see a historic iron and steel hulled ship and one of the greatest 19th century ferryboats that is still floating in the entire world.
Natural History Museum
San Diego's Natural History Museum is located in Balboa Park. Founded by a group of citizen-naturalists in 1874, the museum continues to be an active research center and it is the second oldest scientific institution in Southern California.
The Natural History Museum has both permanent exhibits and temporary exhibits. The permanent exhibit "Fossil Mysteries" focuses on the ancient history in Southern California with real fossils that have been collected locally. The fossils from Southern California capture the history of plant life and animal life dating back 70 million years. Popular for Natural History Museum visitors are the life-size fully reconstructed exhibit of a giant shark, the complete fossil skeletons of whales and walruses, and the realistic reconstruction of a tropical forest that once existed in this area. Also worth seeing is the beautiful nature photography, fossils, and the cut-away dolphin. The information presented in the displays is written in both English and Spanish. The temporary exhibits are always interesting, like the recent ones on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Pompeii and chocolate.
The Museums exterior blends in with the historic architecture of Balaboa Park dating back to the 1930's. The newly renovated interior provides plenty of space for museum patrons to enjoy the exhibits. There is a gift shop and a snack shop located inside the museum.
San Diego Natural History Museum website
1788 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Open: 10am - 5:00pm daily
Reuben Fleet Science Center
Reuben Fleet Science Center is an educational adventure for children that will capture their full attention for the entire visit. Interactive exhibits and really cool rides open up the imagination of young visitors while teaching them scientific ideas. The popular Virtual Zone has simulator rides and virtual reality stuff that children and adults will enjoy.
The Fleet Science Center has a computer graphics planetarium simulator with shows the first Wednesday of each month at 7pm. Planetarium shows are $8.50 for adults and $7 for seniors and kids 3-12.
The world's first dome theater, a 76 foot high screen IMAX takes viewers into a completely surrounded lifelike world of whatever show is being played. Friday evenings four IMAX shows are run one after another.
1875 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Reuben Fleet Science Center website
The Fleet Experience admission includes one IMAX film show and access to the exhibit galleries. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and children 3-12. You can also purchase the exhibit gallery only for a little less. Admission is free to the exhibit galleries only during the 1st Tuesday of each month.
From Interstate 5 take the 10th Avenue Exit near downtown. Turn left onto A street at the first light. Get into one of the 2 right lanes, go past 11th Avenue and then turn left onto Park Boulevard. Go through four lights and then make a left turn at Space Theater Way and you will be in the Reuben Fleet Science Center parking lot.
San Diego Air and Space Museum
Air and Space Museum is located in Balboa Park. The most famed exhibit is an interactive exhibit called "Beyond the Pilot's Seat". The exhibit places you in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 or lets you fly an airplane through a wind tunnel. The Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park is an inexpensive way to educate yourself and your family about airplanes and flying.
The museum gives insights and information on some of the most important aspects of aviation history. From the Wright Brothers' Wright Flyer to the Space Shuttle the aerospace history is captured in this museum to the pleasure of visitors and fans of things that fly. The museum has over 65 U.S. and international aircrafts on display. Experience the Golden Age of Barnstorming, the first mail plane, aerial combat during World War I and World War II.
Air and Space Museum phone number 619-234-8291
Open daily 10am - 4pm
$6 adults, $2 children.
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego Air and Space Museum website
Museum of Man
The San Diego Museum of Man is located inside Balboa Park and takes visitors through an exploration of mankind from the beginning to the present. Visitors enjoy the exhibits that display folk art, textiles, and early man. Cultural displays also present the origins and lifestyle of humankind. Very popular among children is the Children's Discovery Center. The Children's Discovery Center allow kids to enjoy hands-on experience of ancient cultures which allows them to become part of Ancient Cultures. Most popular is the Ancient Egyptian area where children explore the mysteries of this great civilization.
1350 El Prado, 619-239-2001
Hall of Champions Sports Museum
San Diego's Hall of Champions Sports Museum is located in Balboa Park and is the center for the history of San Diego sports. In the 60,000 square foot museum visitors can see memorabilia and read stories from 42 sports including surfing, skateboarding, football, baseball and many others ranging from high school level through the professional ranks.
The Hall of Champions is the nation's largest multiple sports museum. One of the missions of the museum is to have visitors interact with the sport's world. For example, guests can call the play by play for San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn in the media center or experience what it would feel like to skateboard with legend Tony Hawk.
Address: San Diego Hall of Champions Google Map
2131 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101
Open daily from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Admission: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, military & students, $4 for children 7 – 17 yrs. old, and free for children 6 and under. Free Admission 4th Tuesday of every month.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
San Diego's Model Railroad Museum contains North America's largest operating model railroad exhibit that covers over 24,000 square feet. The scale model railroad layout is one of the coolest things to see and the attention to details of the working trains and the scenery is something everyone enjoys watching. For children there is an interactive toy train gallery.
For model railroad and model train lovers the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is a fascinating place to visit. Huge scale model railroad towns and villages are delicately set up to interact with the trains. With tunnels and bridges the many sets of trains are fun to watch as they move around the town and villages. With the interactive trains and all the incredible model railroad displays children and adults always come away smiling from the Museum.
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum has had over 3 million visitors since it opened its doors in March of 1982. The 27,000 square foot museum is the largest indoor model railroad display in the entire world. Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is easy to find and worth the visit.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum website
1649 El Prado, #121
San Diego, CA 92101
San Diego Firehouse Museum
Firehouse Museum is dedicated to firefighters nationwide. Located in Little Italy near downtown San Diego, the unique Firehouse Museum displays fire fighting equipment from all over the world. Fascinating for young children are the many pieces of historical memorabilia, some of which dates back over 100 years. Founded in 1962, the San Diego Firehouse Museum took over the vacant space left when San Diego Fire Station #6 was moved. Plenty of firefighting gear and equipment can be viewed here. The Musuem pays tribute to the fire marshals, firefighters, dispatchers, chiefs, deputy chiefs and battalions who have protected San Diego for years by answering the call of duty.
$3 adults, $2 children
San Diego Firehouse Museum website
The San Diego Firehouse Museum
1572 Columbia St,
San Diego, CA 92101