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20 Best Museums in San Diego, California


If you’re in search of an attention-grabbing and academic time out, San Diego’s museums are an ideal choice. From the world-famous San Diego Zoo to the fascinating Maritime Museum, there’s one thing to please everybody on this metropolis. Here are the most effective museums in San Diego that you just gained’t need to miss.

There are additionally many museums in San Diego which are price visiting. So whether or not you’re keen on historical past, artwork, or science, you’ll you’ll want to discover one thing that pursuits you from the highest museums on the town.

Best Museums in San Diego, California

If you might be in search of enjoyable and attention-grabbing galleries, zoos, and museums in San Diego, look no additional than these high choices.

1. San Diego Zoo

Red Panda in San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is likely one of the hottest vacationer sights within the space, and it’s simple to see why. I do know it’s not your conventional “museum.” But the San Diego Zoo is so extremely spectacular that it’s half zoo and half museum.

Home to over 3,700 animals representing greater than 660 species, the San Diego Zoo is likely one of the largest zoos on the planet. Visitors can see every thing from tigers and elephants to koalas and kangaroos, and there are additionally loads of academic alternatives.

You can get a 1-day admission ticket or 2-day entry ticket on-line.

2. USS Midway Museum

If you’re in search of an unusual museum to go to in San Diego, the USS Midway Museum is certainly price testing.

Docked on the Navy Pier close to downtown, this huge plane service was the US Navy’s longest-serving plane service within the twentieth Century, and it now serves as a marine museum on the San Diego Embarcadero.

USS MIdway Museum admission features a narration by previous naval officers, which supplies you an inside take a look at what life was like on board the ship. The former crew members readily available can share private tales and reply any questions you may need. It’s a very distinctive expertise that you just gained’t discover wherever else.

You’ll get to see the sleeping quarters, kitchens, and engines, throughout 60 displays and even take a stroll on the flight deck or take a look at out some Navy flight simulators!

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

3. Maritime Museum of San Diego

If you’re keen on maritime historical past, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is a must-visit. Located in San Diego Bay the museum has displays on every thing from piracy and privateering to shipwrecks and coastal exploration.

It additionally preserves one of many nation’s largest collections of historic ships, together with old style steam-powered boats, and the magnificent historic tall ship, the Star of India.

You can even study in regards to the historical past of the Star of India itself, which is the world’s oldest lively crusing ship. The Maritime Museum of San Diego is a good place to study in regards to the wealthy historical past of crusing the ocean and its impression on our world.

4. The San Diego Model Railroad Museum

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is likely one of the largest mannequin railroads on the planet, full with a working mannequin of San Diego. This is likely one of the greatest San Diego museums for youths and for good cause.

It was first opened in 1984 and has since been house to quite a lot of prepare lovers, skilled railroaders, and children in search of one thing new to do.

It’s simple to get misplaced on this museum—there are tons of trains working without delay! There are additionally loads of interactive shows for guests who need to study extra in regards to the historical past behind trains and the way they had been constructed.

Plus, when you’re fortunate sufficient (or unfortunate!) sufficient to go to throughout their annual Rail Fest occasion every June or July, you’ll see much more motion on show as locomotives come alive with lights and sounds!

The better part is with the ability to take footage with all these trains round you—you’ll be able to pose with something from Amtrak locomotives to steam engines straight outta Westworld. This place is a alternative time out for the whole household!

See Related: Most Exotic Places in California to Visit

5. San Diego Natural History Museum

San Diego’s NAT, also called the San Diego Natural History Museum, is widespread amongst native kids. It’s a neighborhood favourite for youths and whilst they mature these displays convey again fond reminiscences.

Highlights embody “Al” the allosaurus forged within the corridor, the second-floor seek for fossils, Foucaultian Pendulum drawing skulls on the large chalkboard, movies on the massive chalkboard, and rather more.

I had the prospect to go to the NAT and see the over eight million specimens they use to watch the shifts inside our area.

The San Diego Natural History Museum is a good place to study in regards to the modifications in the environment and the way they’ve affected San Diego particularly get your admission ticket now.

I might undoubtedly advocate it to anybody keen on studying extra about San Diego or pure historical past generally!

6. San Diego Air and Space Museum

San Diego Air and Space Museum Building

San Diego is a beautiful city with lots to do, and top-of-the-line locations to go is the San Diego Air and Space Museum and gawp at outdated airplanes.

The museum homes a number of historic and duplicate plane and spacecraft, in addition to a Max Flight simulator that permits you to take an aerial journey at full velocity. You can even watch movies in Zeal Theatre or discover the museum’s displays on the historical past of plane journey.

The museum additionally options artifacts from Charles Lindbergh, the Wright brothers, and different pioneers of aviation. So when you’re keen on studying extra in regards to the historical past of air journey or simply need to see some cool airplanes, you’ll want to try the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

7. San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art is likely one of the most famed positive artwork museums on the planet. The assortment is concentrated on Spanish artworks, that includes Murillo, Zurbarán, Cotán, Riberá, and El Greco. Some of his most important works are Goyas, Rubens, Matisse, Renoir, and Van Dyck.

Pieces have been found between 5000 BCE to 2012. All exhibit paperwork can be found in English and Spanish.

The museum’s doorways are closed day by day, Monday-Friday. However, you’ll be able to nonetheless get free docent visits by strolling by way of Mays Marcy Sculpture Court and Gardens and grabbing a chew at Panama 66.

8. Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Birch Aquarium at Scripps is a part of the famend Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and it’s a must-visit for anybody keen on studying in regards to the world’s oceans and the creatures that dwell in them.

With greater than 60 tanks containing over 5,000 animals, Birch Aquarium explores analysis discoveries from Scripps oceanographers in an thrilling and fascinating approach.

The Birch Aquarium expertise is ideal for vacationers of all ages who need to rise up shut and private with a number of the most fascinating creatures on the planet. So you’ll want to add Birch Aquarium to your listing of things to do while you’re in San Diego – you gained’t remorse it!

Access different sights in San Diego together with Birch Aquarium by getting San Diego Go City All-Inclusive Pass.

See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA

9. Mingei International Museum

The Mingei International Museum is a hidden gem in San Diego. Dedicated to the artwork of on a regular basis objects, it showcases a rotating number of exhibitions that includes conventional people artwork from all around the world.

From handcrafted pottery to intricately carved wooden sculptures, the Mingei International Museum is a must-see for anybody keen on international cultures and artwork historical past.

And with a handy location in Balboa Park, it’s the right place to whereas away a day whereas exploring all that San Diego has to supply. So subsequent time you’re on the town, you’ll want to add the Mingei International Museum to your listing of must-see sights.

10. Museum of Photographic Arts

If you’re a images lover, the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park is certainly price a go to. This nationwide museum focuses completely on images, movie, and video, and homes a powerful assortment of greater than 5,000 photographic footage.

You’ll additionally discover numerous modern artworks on show. In addition to the exhibitions, the Joan & Irwin Jacks Theatre presents movies, movie premieres, and documentaries.

And if you wish to do a little analysis, the Edmund & Nancy Dubois Library has practically 2,000 books for guests to browse and discover. Note that the museum operates on a pay-per-admission foundation.

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11. The New Children’s Museum

The New Children’s Museum in San Diego (initially situated in La Jolla) is a good place to take your youngsters whilst you’re visiting the world. The museum believes in studying by way of play and creative play, and so they have a couple of totally different areas the place kids can discover and specific their creativity.

The sketch aquarium is a room the place kids can draw fish on paper and see their faces on the display. The marvel sound labyrinth is a room or area of interest the place kids can uncover totally different sounds.

The New Children’s Museum is conveniently situated near widespread downtown San Diego accommodations, so it’s simple to incorporate in your journey plans.

While La Jolla was an ideal location beforehand as effectively, this now affords an ideal expertise for brand new vacationers and San Diego County residents. Plus, it’s a good way to go to the San Diego space with kids since they’re certain to have a blast on the museum.

See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in California to Visit

12. Fleet Science Center

The Fleet Science Center is a world-renowned science museum in Balboa Park. Featuring dozens of interactive displays and academic actions, the Fleet Science Center is a good place for youths and adults alike to find out about science.

One of the preferred displays on the Fleet Science Center is So Watt, which demonstrates how electrical energy might be generated right here in San Diego. Children may also love exploring the textures, shapes, and motions in Children’s City, an enticing playroom designed only for them.

And for folks with infants, there are additionally some toddler playrooms. In addition to everlasting displays, the Fleet Science Center additionally hosts momentary exhibitions.

Adults aren’t excluded from this expertise, particularly throughout Fleet particular occasions. Whether you’re a neighborhood or a traveler, you’ll want to try the Fleet Science Center for an unforgettable expertise.

13. Whaley House Museum

The Whaley House Museum is a must-see for anybody within the historical past of San Diego. The museum is housed in what was as soon as town’s largest public market, and it now comprises numerous displays from town’s early days.

It’s additionally supposedly the most haunted home within the nation!

You’ll study in regards to the metropolis’s first mayor, its first newspaper, and even its first jail. The museum additionally has numerous interactive displays, so you may get a really feel for what life was like in early San Diego.

If you’re within the historical past of California, or when you simply need to study extra in regards to the metropolis you’re visiting, you’ll want to try the Whaley House Museum.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Long Beach, California

14. Museum of Us

San Diego is house to numerous museums dedicated to totally different features of human historical past and tradition, however the San Diego Museum of Us (previously often called the San Diego Museum of Man) is likely one of the most complete.

This anthropology museum covers every thing from historic civilizations to modern-day cultures, with displays on every thing in between.

The Museum of Us is a good place to study in regards to the numerous cultures that make up the material of America proper within the coronary heart of Balboa Park. The museum has an in depth assortment of artifacts and displays that supply a glimpse into the lives of individuals from all walks of life.

The Museum of Us can also be house to numerous interactive shows and galleries which are good for youths and adults alike.

Whether you’re keen on studying in regards to the historical past of beer brewing in America or exploring mummy stays from historic Egypt, there’s one thing for everybody on the Museum of Us.

There’s additionally a planetarium onsite, making this an ideal choice for a wet day. In addition to the great displays, the San Diego Museum of Us additionally affords numerous academic applications and occasions.

These embody lessons on every thing from cooking to artwork, in addition to particular occasions like movie screenings and lectures.

Whether you’re keen on studying in regards to the historical past of humankind or simply in search of a spot to spend a wet day, the San Diego Museum of Us is bound to have one thing for you.

15. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego – Downtown

The Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego is situated at 1001 Kettner Boulevard.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) affords quite a lot of exhibitions all year long, together with works from native artists in addition to worldwide artists who make their approach out west to be featured at MCASD.

On high of this, additionally they host quite a few occasions reminiscent of movie screenings and performances by musicians who will blow your thoughts! If you’re keen on studying extra about artwork historical past then try certainly one of their academic applications; there would possibly even be one thing occurring throughout your journey.

Visitors have raved about how a lot enjoyable this museum is – except for having the ability “to stroll round freely” with out feeling crowded like different main sights are likely to do, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego offers an expertise that’s completely totally different from the rest.

See Related: Best Breweries in San Diego, California

16. Oceanside Museum of Art

Oceanside is about 40 minutes from San Diego correct. It’s a small town with a number of coronary heart, and that’s mirrored within the Oceanside Museum of Art. This museum is full of nice artwork, starting from trendy to modern works.

You can count on quite a lot of kinds and material, relying on the exhibit at present on show. And when you want a break from all of the indoor looking, there’s additionally a stunning backyard space outdoors the place you’ll be able to take pleasure in some peace and serenity whereas taking within the paintings on show.

The OMA has hosted some main reveals over its historical past, together with an exhibit honoring late painter Alice Neel in 2012 that featured greater than 20 items of her work.

The OMA’s everlasting assortment has two dozen items by well-known artists like Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko; these are displayed all through the galleries together with different works by artists who’ve been proven at OMA prior to now.

17. The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College

The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College is a fantastic, peaceable oasis that’s good for a day journey or might be integrated into an extended hike by way of the close by trails.

The backyard options an array of vegetation and flowers, every chosen for its potential to thrive in Southern California’s dry local weather. It additionally has a number of interpretive indicators that specify how the backyard works and the way you need to use it to water your individual vegetation at house.

The Water Conservation Garden is about half-hour drive from downtown San Diego.

Depending on how briskly/gradual site visitors goes alongside route 101 whereas driving north away from downtown in the direction of Ramona/El Cajon areas through the I-15 freeway system close to intersection factors alongside Highway 52 junction level close to Miramar Marine Corps Base.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Point Loma, San Diego

18. Cabrillo National Monument

If you’re in search of a spot with somewhat little bit of historical past and nature, Cabrillo National Monument is the right spot. This shouldn’t be a proper museum as you’d count on but it surely’s nonetheless an ideal expertise for historical past in certainly one of San Diego’s most picturesque areas.

Located on the tip of Point Loma, this nationwide monument commemorates Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s touchdown in 1542 and options a fantastic view overlooking San Diego Bay.

If you’d relatively get your kicks by mountaineering than whale watching, then head over to Cabrillo National Monument.

It’s a straightforward hike that may lead you as much as an unbelievable panoramic view of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. There’s additionally free admission provided that it’s extra of a monument relatively than a full museum.

If you’ve bought some additional time in your arms, try their web site for extra details about different issues to do (and locations to eat) whereas visiting this wonderful park in San Diego.

19. San Diego History Center

Found within the coronary heart of Balboa Park, the San Diego History Center paperwork and shows the fascinating historical past of the San Diego space.

This museum is especially well-known for its intensive analysis library, in addition to a group of over 2.5 million images, documenting San Diego’s storied historical past.

The middle is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free, however donations are most welcome.

The San Diego History Center additionally administers and operates the Junípero Serra Museum, situated throughout city within the outdated historic middle.

This iconic regional landmark is likely one of the most important historic websites and cultural establishments in California as it’s discovered on the website of the primary everlasting European settlement in what’s now California.

See Related: Do you Need a car in San Diego? Things to Know

20. Timken Museum of Art

Didn’t get your full repair of positive artwork in San Diego? Worry not! The Timken Museum of Art ought to be capable to scratch that itch.

This is one other terrific museum that you will discover proper within the coronary heart of Balboa Park. Although one thing of a small museum in comparison with others on this listing, the Timken Museum hosts a staggering quantity of basic work and different examples of positive artwork.

They at present protect the Putnam Collection of European outdated masters, and examples of American and Russian artwork. They additionally host displays on trendy and native artwork and jewellery, advert maintain many artwork talks and rotating exhibitions all year long.

Final Thoughts

With so many nice San Diego museums to select from, you’ll undoubtedly need to add a few of these to your listing when planning a visit to the crown jewel of Southern California, San Diego. Whether you’re keen on historical past, artwork, or science, there’s certain to be a museum that’s good for you.

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FAQ

What are the most effective artwork museums in San Diego, California?

The San Diego Museum of Art is a must-see for artwork lovers in San Diego. The famend establishment is acknowledged for housing a lot of Asia’s biggest artwork collections, together with works from Spain.

What are the most effective museums for historic historical past in San Diego, California?

The San Diego Natural History Museum is the best location to study extra in regards to the pure historical past of San Diego. The Fossil Mysteries interactive museum, which is certainly one of Southern California’s oldest scientific establishments, focuses on the area’s prehistoric historical past.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego comprises quite a lot of ships from numerous nations and eras, together with US and European vessels.

What is the most effective trendy artwork museum in San Diego, California?

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is a up to date artwork museum with two places in San Diego, California.

The principal museum is situated within the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, and a department museum is situated in downtown San Diego. The museum was based in 1941 because the San Diego Art Institute.

Where are the most effective museums in San Diego, California?

You can discover an enormous quantity of San Diego’s greatest museums in and round Balboa Park. There are a complete of 17 museums and cultural facilities to be present in and round Balboa Park.

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