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Museum Guide for San Diego

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San Diego’s biggest claim to fame may be its practically perfect weather, but while your swimsuit is drying out, be sure to pop round to a few of these world class museums.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover

9 Places

3 City Tips

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9 Places

Maritime Museum of San Diego

Ships, Specialty Museums

USS Midway Museum

Specialty Museums

San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

History Museums

Mingei International Museum

Specialty Museums

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Specialty Museums

Spanish Village Art Center

Art Galleries

Sheriff's Museum

Specialty Museums

Stuart Collection

Specialty Museums

Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

Specialty Museums

Chris O's City Tips

  • Coming from a less sunny clime? Don’t underestimate the power of the southern California sun. Grab your hat, sunscreen, and bottle of water.
  • Don’t leave town without trying a fish taco. Ask a local for a favorite taqueria. Ask two locals at the same time for a ferociously heated debate.
  • You’ll most likely need your own car to make the most of your time in San Diego. However, the San Diego Commute website is a great resource for public transportation options.
  • Save
    Maritime Museum of San Diego
    Ships, Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This must-see destination is home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Labor Day weekend is an especially great time to visit. That’s when the Festival of Sail is on!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #27 of 465 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • So much to see and enjoy 08/09/2018
    • Had a GREAT time.. a must see ! 08/06/2018
    • Maritime Museum of San Diego
    Address:
    1492 N Harbor Dr
    San Diego, CA 92101-3309
    Phone:
    +1 619-234-9153
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 9:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    USS Midway Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Climb aboard this ginormous decommissioned aircraft carrier to learn about life at sea, get an up-close look at an impressive collection of close to 30 restored aircraft, and have a go in one of the flight simulators.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The museum is open 10am to 5pm daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    • Last admission is at 4pm.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 465 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing time and extremely helpful staff 08/13/2018
    • Fun time and the kids learned something too! 08/13/2018
    • USS Midway Museum
    Address:
    910 N Harbor Drive
    San Diego, CA 92101-5811
    Phone:
    +1 619-544-9600
    Price range:
    US$23 - US$23
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This museum is part of an eight-block historic Chinatown district, where Chinese immigrants first formed a community in the 1860s. It focuses on illustrating the story of the Chinese American experience through photographs, artifacts, artwork, and educational materials.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • San Diego's Chinatown partially overlaps with the Gaslamp Quarter Historic District, which is definitely also worth a look around.
    • The museum is one of 22 structures in this area that are historically relevant to San Diego's Chinese community.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #203 of 465 things to do in San Diego
    • Great overview of San Diego Chinese history and a stunning art exhibit across the street 07/01/2018
    • Small but interesting. 05/06/2018
    • San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
    Address:
    404 3rd Ave
    San Diego, CA 92101-6803
    Phone:
    +1 619-338-9888
    Other:
  • Save
    Mingei International Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Located within Balboa Park, the Mingei is a non-profit institution collecting, conserving, and exhibiting folk art and crafts from around the world.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Closed Mondays.
    • Located in the expansive Balboa Park, home to a number of other museums and attractions.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #108 of 465 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Star is Closing for 1 Year (Sept.1, 2018 - ?) 08/08/2018
    • A nothing sandwich 06/07/2018
    • Mingei International Museum
    Address:
    1439 El Prado
    Balboa Park
    San Diego, CA 92101-1617
    Phone:
    +1 619-239-0003
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    San Diego Model Railroad Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Home to the largest indoor model railroad on the continent (among the largest in the world!), this is a brilliant place for the little ones and the young at heart.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Find this fun museum on the lower level of the Casa de Balboa, one of the many pretty buildings on the Prado walkway in Balboa Park.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #58 of 465 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Awesome - better than I expected. 08/12/2018
    • Kind of "cheezy", but I really like this little museum 08/11/2018
    • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
    Address:
    1649 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101-1621
    Phone:
    +1 619-696-0199
    Hours:
    Tue - Fri
    11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Sat - Sun
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Spanish Village Art Center
    Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    A visit to the Spanish Village Art Center is an opportunity to meet more than 200 artists and craftspeople, who are happily at work in this beautiful, intimate setting.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Most studios are open daily from 10am to 4 or 5pm, except major holidays.
    • Located in Balboa Park.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #65 of 465 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Cute and Quaint! 08/09/2018
    • Lovely 06/26/2018
    • Spanish Village Art Center
    Address:
    1770 Village Pl
    Balboa Park
    San Diego, CA 92101-1651
    Phone:
    +1 619-233-9050
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Sheriff's Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The aim of the William B Kolander Sheriff’s Museum in Old Town San Diego is to preserve and promote the history of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Ever wondered what it would be like to sit in the back of a police car or to be locked up behind bars (but don't want to get in trouble with the law just to find out)? Here’s your chance.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The vintage cop cars alone make this museum worth a visit!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #87 of 465 things to do in San Diego
    • Lots of fun 06/16/2018
    • Interesting Museum 04/02/2018
    • Sheriff's Museum
    Address:
    2384 San Diego Ave
    Old Town
    San Diego, CA 92110-2834
    Phone:
    +1 619-260-1850
    Hours:
    Wed - Sun
    12:00 PM - 6:00 PM
    Other:
  • Save
    Stuart Collection
    Specialty Museums
    Chris O Says:

    Take advantage of San Diego’s great weather and culture with a stroll through the Stuart Collection’s outdoor sculpture garden. Located on the University of California - San Diego campus, the collection features works by Jenny Holzer, John Baldessari, Bruce Nauman, and more.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • A Stuart Collection app (free to download) offers an enhanced way to experience the works.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #46 of 79 things to do in La Jolla
    • Nothing like it in the world 04/29/2018
    • Campus Offers Unusual Public Art 08/25/2017
    • Stuart Collection
    Address:
    University of California, San Diego
    La Jolla, San Diego, CA
    Phone:
    +1 858-534-2117
    Other:
  • Save
    Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The Flying Leatherneck Museum is uniquely focused on preserving the interesting history of U.S. Marine Corps aviation.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The museum is open 9am to 3:30pm, every day except Monday.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #95 of 465 things to do in San Diego
    • Very Informative 08/12/2018
    • Just the right size 08/10/2018
    • Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
    Address:
    4203 Anderson Ave
    San Diego, CA 92145-0316
    Phone:
    +1 858-693-1723
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    9:00 AM - 3:30 PM
    Other:
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