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San Diego Museums

San Diego Museums Overview

San Diego

San Diego Museums include Balboa Park, California Surf Museum, San Diego Children's Discovery Museum, Flying Leathernecks Museum, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Automotive Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, Whaley House Museum, U.S.S. Midway Museum, San Diego Maritime Museum, Julian Pioneer Museum, Pacific Southwest Railway Museum and Gaskill Brothers Stone Store Museum. From Oceanside to Downtown San Diego and Ramona to Campo, discover an interesting museum in San Diego.

North County Museums

California Surf Museum is located off Interstate 5 from Mission Avenue. Situated up the street from the Oceanside Pier, it hosts exhibits and events focused on the California surf scene. Exhibits include surfboards, photography, wetsuits, skateboards and more.

California Surf Museum
312 Pier View Way
Oceanside, CA 92054
(760) 721-6876

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Oceanside Museum of Art is located off Interstate 5 from Mission Avenue. Situated up the street from the Oceanside Pier, it hosts traditional landscape paintings and botanical photographs to neon sculpture, art quilts and assemblage. Galleries are redesigned for each exhibit, surprising visitors with a fresh, exciting visual transformation for every show. It presents 4 to 5 major exhibitions and 8 to 12 rotating exhibitions per year with more than 4,500 square feet of exhibition space.

Oceanside Museum of Art
704 Pier View Way
Oceanside, CA 92054
(760) 435-3720

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Museum of Making Music is located off Interstate 5 from Palomar Airport Road. Situated in a business complex across from Legoland Amusement Park, MOMM hosts exhibits and events focused on the musical arts. Exhibits include historical artifacts, vintage instruments, audio clips, photographs and more. Concerts feature renowned national and international musicians in a addition to local talent.

Museum of Making Music
5790 Armada Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 438-5996

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Museum is located off Interstate 15 from Mission Road. They showcase gems, minerals, geology, paleontology and lapidary arts. They have it all from Apatite to Zircon and the world-renowned Tourmaline that comes from local San Diego mines. The gift shop sells fine jewelry, polished stones and raw specimens.

Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Museum
123 West Alvarado Street
Fallbrook, CA 92028
(760) 728-1130

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Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum is located off Highway 78 from N. Santa Fe Avenue. They collect, preserve and display engines and machinery from the early American farm industry. Exhibits include a blacksmith shop, farmhouse, gas engines, steam engines, short track railroad, weaving looms and tractors.

Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum
2040 North Santa Fe Avenue
Vista, CA 92083
(760) 941-1791

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


San Diego Children's Discovery Museum is located off Interstate 15 from Valley Parkway. Situated in Downtown Escondido, they feature interactive learning exhibits including the Explorer Discovery Sailboat, Imagination Playground, Light Table, Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That's Sensation Station and more.

San Diego Children's Discovery Museum
320 North Broadway
Escondido, CA 92025
(760) 233-7755

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


San Dieguito Heritage Museum is located off Interstate 5 from either Leucadia or Encinitas Boulevards. Situated in a refurbished ranch house, they preserve artifacts, records and stories pertaining to the history of the San Dieguito River region of North San Diego County. Everything from early Native Americans and ranchers to the surf and skateboard cultures is represented.

San Dieguito Heritage Museum
450 Quail Gardens Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 632-9711

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Flying Leathernecks Museum is located from either Interstate 15 or 805 from Miramar Road. Situated at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, they feature an outdoor area with over a dozen vintage aircraft and an indoor museum containing Marine Corps memorabilia and artifacts. War birds include the A-4, F18, MiG-15, Corsair, Wildcat, Sikorsky Sea Stallion, Cobra helicopter and more.

Flying Leathernecks Museum
T-4203 Anderson Avenue
Miramar, CA 92145
(877) 359-8762

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Poway-Midland Railroad is located off Interstate 15 from Camino Del Norte. Situated in Old Poway Park at the Poway Depot, the Poway-Midland Railroad is dedicated to the restoration, operation and maintenance of antique railroad and trolley equipment. Rail cars on display date back to the late 1800's and include a steam locomotive, Los Angeles trolley car, San Francisco cable car, caboose, boxcar and more. Many are fully operational and offer rides around the park on weekends. The depot store sells train-related items.

Poway-Midland Railroad
14134 Midland Road
Poway, CA 92064
(858) 486-4063

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Museum of Contemporary Art is located at two locations including La Jolla and Downtown, directly across from the train station. The permanent collection includes over 3,000 pieces from the 1950's to present day. Media includes paintings, sculptures, film, photography and more. The La Jolla location resides on an ocean cliff and offers astounding views of the Pacific.

MCASD La Jolla
700 Prospect Street
La Jolla, California 92037
(858) 454-3541

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Mid-City Museums

Balboa Park Arboretum

Balboa Park is located at the Park Boulevard exit off Interstate 5 near Downtown San Diego. Balboa Park is a huge cultural & activity center with 13 museums, a city zoo, theatres, golf course, restaurants, botanical gardens and much more. Museums include the Museum of Natural History, Model Railroad Museum, Automotive Museum, Air & Space Museum, Photographic Arts Museum and many more. Many are situated in historic structures originally built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

Balboa Park
1549 El Prado
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 239-0512

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

  • Mingei International Museum is dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of art from all cultures of the world. It features toys, folk art, carvings, jewelry and much more from regions like Africa, Asia, Europe, Indonesia, Middle East and Russia.

    Mingei International Museum
    1439 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 239-0003
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) is dedicated to collecting, preserving and presenting photographs, film and video. It features more than 7,000 images from the early days of photography to modern-day digital.

    Museum of Photographic Arts
    1649 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 238-7559
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center seeks to inspire interest in science and technology with hands-on learning exhibits, a planetarium and IMAX theater. Exhibits include Tinkering Studio, Cellular Journey, Kid City, Origins in Space, Gallery of Illusions and much more.

    Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
    1875 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 238-1233
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • San Diego Air & Space Museum houses significant artifacts of air and space history and technology. It features exhibits from a 1783 hot air balloon to the SR-71 Blackhawk spy plane. San Diego was the birthplace of Naval aviation.

    San Diego Air & Space Museum
    2001 Pan American Plaza
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 234-8291
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • San Diego Art Institute (SADI) seeks to advance the visual arts through exhibition, education and outreach by showcasing visual arts from local San Diego artists. It features mediums in paint, photography, sculpture, woodworks, metalworks, textiles and more.

    San Diego Art Institute
    1439 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 236-0011
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • 1950 Mercury compliments of the San Diego Automotive Museum

    San Diego Automotive Museum features historic, exotic, fast and just plain "cool" cars, trucks and motorcycles. Exhibits include Indian Motorcycles, steam cars, woodies, low riders, hot rods, Ferraris, Steve McQueen and much more. The store is filled with rare models, clothing, books and accessories for car enthusiasts.

    San Diego Automotive Museum
    2080 Pan American Plaza
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 231-2886
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • San Diego Hall of Champions is the nation's largest multi-sport museum with three levels of sports memorabilia totaling 68,000 square feet. Exhibits cover amateur to professional sports from baseball and football to surfing and action sports. Emphasis is placed on San Diego's rich sports history. They also offer a state-of-the-art theatre and interactive media center.

    San Diego Hall of Champions
    2131 Pan American Plaza
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 234-2544
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • San Diego History Center focuses on the history of the San Diego region with a research center and exhibits. Exhibits include documents, photographs, artifacts, decorative arts, fine arts and more. Topics include the San Diego fishing fleet, aviation, film industry, Del Mar Race Track, Comic-Con and more.

    San Diego History Center
    1649 El Prado
    Suite 3
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 232-6203
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • San Diego Museum of Man (SDMoM) fucuses on the anthropology and history of man. Exhibits focus on ancient Egypt, Maya, Inuit, Anasazi, Native Californians and more. Topics include weaponry, tools, ceramics, textiles, beliefs, costumes, jewelry and more.

    San Diego Museum of Man
    1350 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 239-2001
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • San Diego Natural History Museum (theNat) details the natural history of the Earth, its inhabitants, plants, ocean and more. Exhibits include skeletons, fossils, dinosaurs, gem stones, art and more. A giant-screen theater shows nature movies like Flying Monsters, Ocean Oasis and The Last Reef.

    San Diego Natural History Museum
    1788 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 232-3821
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • San Diego Museum of Art features a collection of objects from around the world ranging from 5,000 B.C. to present day. Exhibits include paintings, prints, ceramics, metalwork and more from Europe, America, Latin America and Asia. The European collection contains paintings from the Baroque to Post-Impressionism eras. A sampling of the artists represented include O'Keefe, Dali, Matisse and many more. The Sculpture Court café serves Italian-inspired lunches.

    San Diego Museum of Art
    1450 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 232-7931
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • Timken Museum of Art features European and American fine art from local to globally renowned artists. Well-known artists represented include Goya, Rembrandt, Copley, Inness and Giambologna. Mediums include paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, textiles and more.

    Timken Museum of Art
    1500 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 239-5548
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • Veterans Museum & Memorial Center seeks to honor and perpetuate the memories of all men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Situated in the former chapel of the Naval Hospital in Balboa Park, it houses a collection of artifacts, memorabilia and papers as well as a research library. Exhibits include weapons, uniforms, photographs, communications equipment, mine-hunting gear, flight equipment, maps and more.

    Veterans Museum & Memorial Center
    2115 Park Boulevard
    San Diego, CA 92104
    (619) 239-2300
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum is the largest scale Model Railroad Museum in the U.S. SDMRM has collections of some of the first scale model trains ever built. It features over 27,000 square feet with exhibits like the world famous Tehachapi Pass, Historic San Diego and Arizona Eastern, one of the largest N'scales, O-Gauge and award-winning Toy Train Gallery.

    San Diego Model Railroad Museum
    1649 El Prado
    Suite 4
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 696-0199
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website

  • Marston House located off Interstate 5 Laurel and Washington Streets. Situated at the northwestern corner of Balboa Park, the historic Marston House is one of San Diego's finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture. This 8,500 square-foot home was built in 1905 on four acres of manicured property. Visitors are welcome to tour the home.

    Marston House
    3525 7th Avenue
    San Diego, CA 92103
    (619) 232-6203
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website


Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego is located off Interstate 5 south of Interstate 8 in San Diego. The park recreates life in San Diego from 1821 to 1872. Features include original adobe structures, a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, stable with carriage collection and a mansion built around a garden courtyard. Some of San Diego's best Mexican restaurants are located within the park. The most haunted house in the United States is also located within the park and tours are offered, both day and night. There is no entrance fee into the park. A MetroLink station is located behind the park offering easy and affordable access to other popular regions of San Diego.

Old Town State Park
1 San Diego Avenue
San Diego, California 92110
(619) 220-5422

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

  • Wells Fargo History Museum is located in Old Town San Diego at the intersection of Interstates 5 and 8. Situated in recreated Wells Fargo Agent's office, it features historically correct furnishings, an original Concoard Coach, history painting of 1855 San Diego, an historic pocket watch and telegraph machines.

    Wells Fargo History Museum
    2733 San Diego Avenue
    San Diego, CA 92110
    (619) 238-3929
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

  • Whaley House

    Whaley House Museum is located in Old Town San Diego and is widely considered to be the most haunted house in the United States. Originally constructed in 1857, it has served as a private residence, general store, theatre, government meeting place and today as a tourist attraction. Ghosts are thought to be of several different sources including "Yankee Jim" who was hanged on the property in 1852, the suicide of Violet Whaley in 1885, Thomas Whaley himself and even Dolly Varden, the Whaley's pet terrier. Tours are held daily, both day and night.

    Whaley House Museum
    2476 San Diego Avenue
    San Diego, CA 92110
    (619) 297-7511
    Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

  • William B. Kolender San Diego County Sheriff's Museum is located in Old Town San Diego and features a mock crime scene, jail cell, courtroom, weapons, badges, memorials, photographs and more.

    William B. Kolender San Diego County Sheriff's Museum
    2384 San Diego Avenue
    San Diego, CA 92110
    (619) 260-1850
    Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Downtown San Diego Museums

San Diego Maritime Museum is located off Interstate 5 in the San Diego Harbor. In addition to marine artifacts, it also features several tall ships, an historic paddle boat and a cold-war era, soviet submarine. The H.M.S. Surprise was the tall ship used to film the movie Master and Commander starring Russell Crow. Reservations can be made in advance to sail the harbor on some of the tall ships.

San Diego Maritime Museum
1492 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 234-9153

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


U.S.S.Midway

USS Midway Aircraft Carrier is located off Interstate 5 in the San Diego Harbor just south of Broadway. The USS Midway is a retired naval aircraft carrier that served in combat from WWII to Desert Storm. Not only is this a full tour of a hugh naval vessel but multiple fighter aircraft are part of the exhibit as well. The Fantail café serves at the aft of the ship. Several WWII Memorials are located along the Marina Walk surrounding the ship including Taffy III, one of the most heroic and decisive Naval battles of WWII.

Blog See our blog on the USS Midway Museum.

U.S.S. Midway Museum
910 N. Harbor Drive
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 544-9600

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William Heath Davis House is located at Island and 4th Avenues in the Gaslamp Quarter. The 1850's home is a prefabricated 'salt box' that was manufactured on the east coast and shipped around Cape Horn to be assembled in San Diego. Davis is considered to be the founder of San Diego where he purchased a large amount of property and constructed several of these homes as income properties. For a brief period, Alonzo and Sarah Horton rented the home from Davis. The Horton's are accredited with the vision and know how to grow San Diego into a bustling metropolis. Today, the Davis House is the oldest wooden structure in San Diego and welcomes visitors to step inside for a tour of the home.

William Heath Davis House
410 Island Avenue
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 233-4692

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Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art is located at two locations including La Jolla and Downtown, directly across from the train station. The permanent collection includes over 3,000 pieces from the 1950's to present day. Media includes paintings, sculptures, film, photography and more. The La Jolla location resides on an ocean cliff and offers astounding views of the Pacific.

MCASD Downtown
1100 Kettner Boulevard
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 814-4670

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Junipero Serra Museum is located off Interstate 8 at Taylor Street. It was built in 1929 to showcase San Diego's history and pay tribute to Padre Junipero Serra who established San Diego's first Spanish Mission in 1769. Built using Spanish Revival architecture to resemble the early missions and towering atop a hill in Presidio Park, it's often mistaken for the San Diego Mission.

Junipero Serra Museum
2727 Presidio Drive
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 232-6203

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San Diego Firehouse Museum

San Diego Firehouse Museum is located off Interstate 5 in the Little Italy section of Downtown San Diego, at the corner of Columbia and Cedar Streets. Situated in the former Fire Station No. 6, it features vintage fire trucks and fire-fighting gear. Visitors are welcome to climb aboard some of the vehicles for fireman's perspective. Memorabilia and tributes are displayed throughout the building. It's also available for private party events.

San Diego Firehouse Museum
1572 Columbia Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-3473

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Villa Montezuma is located off Interstate 5 at 20th and K Streets. Built in 1887, The Villa Montezuma is a pristine Victorian home showcasing the Queen Anne style of architecture. Inside one can expect to see rich woods, gold & silver embossed ceilings and one of the West's finest examples of art glass.

Villa Montezuma
1925 K Street
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 232-6203

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


The New Children's Museum is located off Interstate 5 from any of the Downtown San Diego exits. Situated across the street from the Children's Park, it's a an educational environment that fosters creativity. NCM offers galleries and hands-on studios for kids to create their own artwork. The Children's Park across the street offers a large wading pool and space to run, climb and play.

The New Children's Museum
200 West Island Avenue
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 233-8792

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Women's Museum of California is located off Interstate 5 from Broadway, near downtown. It documents the lives of outstanding women in history who have made a significant contribution to society. Recognition includes women who helped shape the Americas since the 1600's to San Diego women of today who have made a difference.

Women's Museum of California
2323 Broadway
Suite 107
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 233-7963

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Visions Art Museum is located off Interstate 5 from Rosecrans Street. Situated near the San Diego Airport, it features contemporary quilts and textiles as fine art.

Visions Art Museum
2825 Dewey Road
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 546-4872

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


East County Museums

Guy B. Woodward Museum is located off Highway 78 in Ramona. It showcases early Western culture in a complex of historic buildings including the Verlaque House, shops, antique exhibits and artifacts. Artifacts include antique furniture, tools, mining equipment, photos, toys, newspapers and more.

Guy B. Woodward Museum
645 Main Street
Ramona, CA 92065
(760) 789-7644

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Classic Rotors Museum is located off Highway 67 from Montecito Road. Situated at the Ramona Airport, it features the world's largest collection of airworthy historic helicopters. Over 45 historic helicopters are on display.

Classic Rotors Museum
Ramona Airport
2690 Montecito Road
Ramona, CA 92065
(760) 650-9257

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Julian Pioneer Museum is located off Highway 78/79 in the quaint little town of Julian. It's situated in an 1800's building and features exhibits of nineteenth-century clothing, household furnishings, gold mining artifacts, Victorian-era pianos, city buggy and Indian artifacts. An adjacent park offers picnic tables shaded by mature oak trees. Farther down 4th Street is the historic Julian Jail.

Julian Pioneer Museum
2811 Washington Street
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 765-0227

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Museums in Border Cities

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum is located in both Campo and La Mesa. The main location is in Campo where there is a museum and they offer train rides on historic railcars. It features over 80 pieces of equipment including steam locomotives, passenger cars, freight car and cabooses. The La Mesa Depot features a period freight train, steam locomotive, refrigerator car and caboose.

Pacific Southwest Railway
La Mesa Depot
4695 Nebo Drive
La Mesa, CA 91941
(619) 465-7776

Pacific Southwest Railway
Campo Depot
Highway 94 & Forrest Gate Road
Campo, CA 91906
(619) 478-9937

La Mesa Map  |   Campo Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Gaskill Brothers Stone Store Museum is located off Highway 95 south of Interstate 8. Situated within 2 miles of the Mexican border, this historic stone structure was the result of a raid by border bandits on the Gaskill brothers store by border bandits in 1875. It also served as Camp Lockett, a military outpost created to protect the southern frontier. The Campo Store is a California Registered Historical Landmark.

Gaskill Brothers' Stone Store Museum
31130 Highway 94
Campo, CA 91906
(619) 478-5707

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Motor Transport Museum is located off Highway 95 south of Interstate 8. Situated inside the historic Campo Feldspar Mill, it houses more than 200 motor transport vehicles and industrial equipment. The collection includes old belt drive machinery, single cylinder engines, quarry mining equipment, olive presses and a custom-made Model A log splitter. Commercial trucks include Mack, International, Autocar, White, Federal, Nash, Linn and more.

Motor Transport Museum
31949 Highway 94
Campo, CA 91906
(619) 478-2492

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


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