San Diego Museums

posted in: Family Getaways | 24


San Diego has some of the best museums and galleries in California!  You will find something for everyone here. Balboa Park alone has 17 museums.

Did you know that museums are great for children? When a child sees new things they become excited about their new knowledge. Some museums take us back in time and help us understand the culture and the people better. They also help us understand things from a different perspective. Museums and galleries are full of stories and this helps us as parents to start new conversations with our children. I will never forget when I went to a museum that had an exhibit about Chinese foot binding traditions and it sparked the conversation about how some cultures think modifying some part of their body makes them more attractive. Chinese binding was a way to display status because only women from wealthy families could afford to bind their feet and not work. When we got in the car our conversation continued and we watched testimonies of women who had that done to their feet on YouTube. My children and I did not fully understand about foot binding until we went to the museum and that experience sparked an interest in us to learn more. Our son recently got his braces and after watching feet binding he said that braces is a way to modify ones teeth. I see nothing wrong with getting braces and I my self had braces but I wonder if it will always be popular or will it be looked as unnecessary and painful in the future? Maybe one day natural teeth will be considered beautiful and popular? I do think that this comparison was extreme but I’m so glad that we had that conversation and that my children are able to compare things by simply visiting a museum.


San Diego Natural History Museum

Last time when we were in San Diego we were lucky enough to see the ancient Maya exhibit. They have the coolest exhibits and events here. I wish we lived closer so we could come to the upcoming events such as the rattlesnake feeding. The Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage exhibit is probably our favorite because it is full of specimens (8 million to be exact). We love fossils, shells, plants, insects, and other specimens. As a nature enthusiast I can only dream of owning some of these. We have a nature shelf in our homeschool room and it is our favorite.

They are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Located at 1788 El Prado, Balboa Park. San Diego, CA 92101.



Maritime Museum

When you think of San Diego the first thing that comes to mind is the beach or ocean so it totally makes sense to start with one of their museums that is dedicated to ships. If you love historic ships than you’ll love this museum. Climbing on board these historic ships has you wondering how one could go around the world in one of these in such tight quarters. Since my husband and I were born in USSR it was no wonder that we enjoyed exploring the Soviet submarine B-39. We thought the ships were pretty amazing and we really enjoyed the exhibits that they had to offer. This place is very kid friendly. Hey, you could even throw a birthday party here if you would like to. How cool is that? They are open daily from 9 am until 9 pm.

Located At Star of India Wharf 1492 North Harbor Drive. San Diego, CA 92101.



USS Midway Museum

This is by far the biggest and the best Navy Museum we have ever been to. This ship is so big and it carries a large collection of aircraft and majority of these can be seen on the flight deck. If your into airplanes, you’ll love it here. What many of you may not know is that when I was in high school I took ROTC so aircrafts have always been an interest of mine. If you are planning to see this make sure you plan to spend 3 to 4 hours here. They offer so many different activities for a small fee. Peter and Elizabeth experienced the flight simulators ride.

There is a free audio tour available with headphones so that you are able to learn much more.

I enjoyed the kitchen and laundry room. I just could not imagine cooking and washing so much clothes for so many people and here I was thinking doing it for 6 people was hard work. They had these really neat iron boards there as well. It was interesting to learn about the life of those who lived and worked on an aircraft carrier.

Oh did I mention the view from flight deck? If you look down you’ll see “The Kiss” sculpture. Did you know that if someone served in WWII and got married in the war or a bit after it they can be honored by renewing their vows here.

They are opened daily from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. Make sure you arrive before 4:00 pm because they will not let you in after that and personally you need more than one hour to fully experience this ship. They are closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving. If you plan on coming here then I totally recommend you buy your tickets online because you’ll save $2 for every person in your group.

Located at 910 North Harbor Dr. San Diego, Ca 92101.


Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

This is a cross monument honoring American veterans. This memorial is different because it honors both living and deceased. The top of Mt. Soledad is the highest point in the city with an elevation of 824 feet. From here you get a great view of San Diego, La Jolla, Mission Bay, the ocean, and the mountains.

Birch Aquarium

This aquarium has 3,000 different animals with 380 different species to observe. It is smaller than some of the other aquariums but we enjoy observing the life of marine creatures so much and we find it hard to pass by an aquarium. I think our favorite exhibits are where the glass is bigger than us. We got to enjoy a large turtle swim past us. We had never seen a sunflower sea star before so it was such a treat. This star fish can have up to 24 arms.The outdoor tide pool area was our favorite because the kids love touching the star fish and the sea cucumber.

Located at 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037.

Hands on Learning: Dissecting a Squid

We love it when we get to explore low tides in real life. However, squids are something we have never seen during low tides because they love the deep waters. Squids are so speedy. They are known as “head-footed” because the end head has both arms and tentacles. They have eight arms and two tentacles. They use their two tentacles to grab their prey. They eat pretty much anything that moves and comes across them. Their sharp beak is like a parrots beak. They have large eyes and this helps them with their advanced vision. They are able to change colors and this is known as “chromatophores .” The different patterns they make is a form of language for them because that is how they communicate with each other. When a squid is frightened it releases ink from its ink gland and jets away. Did you know you can actually write with that ink?

Dissecting the squid was so fascinating. Watch the video below to see and learn more. We received the squid from Home Science Tools.


Thank you San Diego for hosting our museum experiences.

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24 Responses

  1. robin rue

    I have been to the NAT a few times and loved it. There are SO many great museums in San Diego – I can’t wait to get back to go to some of them again.

  2. Museums are perfect for visual learning, especially with the kids and I think it’s awesome that you visit as many as you can! I didn’t know that there were so many in San Diego that the kids would enjoy visiting.

  3. This looks like a lot of fun! I love visiting museums when we travel! We have never been out to Cali, but my husband’s cousin moved there so maybe when we visit him we can check this place out.

  4. What a great way to let your kids learn and discover new things!

  5. Museums are one of my favourite places to visit. There is so much to see and learn, it’s fantastic that it sparks conversations we wouldn’t otherwise have. I also wonder if Braces will become a thing of the past.

  6. I love going aboard ships like this. I have been to the USS Yorktown, a ship that my dad happened to be stationed on when he was in the Navy, and it was the coolest!

  7. I probably go to San Diego and stay at the Embarcadero area at least once a year. I have toured the aircraft carrier but missed out on all the other museums. Thanks for letting me know. I will try to visit them next time.

  8. That Maritime museum looks super cool! We went on a battleship in North Carolina a while ago, but my son wasn’t born yet, so I would love to do something like that with him now.

  9. I’ve never been to San Diego but it is def on my list. Can’t wait to go

  10. Krystal Butherus

    What a great time for the family! 17 museums in one area, what an awesome thing to be able to go to. It looks like your family had a great time, especially the kids.

  11. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to San Diego. My husband would love all the the battleship things. My kids would LOVE to be able to dissect a squid. It looks so fascinating!

  12. San Diego is one of my favorite places in California. These museums looks incredible and will have to remember these next time we visit!

  13. I’m a true sucker for a great museum. Visiting them always make my inner Nerd Girl jump for joy. I will have to remember to visit these if I should ever be in San Diego.

  14. I’ve never fully explored San Diego and it would be awesome to start with the museums! There’s plenty of things to learn there, and it’s going to make our visit memorable.

  15. Those are some great museums I am sorry I don’t live near there. The Natural History Museum and the views from that memorial are amazing. It is great to get the kids involved and learning.

  16. first of all, I love san diego! the museum looks like such a great activity to do with your family.

  17. We are planning a trip to San Diego this summer. I hope we get to see these same museums!

  18. I love San Diego, although I’ve only been there once. It was for work so we didn’t get to explore as much of the city as I would have liked, but what we did see was so beautiful. Plus, you really can’t beat the weather.

  19. I love how Balboa Park alone has 17 museums alone and I agree that museums are great for children. I find museums fascinating still as an adult and I love the sound of the Natural History Museum!

  20. San Diego sounds like it has some really wonderful culture and museums to visit. I hope to get to see them one day!

  21. We have gone to San Diego but we have never gone to any of the museums. I didn’t know about them so thanks for the reviews!

  22. Angela Ricardo Bethea

    That San Diego museum looks so fantastic! Going to museums like this is very enlightening to mind and soul. Perfect place for curious and adventurous kids.

  23. How fun! My family and I love going to museums. We’ll have to keep this one in mind if we’re ever in San Diego.

  24. We visit San Diego very frequently and have been to many of the aquariums you have noted here. AWESOME! My daughter dissected her first squid at the Birch Aquarium too.

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