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The collection of over 90 museums in San Diego County reflects a broad and diverse range of interests and subjects, spanning from fine arts to transportation, from classics to contemporary and from science to natural history. San Diego’s museums collectively dedicate themselves to preserve the past, observe the present and inspire future citizens to take part and take care of our cultural, natural and historic heritage. Wherever your interest may lie, you’re sure to find a museum that will provide you with deeper insight, engagement and inspiration.

Balboa Park

Often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West," Balboa Park is the largest urban park with cultural institutions in the United States. Fifteen museums cover topics including anthropology, art, aviation, natural science and technology.

Passport to Balboa Park

If you are planning on visiting Balboa Park over the course of a few days, take advantage of the Passport to Balboa Park which includes one admission to 14 museums over 7 consecutive days. If you only have a day, visit the Visitors Center in Balboa Park for a Stay-for-the-Day pass that includes admission to 5 of the museums in one day.

Old Town San Diego

Considered the “birth place” of California, Old Town San Diego gives visitors a glimpse into colonial life in San Diego from 1821 to 1872. Mixed among award-winning restaurants and more than 100 shops are historical sites and museums, many with free admission. At the center of Old Town is the Whaley House Museum Complex, which consists of five historic buildings, the most famous of which is the Whaley House, called the number one most haunted house in the U.S. by the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted.

View a rare original stagecoach at the Wells Fargo Museum, see a scale model of nineteenth century Old Town at the reconstructed Robinson-Rose House, and tour the Black Hawk Livery & Blacksmith, the first public schoolhouse in San Diego, and Casa de Estudillo, considered one of the finest adobe haciendas in the state.

Up the hill are Heritage Park, a 7.8 acre county park where seven Victorian homes have been relocated and now house shops and bed and breakfasts, and the Serra Museum, site of California’s first mission and fort.

Museums for Children

While most of the museums are child-friendly, a few cater specifically to children. The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park brings science to life with hands-on experiments that are sure to make a child want to learn more. Also in Balboa Park you’ll find the San Diego Model Railroad Museum with an interactive Lionel layout for children. 

The New Children’s Museum in Downtown and the Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido bring art and discovery to life with fun activities, projects and play areas. Each children’s museum also has space for the littlest visitors so they can join in the fun as well.

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Living Coast Discovery Center
1000 Gunpowder Point Dr
Chula Vista, CA 91910
619.409.5900
Region: South Bay

The Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly the Chula Vista Nature Center) The Living Coast Discovery Center offers an intimate nature...

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Birch Aquarium at Scripps
2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla, CA 92093-0207
858.534.FISH
Region: La Jolla

Explore the wonders of the ocean at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Perched on a picturesque bluff in La Jolla, the aquarium features 60+ tanks of...

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Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 N Harbor Dr
San Diego, CA 92101
619.234.9153
Region: Downtown

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is housed in one of the finest collection of historic ships in the world. The iconic and majestic Star of India is...

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Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
1001 Kettner Blvd at Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
858.454.3541
Region: Downtown

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) offers access to the very best art of our time in two iconic locations. The downtown campus captures...

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Mission San Luis Rey
4050 Mission Ave
Oceanside, CA 92057
760.757.3651
Region: North County Coastal

Old Mission San Luis Rey, the "King of the Missions," is a National Historic Landmark founded in 1798 and is home to the Franciscan Friars. Old...

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Bonita Museum and Cultural Center
4355 Bonita Road
Bonita, CA 91902
619.276.5141
Region: South Bay

The Bonita Historical Society is dedicated to preserve, for public education and enjoyment, the culture, history, art, crafts, and aesthetic facets...

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Oceanside Museum of Art
704 Pier View Way
Oceanside, CA 92054
760.435.3720
Region: North County Coastal

The mission of the Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA) is to educate and inspire the public through a diverse range of engaging exhibitions and programs...

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Timken Museum of Art
1500 El Prado Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101
619.239.5548
Region: Downtown

The Timken Museum of Art, located in San Diego’s Balboa Park, is the permanent home of the Putnam Foundation's world-class collection of...

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The New Children's Museum
200 W Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
619.233.8792
Region: Downtown

The New Children's Museum is a dynamic new model of a children's museum that provides inventive and engaging art experiences that are meaningful...

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San Diego Hall of Champions
2131 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101
619.234.4542
Region: Downtown

The San Diego Hall of Champions is an undisputed national leader in recognition of amateur, collegiate and professional sports excellence; youth...

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Mingei International Museum
1439 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Region: Downtown

Mingei International Museum is located in the heart of historic Balboa Park, on the Plaza de Panama. The Museum features dynamic, changing...

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Junipero Serra Museum
2727 Presidio Drive
San Diego, CA 92103
619.232.6203
Region: Downtown

The Junípero Serra Museum, in Presidio Park, is one of the most familiar landmarks in San Diego. As a major symbol of the city, it stands atop...

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San Diego Model Railroad Museum
1649 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
619.696.0199
Region: Downtown

At 27,000 sq. ft., the museum is one the largest indoor model railroad displays in the world and the only accredited railroad themed musuem in USA....

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Women's Museum of California
2730 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
619.233.7963
Region: Point Loma, Harbor Island & Shelter Island

Since it's inception as the Women's History Reclamation Project, the Women's Museum of California has evolved into a full-fledged women's history...

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Air Group One - CAF
1905 North Marshall Avenue
El Cajon, CA 92020
619.259.5541
Region: East County

Air Group One is the Gillespie Field based, San Diego Wing of the "Commemorative Air Force" a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization headquartered in...

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