An Insider’s Guide to San Diego’s Museum Month


Discover (or rediscover) San Diego’s best museums with your family during San Diego Museum Month 2023

San Diego is giving you even more reason to fall in love with the month of February by kicking off its annual Museum Month. Take a family adventure to explore our city’s finest world-famous museums all month long for half the price. This year, more than 60 museums throughout San Diego county are participating. So, pick a few new museums, hit up some old favorites, and immerse your family in local art walks, nature hikes, science, and other unforgettable learning experiences to inspire curiosity and creativity. Get started below with our picks for the best kid-friendly museums from Oceanside to Imperial Beach to the heart of local favorite, Balboa Park.

Good to Know: You can pick up your Museum Month pass starting January 26 from any local library or you can download your pass. Each Museum Month Pass is free and can be used for up to four, half-priced admissions at participating museums. Guests can use the pass to visit as many museums as they would like between February 1-28.

 

1. Fleet Science Center

If you’re looking for a spot to kick off museum month, then definitely head to The Fleet Center. You and your crew can catch the monthly astronomer-led planetarium show on February 1st, and the hands-on science exhibits will amaze any age (push buttons are self-sanitizing after every push!). Check out their rotating exhibits as there’s always something new to discover, and kids five and under will love playing in Kid City. Don’t forget to snag tickets for the quick 45-minute nature show on their upgraded IMAX big screen.

1875 El Prado
Balboa Park
Online: fleetscience.org

2. Birch Aquarium

Inspire your future marine biologists at San Diego’s Birch Aquarium—the ideal place for curious minds to get inspired by the beautiful and interactive sea-worthy exhibits happening daily. Walk through the hall of jellyfish, past the mesmerizing floor-ceiling kelp tank, and out to the touch pools with the most epic views of the La Jolla coast. Outside you’ll find plenty to keep kids busy learning from water and wind-powered play. Make sure to show up hungry because you’ll want to stop at the Splash Café outside for lots of delicious food that both you and the kids will enjoy.

2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla
Online: aquarium.ucsd.edu

3. Living Coast Discovery Center

San Diego County contains more biodiversity, from the mountains and deserts to deep ocean waters and salt marshes, than any other region in the contiguous United States. The Living Coast Discover Center allows you to explore and engage with animal exhibits that feature hawks, owls, sharks, rays, turtles and more. Time your visit with their animal presentations or even go during a bald eagle’s lunchtime for an unforgettable experience.

1000 Gunpowder Point Dr.
Chula Vista
Online: thelivingcoast.org

4. San Diego Natural History Museum

Roar and then explore at San Diego’s Natural History Museum, locally known as The Nat, and a dino-mite way to spend an afternoon with your kiddos. Young history buffs will love getting an up-close look at what’s been found in our own backyard and beyond with the larger-than-life dinosaurs and other animals on display. Head up to the museum’s top floor to check out the newest exhibit, Caught on Camera, which features remarkable images of southern California wildlife “caught” on film with the help of camera traps. You’ll see flying squirrels mid-leap, bobcats in backyards, and maybe discover local species you’ve never heard of before (what’s a ringtail, anyway?). If you have time, try to catch one of their films about nature on the giant screen.

1788 El Prado
Balboa Park
Online: sdnat.org

5. Maritime Museum of San Diego

Learn about San Diego’s exciting maritime history with a self-guided tour of this historic fleet. You’ll go below deck on the world’s oldest sailing ship, Star of India, tour the celebrity HMS Surprise featured in the film Master and Commander, and even find out what it’s like to sail in a submarine.

1492 N Harbor Dr.
San Diego (Embarcadero)
Online: sdmaritime.org

6. San Diego Botanic Garden

Inspire your kids to connect with plants and nature at the largest children’s garden on the west coast, The San Diego Botanic Garden. There are 37 acres and 4 miles of trails filled with lush plants, waterfalls, and ponds with turtles and fish. Each section of this garden features plants and trees from all over the world, so you can take a mini-vacation without leaving the city. There are two children’s gardens where you’ll find dinosaurs, explore the Incredible Edibles section, play in the Mountain Stream and climb the largest treehouse ever—Toni’s Tree House.

230 Quail Gardens Dr.
Encinitas
Online: sdbgarden.org

7. San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

Head to this north county museum to experience a world of wonders with hands-on activities like building, magnification, dress-up, animal and plant care, water play, and so much more. A perfect spot for younger kids, The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum has a special toddler area for little ones to play safely. This is a one-level indoor/outdoor museum, so you’ll find a good mix of activities, knowing the kids can’t wander off too far away. Don’t miss the Garden Workshop with Jimbos happening during museum month on February 10.

320 N Broadway
Escondido
Online: sdcdm.org

8. The New Children’s Museum

“Think, play, and create” is definitely what this place is all about; the New Children’s Museum has rotating exhibits that will inspire kids to see the world through creativity and art. Paint the old truck outside, make your own clay figurine, jump and swing on the large crocheted Whammock! and crawl through secret passageways and rooms. We love their latest installment, Breathing Room, a quiet space meant for pause in an otherwise highly active environment. The installation features intricate knitted sculptures made of repurposed T-shirts that move and hang from the ceiling. It’s the perfect reminder to look up, slow down, and focus on our breath. Also, The Bean Sprouts Café will excite your kids to eat the creatively displayed food.

200 W Island Ave.
San Diego
Online: thinkplaycreate.org

 

9. San Diego Air and Space Museum

Journey through aviation and learn about all the early explorers of flight and space. You’ll find rare specimens of aircraft, barnstormers from the golden age of flight, military jets, space capsules, and even one of the first hot air balloons from 1783.

And, beginning February 4th, you can check out their newest exhibit: Above and Beyond—celebrating the power of innovation to make dreams take flight, featuring immersive simulations, interactive design challenges, iconic historical touchstones, visionary concepts and inspiring stories from game-changing innovators, past and present. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to stop for a bite to eat in the restaurant with views underneath the San Diego flight line; you’ll enjoy watching the airplanes fly right above you.

2001 Pan American Plaza
Balboa Park
Online: sandiegoairandspace.org

10. San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

North County kiddos will experience a world of wonders with hands-on activities like building, magnification, dress-up, animal and plant care, water play, and so much more. There’s even a toddler area for little ones to play safely. This is a one-level indoor/outdoor museum, so you’ll find a good mix of activities knowing the kids can’t wander off too far away.

320 N Broadway
Escondido
Online: sdcdm.org

11. USS Midway Museum

Visit America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier and find out what it was like to live onboard. Take a self-guided tour down below of the galley (kitchen), bunks, and command centers, and then head upstairs to the flight deck. You’ll find all kinds of aircraft and you can even go inside some of them. Find the gift shop, coffee shop, and restaurant towards the stern (back) of the boat.

910 N Harbor Dr.
San Diego (Embarcadero)
Online: midway.org

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