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

San Diego Museum Month, USS Midway Museum

Explore our city’s finest world-famous museums all month long for half the price. Yup, you got it—San Diego’s annual Museum Month is back from Feb. 1-28 and over 45 museums are all open for in-person visits this year. Pick a few new museums or hit up some old favorites and immerse your family in nature, art, science and all kinds of cultures this month. You’ll find tons of kid-friendly museums from Oceanside to Imperial Beach and out to the backcountry. Read on for local kids’ favorite museum spots!

Must-Do: Make sure to pick up your Museum Month pass from any local Macy’s stores or your local library to start exploring.

Details: Each Museum Month Pass is free and can be used for up to four half-priced admissions at any of the participating museums. Guests can use the pass to visit as many museums as they would like between Feb. 1-28.

Safety: Each museum may have extra health and safety policies beyond the current state mandates, so check directly with the venue for their requirements.

Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium

Just keep swimming with Birch Aquarium’s beautiful and interactive marine exhibits. Walk through the hall of jellyfish, past the mesmerizing floor-ceiling kelp tank and out 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. Go hungry because you’ll want to stop at the Splash Café outside for lots of delicious food the kids will enjoy (it’s owned by the famed local chef of the French Gourmet).

Hours: daily 9 am-5 pm

Cost: $24.95 for ages 17+, $22.95 for ages 60+, $19.95 for kids ages 3-17, free for kids 2 and under, discounts for military

2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla
858-534-3474
Online: aquarium.ucsd.edu

Fleet Science Center

San Diego Museum Council

An all-time favorite place to go any day because they're open 365 days a year. The Fleet Center's hands-on science exhibits will amaze any age (push buttons are self-sanitizing after every push!). Check out their rotating exhibits so there's always something new to discover and kids 5 and under will love playing in Kid City. Grab your tickets for a perfectly quick 45-minute nature show on their upgraded IMAX big screen; you've never seen black bears this close before.

Hours: daily 10 am-5 pm

Cost: $21.95 for ages 13+, $19.95 for ages 65+, $18.95 for kids ages 3-12, free for kids 2 and under

1875 El Prado, Balboa Park
619-238-1233
Online: fleetscience.org

Living Coast Discovery Center

Bonnie Taylor @famdiego

Explore San Diego's coastal marine habitats with these 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.

Hours: Thurs.-Sun. from 10 am-5 pm

Cost: $18 for ages 13+, $13 for kids ages 3-12, free for kids 2 and under

1000 Gunpowder Point Dr., Chula Vista
619-409-5900
Online: thelivingcoast.org

Maritime Museum of San Diego

San Diego Museum Council

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 that was in the film Master and Commander, even find out what it’s like to sail in a submarine.

Hours: daily from 10 am-5 pm

Cost: $20 for ages 18+, $15 for ages 62+, $10 for kids ages 3-12, free for kids 2 and under, $15 for military and students

1492 N Harbor Dr., San Diego (Embarcadero)
619-234-9153
Online: sdmaritime.org

San Diego Air and Space Museum

San Diego Museum Council

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. Stop for a bite to eat in the restaurant in the back with views underneath the San Diego flight line; you’ll enjoy watching the airplanes fly right above you.

Hours: daily from 10 am-4:30 pm

Cost: $22.50 for ages 12+, $18 for ages 65+, $12 for kids ages 3-11, free for kids 2 and under, $18 for military and students

2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
619-234-8291
Online: sandiegoairandspace.org

San Diego Botanic Garden

Bonnie Taylor @famdiego

Inspire your kids to connect with plants and nature at 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, operating model trains and the largest treehouse to climb on the West coast.

Hours: Wed.-Mon. from 9 am-5 pm (closed Tue.)

Cost: $18 for ages 18+, $12 for ages 60+, $10 for kids ages 3-17, free for kids 2 and under, $12 for military and students

230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas
760-436-3036
Online: sdbgarden.org

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

Bonnie Taylor @famdiego

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 activity knowing the kids can’t wander off too far away.

Hours: Tues.-Sat. from 9 am-12 pm and 1:30 pm-4:30 pm, (closed Sun. and Mon.)

Cost: $9.50 per person, free for kids under 12 months old, $6.50 for military and educators

320 N Broadway, Escondido
760-233-7755
Online: sdcdm.org

San Diego Natural History Museum

Bonnie Taylor @famdiego

Roar and then explore! Kids 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. This display is one of the most fun places for kids because they're actually encouraged to open up all their drawers and doors. The idea that nothing is off-limits and you never know what you'll discover is what makes this exhibit so fun for young museum lovers. Try to catch one of their films about nature on the giant screen; 25 minutes is the perfect length for little attention spans.

Hours: Fri-Tue from 10 am-4 pm (closed Wed. and Thurs.)

Cost: $19.95 for ages 18+, $16.95 for ages 62+, $11.95 for kids ages 3-17, free for kids 2 and under, $16.95 for military and students

1788 El Prado, Balboa Park
619-232-3821
Online: sdnat.org

The New Children’s Museum

Philipp Scholz Rittermann

Think, play and create is definitely what this place is all about. The 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. The Bean Sprouts Café will excite your kids to eat the creatively displayed food, think fish pizzas, “spaceadillas” and tuna salad daisies.

Hours: Thur-Mon from 9 am-12 pm and 1-4 pm (closed Tues. and Wed.)

Cost: $15 for general admission ages 1+, $10 for seniors, free for kids under 1, $10 for military, $2 museums for all (EBT,SNAP,WIC)

200 W Island Ave., San Diego (downtown)
619-233-8792
Online: thinkplaycreate.org

USS Midway Museum

San Diego Museum Month, USS Midway Museum
San Diego Museum Council

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, 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.

Tip: Ask for the kids' Junior Pilot Program activity and return it completed for a fun inductee ceremony with a veteran who will present their Junior Pilot Wings.

Hours: daily from 10 am-5 pm

Cost: $26 for ages 13+, $18 for kids ages 6-12 and for veterans

910 N Harbor Dr., San Diego (Embarcadero)
619-544-9600
Online: midway.org

––Bonnie Taylor

Featured Image: San Diego Museum Council

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