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San Diego Culture & history

Our most recommended San Diego Culture & history

San Diego: USS Midway Museum Entry Ticket

1. San Diego: USS Midway Museum Entry Ticket

Take a self-guided audio tour onboard the world’s longest-serving aircraft carrier, the historic USS Midway. See the carrier’s 25 restored aircraft from the days of WWII to Operation Desert Storm. Visit areas throughout the Midway, from the crew's sleeping quarters to the pilots' ready rooms. Docents are available throughout the carrier and are eager to share their stories, anecdotes, and statistics, creating a picture of just how important the USS Midway was to the U.S. Navy. Most guests spend 3 to 4 hours exploring this historic aircraft carrier and learning its history. The included audio guide, available in 6 languages, will help you explore the dozens of highlighted areas across the massive ship.  There are family-oriented activities throughout the Museum. Included are 3 types of flight simulators, music videos, short films, climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits, and more. The Museum is located at the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego.

San Diego: San Diego Natural History Museum Ticket

2. San Diego: San Diego Natural History Museum Ticket

The San Diego Natural History Museum is a flagship institution in Balboa Park, showcasing the regional natural history and unique biodiversity of Southern California and Baja California. The museum has four floors of exhibitions, a 3D theater, and San Diego’s only Foucault pendulum. Through its permanent collection, special exhibitions, numerous educational programs, and the opportunity to see scientists at work, the Museum fosters a lifelong love of learning about nature and the environment for visitors of all ages. Current exhibits include: Art of Science (running until Jan 15, 2023) Data is beautiful and science has style - see the beauty that can emerge from scientific research. In collaboration with the UC San Diego library, see the winners of the Art of Science competition, showcasing the work of UC San Diego students and researchers. Expedition Baja The Baja California Peninsula: our neighbor in nature. Explore towing mountains, desert flats, and isolated islands, and follow along with researchers working to conserve the peninsula's wild beauty. Living Lab Meet more than 20 of your not-so-cuddly neighbors, from stinging scorpions to elusive nocturnal lizards. Caught on Camera (coming Nov 18, 2022) Wildlife is all around, even when we don't see it. So, what exactly are animals up to when we're not looking? Find out in this new photography exhibition featuring animal candids taken with the help of camera trap technology. Hidden Gems Get to know The Nat's sparkly side with more than 100 of the best, brightest, and most spectacular selections from our gems and mineral collection. These hidden gems will be on every floor of the Museum. The Backyard Learn and explore the natural world through play. This new space invites our youngest visitors (ages 0-5) to play under a shade tree, search for hidden secrets along a wooden fence, or read their favorite book in a cozy potting shed. Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage This new exhibition gives visitors a rare "backstage" glimpse of the museum's storage areas. Specimens arranged on shelves and in cases offer the opportunity to revel in the natural world in all its beauty and peculiarity. Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science This new, permanent exhibition explores the past, present and future of citizen science through rare books, art, photographs, and historical documents. Coast to Cactus in Southern California This innovative, permanent exhibition tells the story of this amazing place called home. Take an immersive walk through the major regions of southern California's coast, inland valleys, mountains, and deserts and celebrate the abundant variety of life found here. Fossil Mysteries From dinosaurs to mastodons, travel through 75 million years and dig into the rich fossil history of southern California and Baja California. Allosaurus Meet Al, a member of our skeleton crew. Allosaurus fragilis, a genus of large theropod dinosaur that lived in North America during the late Jurassic Period, is a relative of T. rex, which lived later. Al's bones are casts made from original fossil bones collected in Utah. Megalodon This replica of an extinct megalodon shark was modeled from and inspired by teeth collected from Miocene sandstones in Oceanside, California and near Ensenada, Baja California by Museum paleontology staff. It hangs in the Atrium as part of Fossil Mysteries and is one of the best selfie spots in the museum. SkullsTake a look at 200 of the weirdest, wildest, and most fascinating animal skulls from our research collection. Demonstration Lab See scientists at work and learn some of the ways they prepare, preserve, and study specimens. Science Spotlight: Baleen Whale Evolution Baleen whales are the largest living animals on the planet, and their ability to filter feed on small organisms in the ocean is an astounding adaptation. Scientists have new evidence for how and when the evolution from teeth to baleen occurred in the ancestors of today's filter-feeding whales. Giant-Screen Theater The Subaru Giant Screen Experience is one-of-a-kind. Settle into the 300-seat, stadium-style theater and enjoy films on the massive screen.

San Diego: Haunted Historic Whaley House - Self-Guided Tour

3. San Diego: Haunted Historic Whaley House - Self-Guided Tour

Travel back to 1800s San Diego as you explore the family home of Thomas Whaley on a self-guided tour. After a 5-minute introduction, walk through the Whaley House Museum at your own pace and ask the docent in each room any questions you may have. For those who have an affinity for the paranormal, San Diego’s famed Whaley House is widely regarded as the most haunted house in America. With its rich and dark past, spine-tingling cases of spiritual encounters, and inexplicable events, its haunted pedigree is second to none. Get a glimpse into the past at a house that’s been viewed as an integral part of Old Town San Diego since 1857. With more than a century in the making, the Whaley House Museum holds an impressive amount of San Diego heritage. Recognized as the oldest two-story brick-structure south of Monterey California, the Whaley House features magnificent Greek Revival architecture along with an unrivaled historical timeline encompassing San Diego’s second county courthouse, a lively theater, a charming general store, and a prominent family home.

San Diego: Coronado Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

4. San Diego: Coronado Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

A trip to Coronado feels like you’re leaving behind the mainland for a dose of island living, but it’s not your typical beach town. Part resort, part Naval Base, part luxury homes for the rich, Coronado is many things to many people. Learn about the first military flying school located on the island, where sailors first learned to fly. Spy architectural gems, some of which employed the latest technology when built over a century ago. And you’ll hear what drew Charles Lindbergh, L. Frank Baum and Marilyn Monroe to this unique beach town. Pop into a local museum (subject to availability) to look at photos that bring these stories to life. Make a quick stop for a snack at a local eatery. It could be something sweet or something savory – depending on your mood – but whichever way you go, it will be locally made and delicious. Refreshed, take a stroll down to Star Park, where the “Wizard of Oz” house is located and then make your way to Coronado beach, one of the best in the country. On a clear day you can see all the way to Mexico! Stroll by multi-million dollar homes that line Ocean Blvd and you’ll hear about the people who once lived there, including the residents of the historic Spreckels Mansion. Your last stop will be at the world-famous, historic Hotel del Coronado. This icon is over 130 years old and is an American treasure, having hosted celebrities, dignitaries, and US presidents in its rooms. Take a tour around the grounds, finishing up just outside the spectacular Crown Room (home to a luxe Sunday brunch). From here, you’re free to explore on your own or stroll back down Orange Ave. to where the tour began. Your guide will make suggestions on what else to see and do, give you tips on where to eat and shop and let you know the times for the next shuttle or ferry.

From San Diego: Private Puerto Nuevo Tour with Lobster Lunch

5. From San Diego: Private Puerto Nuevo Tour with Lobster Lunch

This private tour from San Diego explores Puerto Nuevo, the lobster village of Baja California. Located only minutes from Rosarito Beach, the town claims to have some of the best lobster in the world. Find out while listening to live mariachi music and drinking margaritas. This tour also allows for plenty of free time for shopping and craft beer tastings at Rosarito Beach. At 9:30 AM aboard a luxury 6-14 passenger van with air conditioning and reclining seats. Relax with plenty of legroom and enjoy complimentary bottles of drinking water. At 10:00 AM arrive at the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT) and the Botanical Garden. Afterward spending time there, at approximately 11:00 AM visit to the infamous border wall at the USA/Mexican border. Then at 11:30 AM spend time at Rosarito Beach to enjoy craft beer tastings. By 2:30 PM have a lobster lunch at Puerto Nuevo with tequila margaritas and live mariachi music included. For those unfamiliar with Baja lobster, it’s cooked with garlic butter and lime and served with beans and rice. Scoop up the lobster in warm handmade flour tortillas while savoring tequila margaritas. After lunch, have free time to shop at the traditional Mexican Curios Market. At 4:00 PM head back to San Diego with an approximately 5:30 PM arrival time.

San Diego: Maritime Museum of San Diego Admission

6. San Diego: Maritime Museum of San Diego Admission

Start your visit to the Maritime Museum of San Diego with a tour of the 1898 Victorian-era steam ferry boat, Berkeley. See a range of exhibits on the naval and commercial fishing industry history. Learn about navigational exploration and see vintage photography and artwork, military artifacts, and impressive yacht models. After the Berkeley, head down the gangway underwater to the USS Dolphin. Explore the USS Dolphin and see what the world’s deepest dive submarine looks like on the inside. Make your way to the Vietnam-era PCF 816 Swift boat, the 1904 royal steam yacht Medea, and a 1914 Pilot boat. See the replica of the 1452 Spanish galleon Explorer Cabrillo, which sailed into the West Coast. See both the replica galleon and the Californian topsail schooner. The last vessel is the Star, with three decks of treasured exhibits and gallery space. Learn about the history of the great Age of Sail onboard.

San Diego: Segway Tour of the Gaslamp District

7. San Diego: Segway Tour of the Gaslamp District

Get the perfect overview of San Diego’s landmarks and history on this 2-hour Segway tour. From downtown, through the Gaslamp Quarter to the Embarcadero and waterfront, we cover the main sights of the first city in California. The Gaslamp Segway Tour is a great introduction to San Diego. The Gaslamp district is where we started our business, and gives this tour its name. Get to know the historic heart of San Diego and see what makes the Gaslamp District home to the city’s most exciting events and nightlife, but there’s more to the tour than this charming quarter. Take in the impressive San Diego The Convention Center and breathe in Pacific air at the Seaport Pier. Enjoy a beautiful San Diego skyline view, see the USS San Diego Memorial and USS Midway on the water, check out the urban tree exhibit and Inez Parker Rose Garden, and much more! Explore San Diego by Segway to experience the sights and history of the first city in California.

San Diego: Californian Tall Ship Sailing and Maritime Museum

8. San Diego: Californian Tall Ship Sailing and Maritime Museum

Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind adventure at sea aboard the Californian, the Official Tall Ship of the State of California. See San Diego from the water on a replica of a gold rush era revenue cutter, then continue the fun at the Maritime Museum with included admission. Become part of her crew in sailing a traditionally rigged tall ship. During this unique experience back in time, you’ll be invited to haul a line, man the helm, and watch the crew as they scamper up and down the rigging to set and furl the sails. Listen as the Californian’s crew relates the history of sailing and exploration in San Diego. Hear tales of whaling and sea otter trade, local sea battles, the art of ship’s gunnery, and life at sea. You can use your entry ticket to the Maritime Museum of San Diego before or after your trip at sea.

San Diego: Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour by Smartphone

9. San Diego: Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour by Smartphone

Enjoy a guided walking tour of the beautiful and interesting parts of San Diego. Follow clues on your smartphone and solve interesting puzzles along the way. Play with your group at your own pace as the game guides you through the city. Solve the 24 challenges on the scavenger hunt as you learn local history and walk for approximately 4 miles. Gain points for correct answers and aim for a high score on the leader board. See the happening Gaslamp Quarter, historic Little Italy, the inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, and the navy culture of the harbor waterfront. Explore the city's major attractions as well as its less-known gems. With no in-person guide to wait for, play any time that fits your schedule.

San Diego: San Salvador Boat Tour and Maritime Museum Ticket

10. San Diego: San Salvador Boat Tour and Maritime Museum Ticket

Discover what it was like to sail during the golden age of exploration as you sail from San Diego's port aboard a wooden galleon ship. View one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships with a ticket to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Board the San Salvador, a rare replica of the galleon ship of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo which arrived at San Diego's port on September 28, 1542. Admire views of the city from the water while aboard a wooden 16th-century style galleon ship. Take a selfie while on the deck of this classic vessel. Listen as the ship's crew transports you back in time with facinating tales about the crew of the real San Salvador ship. Have the option of visiting the Maritime Museum of San Diego before or after your sailing adventure. Explore the exhibits at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. See a collection of ship which includes the one of the world’s oldest active ships the 'Star of India.' Learn about topics like San Diego's Navy, the Age of Sail, and the Age of Steam with a variety of facinating exhibits.

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What people are saying about San Diego

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 474 reviews

I was so impressed with the Midway Museum. Even our 15 year old grand daughter loved it. To walk in the shoes of sailors and pilots was quite the experience. We took our time and was there about four hours. Be prepared to go up and down a lot of steps. Wheel chairs are allowed, but you don't get to go down into the belly of the ship with a wheelchair. The tour was laid out so you never got lost. I don't know how sailors never got lost on that ship.

The Midway is a facinating history of what the navy went through and goes through when describing carrier life. Seeing how the thousands of sailors lived and worked on a functioning ship makes one appreciate the hard work and personal sacrifices they make for our security. Take your time to explore all the areas. It’s a complicated machine to understand but well worth taking the time.

We thoroughly enjoyed the time spent on the air craft carrier and highly recommend the experience.

Walking in history. We felt the energy of the ship as we walked the decks, awesome

Great tour! Worth the money and time. Plan 3 hours.