Museums in San Diego County reflect a diverse range of interest and subjects, from music to surfing to aviation to military history and everything in between. Many of San Diego’s museums are located in Balboa Park and Old Town, but venture away from the more popular tourist areas and be surprised at what can be discovered in the most unlikely of places.
Air Group One – Commemorative Air Force Museum
Based at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, Air Group One – CAF is dedicated to preserving the history of the people and planes of World War II. Run by a dedicated group of volunteers, this museum is one of East County’s hidden gems. Air Group One is also responsible for “Air Show San Diego” (formerly “Wings Over Gillespie”), a local air show that never ceases to impress. Next year’s air show will be on June 7 and 8, 2014 and will commemorate the 70th anniversary of “D-Day,” the invasion of Normandy. Hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10am – 2pm. Cost: Free.
1905 North Marshall Avenue (Hanger #6), El Cajon, CA 92020 Telephone: 619-259-5542
Museum of Making Music
The Museum of Making Music showcases and celebrates the music industry. Through exhibitions, concerts and educational programs, the museum explores the history of American music, including the connections of the people who create and design instruments to the musicians themselves. Hear samples of popular music, create a beat on dozens of hands-on instruments, and see vintage instruments that highlight the ever-changing music industry. Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. Cost: Adults $8; Seniors, students, military $5; Kids under 5 free.
5790 Aramda Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008 Telephone: 760-438-5996
California Surf Museum
Founded in 1986, the California Surf Museum showcases surfing culture by capturing its essence through photography, exhibits, unique surf memorabilia and art. The museums surfboard collections includes wooden boards from the early 1900’s to today’s modern boards. Hours: Open daily 10am – 4pm, open Thursday until 8 pm. Cost: Adults $5; Seniors, military, students $3, Kids under 12 free, and Free Tuesdays.
312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, CA 92054 Telephone: 760-721-6876
Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly the Chula Vista Nature Center)
Enjoy a one-of-kind nature experience on San Diego Bay. Get up-close and personal with endangered sea turtles, jelly fish, sharks, stingrays, and more. Located on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, the Discovery Center showcases more than 350 animals and plant species native to the San Diego region. Learn conservation through interactive educational programs, animal exhibits, art displays, story telling, keeper talks, tours, day camps and other kid-friendly events. Hours: Open daily 10am – 4pm. Adults $14; Seniors, students, kids (4-17) $9, Kids under 3 and Military with ID free. Please note that once in the parking lot, wait for the Living Coast Discovery Center shuttle. Last shuttle to enter the center is at 3pm.
1000 Gunpowder Point Dr., Chula Vista, CA 91910 Telephone: 619-409-5900
NTC at Liberty Station
NTC at Liberty Station is located on the grounds of the former Naval Training Center near downtown San Diego and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and Navy history. Many of the historic buildings have been renovated and now house a number of museums, galleries, art studios, restaurants, and other unique shops. Wander the 28 acres and browse the many historic displays documenting the buildings original use and learn about San Diego’s extensive Naval history. Times of museums and shops vary. Check website for more information.
2801 Rosecrans St., San Diego, CA 92106 Telephone: 619-573-9260.