10 Best Family-Friendly Museums in San Diego

San Diego is famous for its theme parks, beaches and year-round sunshine but world-class museums also await. Most are located in Balboa Park, the nation's largest urban cultural park which is must-do on any San Diego itinerary. However, wherever you are in the county, a museum is probably not too far away.

Most of our museums are great for families because while densely-packed with awesome exhibits, they aren't huge and are priced accordingly. They are the perfect place to go for a break from afternoon sun or on the rare rainy day.

With fidgety kids, an hour or two at the San Diego Natural History Museum to check out some dinosaur bones or Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for an IMAX movie and some hands-on science fun is plenty of time. Or, if your child is considering music lessons and isn't sure which instrument to choose, the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad has an impressive room of instruments just waiting to be played.

Keep in mind that San Diego museums offer Residents Free Tuesdays where museums offer complimentary entry to those who live here on a rotating basis. While it's a boon for locals, it can mean extra crowds. The schedule is online.

Birch Aquarium


One of the world's most renowned aquariums, this facility dates to 1903 and features 30 tanks filled with a plethora of fish and coral species. One side is dedicated to sea life while the other places emphasis on things we can do to protect the...  Read More



The San Diego Air & Space Museum offers a comprehensive overview of the history of flight from early balloon ascents to space travel. Several galleries showcase such aviation topics as the Wright brothers, the Golden Age of flight, World...  Read More



Even folks who don't consider themselves railroad buffs enjoy this museum, but if you were a train enthusiast in your youth or have a kid who is, this museum is a must-see. The 27,000 square-foot space features four railroads of the southwestern...  Read More



The aircraft carrier USS Midway, which served from 1945-1992, offers a fascinating glimpse into life aboard a giant ship. Take the self-guided audio tour, then check out some two dozen aircraft on the flight deck and experience the simulator...  Read More



The San Diego Children's Discovery Museum is a North County attraction dedicated to helping kids explore, imagine, experiment and discover the world around them in 6000 square feet of indoor space and even more outside. Highlights include the...  Read More

Balboa Park


Located in the historic California Quadrangle at Balboa Park, this museum focuses primarily on the cultures of the ancient Americas. Permanent exhibit topics include the Maya, the Kumeyaay Indians, and human evolution. Changing special exhibits...  Read More

Museum of Making Music


Not only do you come to the Museum of Making Music to admire exhibits of music themed throughout the decades, but you can try your hand at playing a number of instruments. Each gallery represents 20 years, with vintage instruments as well as...  Read More



The New Children's Museum re-opened in 2008 with a motto of think, play and create, which is exactly what kids do here. What is different about The New Children's Museum is that they specifically commission works of art with tactile features...  Read More



"Please touch" is the motto of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and they offer over 100 hands-on exhibits to prove it. The museum is home to 12 permanent exhibits and many visiting ones but you'll also want to plan time to see a movie in the...  Read More



Live snakes, insects, lizards and frogs are featured in some of the exhibits at this museum, which also has extensive fossil and skeletal collections of regional flora and fauna. California geology (with emphasis on San Diego) and geography are...  Read More


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie