San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum


Location: Downtown San Diego (North Embarcadero)

Open Daily: Entrance Allowed 10AM – 4PM (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)

Cost: $20 ($10 for Kids ages 6-12 and $17 for Seniors 62+). Parking Costs Extra.

Features: USS Midway – Longest Serving Aircraft Carrier in U.S. Naval History; Over 40 Exhibits, including Fighter Planes; Simulator Rides

aircraft-carrier-city-viewSan Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum Highlights: Walk aboard the USS Midway, the U.S. Navy’s longest serving aircraft carrier in history. The USS Midway was the first ship commissioned after World War II. From its beginning in 1945, it went on to launch fighter jets that downed Russian MiGs during the Vietnam War and continued to serve the United States when it launched sorties during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Read more about the USS Midway, which was finally retired in 1992.

While on board, you can take a self-guided audio tour that relives the history of the ship’s service. The USS Midway was operated by a crew of 4,500 and was home to over 250,000 navy personnel during its active-duty lifetime. Included in the tour are two dozen restored Navy aircraft.

Visitors in the airplane hanger of an aircraft carrierWhat to Expect

  • Consider setting aside at least three hours to enjoy the museum. Many visitors stay for most of the day.
  • Weekends are busy so try visiting during the Weekdays so you can spend more time in tight, but popular, areas of the ship such as the Bridge and Flight Deck Control.
  • There are a number of stairs and ladders, so wear comfortable shoes. For those with disabilities, there are a few elevators and wheelchairs available. A Video Tour of exhibits not accessible by wheelchair is also available. You can find more helpful information online.
  • Children enjoying a visit to the aircraft carrier museum

  • Self-guided audio tours are included with admission. They explain the ships history, its various compartments, as well as the restored aircraft you will see on board. Here is a picture of the tour map to give you an idea of the size of the ship. Click on the image to enlarge and provide a better view. The map is numbered to take you in an orderly manner to see the exhibits on several decks (floors).
  • If it is cool outside, be sure to bring along a long sleeve shirt or light jacket (even in the summer some times) since it can be breezy on the Flight Deck of the USS Midway. Learn more about San Diego weather.
  • No Smoking is allowed in the Aircraft Carrier Museum.

aircraft-carrier-museumAircraft Exhibits – There are two dozen aircrafts, including planes, jets, and helicopters.

Flight Simulators – Learn what it is like to take off on a fighter jet from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, buckle in to fly with the Blue Angels, or take on a Russian MiG in a dog fight. The Aircraft Museum offers three flight simulators for the adventurous. Rides can last from as little as 3 minutes (for $6) to much longer (up to $50).

Stay Overnight on the USS Midway – The USS Midway hosts families on a USS Midway sleepover. You will get a behind the scenes tour, eat in the mess hall, and sleep in the bunks.


Photo Courtesy of the USS Midway Museum

Food – There is a cafe on the USS Midway Museum. It offers sandwiches and salads. The outdoor seating area on the Hangar Deck faces towards Downtown San Diego. There are additional choices along the waterfront.

Information on Visiting the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum

Admission Prices: (Costs are Approximate)

  • Parking will range from $4 – $10 (See more parking information below.)
  • Standard Fee is $20; ($10 for Kids ages 6-12).
  • $17 for Seniors 62+ and $15 for Students.
  • $10 for Retired Military and Free for Active Military
  • Simulator Rides cost extra ranging from $6 – $50.
  • Memberships are available. They provide a good deal for families who want to visit more than once during the year.

Directions from Google Maps to 1355 North Harbor Drive in San Diego, CA 92101. (About a quarter mile walk south of the San Diego Maritime Museum and accessible from a beautiful walkway along San Diego Harbor.)

Parking – There is Metered Street Parking near the Museum that runs about $1.25 per hour with a limit of 2 – 3 hours. You will have to walk at least 100 yards to reach the Museum entrance. You can also park on the Navy Pier, just outside the entrance to the Museum. It’s about $7 for 4 hours and $10 for 10 hours. Most visitors will plan on spending the full day visiting the Museum as well as enjoying waterfront attractions, restaurants, going for a walk, and taking in the views.

Traffic – Getting in and out of downtown using highways I-5, SR-163, and SR-94 is relatively easy. Downtown San Diego is not a major employment center and thus there is very little rush hour traffic. Watch for slower traffic on the I-5 where it does a tight S-curve through downtown San Diego near the SR-163 interchange. When heading southbound on SR-163, stay to the left side unless you want to get on the I-5. (You will encounter a slight delay getting on the I-5 from SR-163.) You will also encounter a slight delay on SR-163 going into downtown when there is an event at Petco Park. The San Diego Padres games usually start at 7:05PM. Even though traffic backs up a little on SR-163, it continues to move along. When leaving downtown, remember that:

  • 1st Avenue will get you to the I-5 North,
  • 11th Avenue will get you to SR-163 and the I-5 North,
  • E & J Streets will get you to the I-5 South, and
  • G Street will get you to SR-94.

The traffic lights on these streets are synchronized and will generally move you along without delay. (Learn how to get the latest highway traffic updates.)

Once you are downtown, you will find most of the streets are one-way, on an alternating basis. (You can see them if you zoom in on Google Maps.) Broadway and Market Streets are both two-way streets running east-west. You will find that at several intersections you are not allowed to make a left turn off of Broadway or Market. Thus, if you need to make a left turn, it is often better to use a one-way street rather than Broadway and Market Streets. The streets closest to the San Diego Bay attractions (including the USS Midway Museum) are also two-way.

All of the streets downtown move along quite well. The only exceptions are 4th and 5th Avenues through the Gaslamp Quarter in the evenings and around Petco Park before and after events. One other exception is crossing train tracks that run along Harbor Drive in front of the Convention Center. You can cross over the train tracks at Market, Front, 1st, and 5th. Sometimes, freight trains block the latter few crossover streets. If you see them sitting still, it means they are checking their brakes, so it could take a while. Don’t wait. Move farther north towards Market Street to cross over the tracks.

Transit – Both the Blue and Orange Trolley Lines move through Downtown San Diego and get you within four blocks of most attractions, including the USS Midway Museum (Santa Fe Depot and America Plaza Stations). The AMTRAK and Coaster Station is also within a few blocks of the Museum. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map and information for the online Transit Planner.) Walking around Downtown San Diego is easy since it is flat with the exception of the northeast corner near Cortez Hill.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: *Top San Diego Museums*, Aviation & Auto Museums, Embarcadero North / Columbia, Maritime Attractions, Military Museums & Presence |

2 Responses to “San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum”

  1. brian woods says:

    would love to visit the museum,i recommend everybody to visit.i myself served aboard this great ship 1986 to 1988.many great memories.

  2. janet and vic says:

    hi we hve just come back from a two week stay in san diego and boy was it a great holiday
    we went round the uss midway and it was just great best part of the holiday i would recommend this
    trip to any one and for 17 dollers its well worth it i could go on and on but you must go on this tour
    and see for yourself and you will agree

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