I recently headed back to California to check out the offerings for San Diego Museum Month. The Hilton Bayfront played host, and the museum council showed us all the latest and greatest at the local museums.
It's not often that I take a trip without the whole family, but they've already seen (and loved!) what San Diego Museum Month has to offer. We were residents of the area for ten years. I wanted to have a chance to really hone in on the specific offerings around spots we adore like Balboa Park, Little Italy, the San Diego Zoo and more.
Also, Nate already got to spend the night on the Midway, so it was MY turn for a little getaway!
The San Diego Museum Month Pass lets up to four people per pass get half off admission to 40+ museums in San Diego during the month of February. They're distributed at local libraries or offered to visitors staying at any participating Hilton in San Diego County. The passes are available as early as January 31 – full details are over on San Diego's visitor website.
The best San Diego museums to see during San Diego Museum Month are really going to depend on who's in your crew. Participating museums include:
- Adobe Chapel
- Barona Cultural Center & Museum
- Birch Aquarium at Scripps
- Bonita Museum & Cultural Center
- California Center for the Arts, Escondido Museum
- California Surf Museum
- Coronado Museum of History & Art
- Fleet Science Center (Galleries only)
- Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
- Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
- Heritage of the Americas Museum
- Japanese Friendship Garden
- Junipero Serra Museum
- La Jolla Historical Society
- Living Coast Discovery Center
- Lux Art Institute
- Maritime Museum of San Diego
- Marston House Museum & Gardens
- Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum
- Mission San Luis Rey Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (Downtown only)
- Museum of Making Music
- Museum of Photographic Arts
- New Americans Museum
- Oceanside Museum of Art
- San Diego Air & Space Museum
- San Diego Archaeological Center
- San Diego Art Institute
- San Diego Automotive Museum
- San Diego Botanic Garden
- San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
- San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
- San Diego History Center
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum
- San Diego Natural History Museum (the Nat)
- The New Children’s Museum
- The San Diego Museum of Art
- Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center
- Timken Museum of Art
- USS Midway Museum
- Visions Art Museum
- Warner-Carrillo Ranch House
- Whaley House Museum
Got kids? Don't miss the Model Railroad Museum, the Nat, Fleet, Living Coast, Birch Aquarium, USS Midway Children's Discovery Museum and New Children's Museum. Those are all spacious and hands-on. Looking for some zen? Head to the Japanese Friendship Garden. Roadie? The Automotive Museum's where it's at. The San Diego Museum of Art has art lovers covered, and you can find tons of culture and inspiration at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Keep in mind that there are non-traditional museums in the mix, too. Real sea turtles pop up to greet you at Living Coast Discovery Center, and you can even see tons and TONS of war-worn planes at Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum! The Botanic Garden is also an incredible sight to behold, with incredible plants around every corner.
San Diego sightseeing is a must while you're in the area, obviously. Hop on the Old Town Trolley for an unparalleled open-air tour extending from Coronado to Old Town, passing over 100 points of interest along the way.
Where to eat in San Diego is a common question for people visiting during San Diego Museum Month. Panama 66 is an absolute must-do in Balboa Park. Their tuna sandwich is drool-worthy, especially served alongside local San Diego brewery classics. Don't miss Puesto's incredible tacos, guacamole and margaritas! Last but not least, Michelin-recognized CUCINA urbana serves up world-class Italian food and homestyle hospitality.
Where to stay in San Diego during San Diego Museum Month? I've always eyed the Hilton San Diego Bayfront for its location, right on the water in downtown. I jumped at the chance to finally stay there and it was JUST as amazing as I imagined. With incredible on-site restaurants, a beautiful saltwater pool, stunning views and even an on-site spa, this is the spot to be.
The hotel is centrally located so all of our favorites for San Diego Museum Month are a quick drive away, and Ubers and Lyfts are plentiful. You can even walk to a ton of hot spots in the area, including Petco Park, the Gaslamp District, New Children's Museum and Puesto.
Pro tip: if you're headed to San Diego soon, don't miss some of our other favorites for winter in San Diego. You'll also want to hit up Butterfly Jungle at the Safari Park and the Point Loma Tide Pools, if you're timing's right. If you're around during the summer, Night Zoo is an awesome experience.
Have you been to San Diego Museum Month yet?