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Fun for adults and kids, this museum-on-water is the focal point of San Diego's historic Embarcadero Promenade. Comprised of several painstakingly restored historic ships, it is a tribute to the sea-faring age. One of the ships showcased at Maritime Museum of San Diego is the Star of India (1863), a stunning vision that graces the coastline as the world's oldest actively-sailed, square-rigged ship.
Situated right along the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego, the USS Midway Museum lends deep insights into naval aviation and one of the important chapters of American history. The museum is home to the iconic USS Midway, which has been one of the country's oldest aircraft carriers. A famed naval museum in the United States, it also shelters an arsenal of other significant carriers, most of which were crafted in Southern California. The museum is complete with interactive displays, simulators, myriad deck exhibits and the Battle of Midway theater, which paints a stirring picture of the naval battle that unfolded in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The museum has also been a host to an array of private, media and sporting events.
Rev up your engines and cruise on over to the San Diego Automotive Museum dedicated to the last 100 years of automotive development. From 'horseless carriages' to the 50s 'hot rods' parked in front of a simulated diner, car buffs will enjoy checking out the scores of shiny automobiles on display. Research sources are available, as are great gift ideas for any car enthusiast.
One of the most important ballparks of Major League Baseball (MLB), Petco Park is a baseball fan's haven and the base of the San Diego Padres. Its unique architectural layout is an ode to the region's geography and its natural allure. The framework of the stadium resonates of the surrounding peaks while the steel edifice and enclosing structures are designed like canyons. Landscaped with indigenous plants and featuring a lush area picnic hill, this magnificent stadium boasts to have the best seats for not only sports lovers but also concert goers.
The United States' largest urban cultural park is also one of the world's most scenic, with a dazzling array of museums, entertainment venues, botanical gardens and architectural landmarks. The world-renowned San Diego Zoo is just one of the many treasures nestled within the verdant expanse of this 1,200-acre (490-hectare) park, set aside as a reserve for public use as early as 1835. The 1915-16 Panama-California Expo and the 1935–36 California Pacific International Expo left behind a wealth of architectural jewels strewn across the park, including the California Building fashioned after the typical design of a Spanish Colonial Church and now home to the San Diego Museum of Man. Fifteen museums, award-winning theaters, an antique carousel, a miniature railroad and the Spanish Village Arts Center come together at Balboa Park to celebrate the cultural diversity of the state and its inspiring natural landscape.
San Diego's only anthropological museum is home to 70,000 artifacts, folk art and archaeological finds from all over the world. With mummies and ancient carved monuments, the treasures inside San Diego Museum of Man are abundant, but the building itself is also a San Diego treasure and city symbol. The California Building with its tile-capped tower was designed in 1915 by Bertram G. Goodhue and reflects a whimsical "California Mission" style of architecture. Exhibits inside explore the culture and lives of ancient civilizations of the Inuits, the Mapuche, and the Mayans, among others.
This museum houses the world's largest indoor model railroad, along with many other exciting exhibits. The museum's aim is to preserve the history of model railroading and to educate the public on its varied aspects. There's a toy train gallery as well while another area of the museum is dedicated to four large-scale models depicting the main railroads of the Southwest. A gift shop offers t-shirts, overalls and books. Note that the first Tuesday of the month is free for San Diego County residents.
These hands-on science and technology exhibits open a window into the future. Take a multi-sensory simulated space mission and encounter a rogue comet. Also on site, the world's first Omnimax Theater is a dome 10 times larger than a typical movie screen. If all that activity and education makes you hungry, hop into the museum's Galileo Cafe for a snack or sandwich.
History, food and fun are all within easy walking distance of the Old Town. Father Serra established the first mission here more than 225 years ago; Kit Carson helped to raise the first American flag in 1846. Now there are 37 restaurants and entertainment is abundant with artisans, dancers, galleries, hotels, mariachis, professional theatre and shops. Most restaurants and shops accept major credit cards. You can access this area from Interstate-5 by taking the Old Town Avenue exit, driving east and turning left on San Diego Avenue.
High above Old Town, sits the Presidio. First built in 1769 by the Spanish Army as a fort, the Presidio lookout still provides a panoramic view of the city. The adjacent museum was built in 1929 revealing a fine example of Mission Revival-style architecture. Inside the museum you will find clothing, artifacts, furniture, tools and army artillery.
A sailor's delight! Relax while a licensed captain takes you on the sail of a lifetime with Sail San Diego. Or for the more adventuresome, you take the helm! Cruise through the blue waters of San Diego Bay and see the city from a whole new perspective. During January and February, you can also board their 'Marine Biologist's' boat to get up close and personal with migrating whales.
Founded in 1769, Mission San Diego de Alcalá was the first mission founded by Father Junipero Serra in The Californias. Like many of the Spanish missions that were built along California's famous El Camino Real, the mission is actually the namesake of the major city it's near--in this case, San Diego. The mission experienced a tumultuous history since its founding, and its church building has since been rebuilt five times on the same site. Today, the mission stands as a remarkable example of early California history and is currently registered as a National Historic Landmark.