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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Firehouse Museum is the oldest firehouse in San Diego and displays numerous old fire engines, including "The Lancaster," an 1841 hand-pulled steam engine. Also on display are rare photos and equipment from the 1880s, badges, uniforms, helmets and memorabilia from firefighters of days gone by. Items from San Diego and around the world are on display. Come here to learn about the old ways of fighting fires; the kids will love it.
In order to create a platform for the upcoming artists, the SDSU Downtown Gallery was established under the School of Art and Design which is a part of the San Diego State University. They have rotating exhibitions from time to time in genres of contemporary art, photography and visual art. If you are an art lover or student then you will thoroughly enjoy the collections that are kept on display at the gallery.
Take in the beautiful city scenes of the city at the Waterfront Park. The area lies along the San Diego Bay overlooking the harbor. Features such as play areas, interactive water fountains, native plant gardens and a space for public art. They offer rental spaces for private events like weddings, parties and much more.
HMS Surprise is a replica that pays tribute to Rose, a war-ship that is now a part of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. This ship also featured in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.