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Best Museums in San Diego

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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.

Located 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 simulators, myriad deck exhibits and the stirring Battle of Midway theater. The museum has also been a host to an array of private, media and sporting events.

The San Diego Museum of Art is the region’s oldest, largest, and most visited art museum, providing a rich and diverse cultural experience for nearly 300,000 visitors each year. Located in the heart of beautiful Balboa Park, the museum’s nationally renowned permanent collection includes Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings, and 19th and 20th Century American paintings and sculptures. In addition, the museum regularly features major exhibitions from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule of supporting cultural and educational programs for children and adults. Exhibition text is always in English and Spanish. The Museum’s research library offers access to an extensive collection of art history publications.

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 found here is the world's first Omnimax Theater, a dome 10 times larger than a typical movie screen. If the exploration of the science center makes you hungry, pay a visit to the museum's Galileo Cafe for a snack or a cup of coffee.

The San Diego Natural History Museum is the second oldest scientific institution in California. A bi-national museum, its mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education and exhibits. The museum strives to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment. Between exhibits on dinosaurs and the Arctic to mammoths and the Titanic, this museum is sure to interest the old, young and everything in between.

San Diego's 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 the 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.

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