History Museums in San Diego

Top History Museums in San Diego, CA

History Museums in San Diego

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Museums
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12 places sorted by traveller favourites
Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

What travellers are saying

  • 4stevemandy
    Seal Beach, CA7 613 contributions
    It’s a nice collection of Marine Corp. Aircraft and vehicles. The staff is super friendly too! Unfortunately this place may be closing soon. Sign the online petition by scanning the barcode in my pictures. Thanks!
    Written 26 March 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • GitchSup
    Duluth, MN843 contributions
    We went here while visiting Old Town and I’m glad we stopped. If you enjoy history this is worthwhile. The court room is actually functioning and was set to hold a trial not long after our visit. There are family portraits throughout the house and tons of information about the Whaley’s and the land the house sits on, which was originally where public hangings took place. It is said to be haunted, but we didn’t have any occurrences during our visit.
    Written 1 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Joel S
    Phoenix, AZ15 contributions
    I found Hostile Terrain 94 to be a pretty powerful exhibit. Looking at the map where 3200+ people have passed away while attempting to cross the US-Mexico boarder really made me stop and think. To me, that alone was worth the visit.
    Written 28 April 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • GlobalGypsy_13
    San Diego, CA2 687 contributions
    This small museum on a downtown corner tells the story of the Chinese in San Diego through objects & a courtyard garden with sculptures and a koi pond; at 9 a.m. on Saturdays all are welcome to a free Tai Chi/Qi Gong class.. There's also an active monthly lecture program at a nearby building and a special exhibit in the annex across the street. The fun dragon show just closed (Jan. 2020) and next up is Chinese children paintings. Admission includes all 3 venues. There's a small gift counter in the annex and metered street parking. For a memorable cultural experience head to the Gaslamp area in downtown San Diego.
    Written 2 February 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • FuzzyBeaver
    Montreal, Canada1 136 contributions
    If you go, be sure to get the audio guide tour. The audio is extremely well done and provides lots of background and interesting stories. The house jam packed with artifacts, all with a story. It is small but definitely worth visiting.
    Written 5 March 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • BonnieNimmo
    Marble Falls, TX1 209 contributions
    We really enjoyed walking through and browsing the incredible information and evolution of horse-drawn transportation. I never knew there were tandem carriages! This was a very interesting excursion if you’re in Old Town. And it’s free!
    Written 22 February 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Rainier72
    Lynnwood, WA676 contributions
    Like many of the museums in the Old Town State Park, the Wells Fargo Museum takes a few minutes to go through. The museum does a good job of telling some of the history of Wells Fargo. The main feature is the stagecoach exhibit. As with most places in the park, guides and people manning the museums are in costume. For good measure, there's even an ATM here. The museum is one of many great stops when exploring the park.
    Written 25 August 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Nostalgiyeah
    Bellevue, WA1 625 contributions
    Beautiful and lively place to visit. On the weekend I happened to visit, they happened to host the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations and it was a memorable experience. Live music, food stalls from a lot of different countries, people having a good time sampling food from various cultures - it was awesome!
    There are a number of small cottages, each one representing a country. I didn't visit all of them. The few I stepped into had decor showcasing life in that particular country and had a lot of information about the culture and tourism in those lands. There were also representatives who were willing to answer queries. I'd highly recommend visiting, all the more so if they are hosting events or gatherings!
    Written 6 February 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Cac1234
    Germantown, NY1 791 contributions
    The San Diego History Center is worth a visit. We wish that we had visited the history center at the beginning of our visit as we learned a great deal about the area and Balboa Park from informational movie we saw there. This is a good first stop when visiting Balboa Park.
    Written 9 March 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Cori F
    Moneta, VA204 contributions
    A wonderful way to learn about the men and women who have served our country. I particularly like the women in the military display. The greeter, a veteran, was delightful to talk to.
    Written 28 May 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Mister-Markie
    San Rafael, CA2 874 contributions
    This museum is a bit of a surprise in several ways!

    First, I have seen the "chapel" many times while driving by, but did not realize it was a "museum." Although, to my ignorance, I was not really sure what it was! I finally looked it up and saw the museum designation, so here I am.

    I parked elsewhere in the park (by the neighborhood) and wandered a bit, finding other park sites and then cresting a ridge from which I could see the river valley and the top of the museum complex. I came down the path and entered the museum's portico which is open to the west and with great views, and closed to the east except for small windows. At the far end is the museum, and outside the entrance is a wine press that was the gift of the Town of Mallorca, where Father Serra was born. It is original, and OLD! What a great gift.

    The museum is free, and you enter a large sanctuary type space, open and airy and with some exhibits to get you started. The is a small room immediately to your right upon entering, with a great history and display of San Diego as an overview. Good background information.

    This is where my second surprise came - I did not realize that this museum was built in 1926, and was the result of one man's efforts, after San Diego said "no, thank you" to his idea. What dedication it took to achieve this! And it is nearing 100 years old! Wow.

    Inside the large space, there are stairs to the rear that take you upstairs to additional rooms and more displays. But my best surprise was a large mural painted along the walls of the stairs, and leading up and around the corner to continue on!

    The mural shows Baja California and Alta California (as it was known back then) and the routes the expeditions took to reach San Diego. It shows land and ship journeys, along with details such as settlements, where they camped each night, and other details. And the map is scaled so each step of the stairway equals 40 miles. Smart idea!

    Continue up and you find an upper room filled with more displays, and stairs to the tower room, where you can see for many miles. Great views.

    Overall, a cool place to visit. It is free, but donations are welcome, and I understand it is part of the museums network in Balboa Park so hopefully they can continue to grow the exhibits. Right now there isn't a lot compared to other museums, and there really is little about Father Serra himself, but what they do offer is good stuff and well presented.

    Stop by and take a peek - don't let ignorance get the better of you, as I did!
    Written 12 August 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Therese M
    Victorville, CA7 contributions
    The Villa Montezuma Museum is now open for tours! Staffed only by volunteers, it is open for tours three days a week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 1, 2, 3, and 4 PM). The volunteer guides are knowledgeable about the home, its original occupant Jesse Shepard. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as we were taken through each room, especially the beautiful art glass windows. I had been fascinated with the home since childhood when I thought it was a fairy castle. And no, there are no ghosts in this home. As the volunteer said, "It's not haunted, it's enchanted.
    Just note the building, built in 1887, is not ADA compliant (they're working on it) and no photography is allowed inside the home. It's a great place to visit to learn about a slice of San Diego's history.
    Written 21 March 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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