Maritime Museum of San Diego in San Diego, CA

1492 North Harbor DriveSan Diego, CA 92101
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Overview

One of the finest collections of historic ships across the globe, Maritime Museum of San Diego offers exceptional exhibits, daily public tours, cultural events, educational programs and more for the whole family to enjoy. The museum is located on the North Embarcadero in downtown San Diego and is also home to the world’s oldest active ship—Star of India.

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our San Diego Travel Experts
  • Parking fees apply.
  • Self-guided tour.
  • Tour duration: approx. 2 hours.
  • Home to the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India.

Description

from Maritime Museum of San Diego
The Maritime Museum of San Diego enjoys a worldwide reputation for excellence in restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels. The museum has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship the Star of India.

The Museum displays permanent and temporary exhibits on maritime history, commerce and exploration and stages popular public events such as “The Chocolate Festival”, “Pirate Buccaneer Birthday Bash”, “Festival of Sail each Labor Day weekend”, and family sleepovers on the Star of India.

The MacMullen Library and Research Archives is a resource for members as well as scholars and researchers from around the world. Along with our peer-reviewed quarterly, Mains'l Haul: A Journal of Pacific Maritime History, they encourage and enhance the study of maritime history.

Founded in 1948, the museum grew out of the earlier efforts of a group of local historians and maritime enthusiasts who acquired the sailing ship Star of India in 1927. Now fully restored, the Star of India is maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers and skilled craftsmen and sailed at least once a year.

The museum’s collection also includes the 1898 steam ferry Berkeley, the 1904 steam yacht Medea, the 1914 Pilot, the state’s official tall ship Californian -a replica of a mid 19th century revenue cutter, and the H.M.S Surprise, a magnificent replica of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate featured in the award-winning film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”

Reserve San Diego Customer Reviews

Philip Robertson
AU
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Great seafaring museum"
February, 2018
This was a great museum exploring the sailing ship era as well as submarines, patrol boats and other ships
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Tip: Give plenty of time to see it all

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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theaddledcowgirl
Beresford, South Dakota
"So Many Ships!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed April 15, 2019 NEW
My son wanted to see this museum and we stopped. We both enjoyed it as there were many different types of vessels to tour including one used in Master And Commander. The museum was very nice and the docents were knowledgeable and friendly.
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753randih
Chilliwack, Canada
"Go back in time"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed April 13, 2019 NEW
The Maritime Museum is a great place to step back in time and see how life was on many of the early sailing vessels. There are several different size ships to explore and being able to go on board gives you a glimpse into life on the sea. Lots of small places to climb though in the submarine so would suggest you skip that part if you aren't in great shape. You exit through a museum and shop.
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Josh F
"Deep dive into details"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed April 13, 2019 NEW
You could cruise through the sailing ships, steamboat and submarine in this museum for a truly pleasant overview of how ships have shaped and interacted with San Diego as an core aspect of our history. But if you have the time, this museum offers a depth of detail and some remarkable people who can give you those kinds of experiences where you learn so much about the universal through deep study of the particular. You have here a chance to feel ( and luckily not smell) what life was like aboard a sailing ship, from hard tack to cannon fire to medical care such as it was. In the sub you can appreciate the apocalyptic dangers we faced in the Cold War with resonant implications for our current efforts to reign in roague despots with nuclear ambitions. One senior docent in the bowels of the steamship helped us to understand appreciate and marvel at the mechanisms and working life of those massive and precisely machined engines. The docent at the swift boat exhibit was there in Vietnam and able to put us in those jungle rivers, hot, murky and dangerous situations where we tried to do right. So, you could stroll through, visit the gift shop, fet a couple of souvenirs, and have a lovely time. Do it. But if you have the time and the desire to know our world better through specific slices of history, take a day and spend the tome and you will truly benefit from your visit. Oh, and cost of admission is peanuts compared to most museums.
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Alpat
Warrington, United Kingdom
"If you like History then this is for you."
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed April 12, 2019 NEW
Just a very short walk from the Cruise Terminal is the San Diego Maritime Museum, not the largest museum, but one of the best. If you like to See, Feel and Touch history then you are in the right place, there are a number of historic vessels which are all floating in the water and after you have visited one you move onto the next ship. It’s a very popular tip for school parties and the guides are very enthusiast and knowledgeable. Depending upon your taste, the star of the show could be the last Diesel Submarine USS Dolphin along with a Russian B-39 Submarine. Once you have visited all the ships, you exit through the small Museum and shop which house some replica models and various artefacts from days gone by. If you like Naval History then this is the place for you.
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Gulliverelviajero
"Pretty cool"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed April 11, 2019 NEW
Lots to see, get a little much after a while. The HMS Surprise was awesome, the b29 Russian sub was cool too. The old steamboat is the actual museum itself. We didnt look at any other boats. Just the 3 took us about 2 hrs. Lots of info on the evolution of the port of San Diego and the boats used here historically.
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Maritime Museum of San Diego is located at 1492 North Harbor DriveSan Diego, CA 92101
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Frequently Asked Questions about Maritime Museum of San Diego

What are the hours of operation?
Summer hours for the museum are 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. After Labor Day, hours of operation are from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Hours of operation are subject to change and may vary with special events.

Is museum parking available onsite? 
No. However, there are multiple parking spaces and lots located around the museum:

Metered Port Parking Spaces:
The lot directly in front of the Maritime Museum has Port of San Diego metered spaces. They are enforced 10:00 am – 8:00 pm from Monday – Sunday and are good for up to 3 hours. Port does routinely check if a car has been parked for longer than 3 hours and will ticket. The 3-hour time limit applies to Sundays on Port parking. These spaces are not available during some special events and during Festival of Sail.

Day Lots:
There are also several day lots (pay to park) within a few blocks of the museum including:
County garage across the street holds about 257 cars, pricing varies $10~$20 per car.
The Midway lot is open to the public.
Take the trolley. Trolley stations have lots at El Cajon, Amaya, Grossmont, Qualcom, Mission Valley, Fashion Valley and Old Town.

Is the museum appropriate for all ages?
Yes.

What exhibits are at the museum?
While the museum does include traveling and rotating exhibits, exhibits include:

  • Swift Boats At War In Vietnam
  • Charting The Sea
  • Age of Sail
  • Age Of Steam
  • Harvesting The Ocean
  • San Diego's Navy
  • To The Brink Of War
  • And more