San Diego Natural History Museum in San Diego, CA

1788 El PradoSan Diego, CA 92101
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Situated in Balboa Park in San Diego, California, this museum offers a unique learning experience for guests of all ages. Exhibitions have included Whales: Giants of the Deep, Water: A California Story, and many others. The giant screen theater offers large-scale videos and 3-D experiences in a 300-seat venue. The museum also features events like whale watching, nature hikes and more.


from San Diego Natural History Museum
The San Diego Natural History Museum is a flagship institution in Balboa Park, showcasing the regional natural history and unique biodiversity of Southern California and Baja California. The NAT has four floors of exhibitions, a 3D theater, and San Diego’s only Foucault pendulum.

Hidden Gems: Get to know The Nat's sparkly side with more than 100 of the best, brightest, and most spectacular selections from our gems and mineral collection. These hidden gems will be on every floor of the Museum.

The Backyard is an exhibition that allows children 5 and under to explore the natural world through play.

Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage gives visitors a rare “backstage” glimpse of the museum’s storage areas.

The Cerutti Mastodon Discovery showcases fossils of a mastodon discovered in San Diego that yielded the earliest evidence of human activity in the Americas.

Baja’s Wild Side features the breathtaking photography of Dr. Dan Cartamil that explores Baja California’s Pacific Coast region.

Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science explores the past, present, and future of citizen science through rare books, art, photographs, and historical documents.

Discover the rich biodiversity of the region by taking a journey through the various habitats that exist in the region in Coast to Cactus in Southern California.

From dinosaurs to mastodons, dig into the rich fossil history of the region in Fossil Mysteries.

Examine the infrastructure of the regional water system in Water: A California Story.

Skulls features nearly 200 of the weirdest, wildest, and most fascinating skulls from The Nat’s vast research collections.

Giant-screen theater: Sit back in our stadium-style, giant-screen theater, featuring daily showings of our flagship film Ocean Oasis and a rotating calendar of thrilling 3D films.

Reserve San Diego Customer Reviews

Heather H.
Buhl, ID
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Really great!"
July, 2018
The whole family loved this museum! So many different and cool exhibits. It did feel quite warm on the higher floors like the A/C wasn't working properly but still totally worth it to see everything.
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Tip: Bring a stroller for the littles.

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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Murray, Utah
"Good museum, great movies"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed January 09, 2019 NEW
We were able to get into the museum free because of a membership we have at another museum. I would not give this one five stars as a museum--maybe 3 1/2--but I gave it this rating because by paying only $5 we were able to watch ALL 3 of their big-screen movies. The other museum nearby charged $10 per movie. What a great way to spend an afternoon. We hit the free Tuesday for locals without knowing it, so the museum was pretty crowded, but good anyway. I would rate it higher for kids than adults.
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Shakespeare, Canada
"nice afternoon"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed January 08, 2019 NEW
much more than expected. Some very nice displays that caught a 4 year old's eyes and interest. Something for everyone in the family. Don't overlook some of the old science books they have. Very interesting illustrations. Worth the stop......a nice 2 hour visit...
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Prescott, Arizona
"a lot of information in a small building"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 22, 2018
from sea world to dinosaurs to desert fauna and animals. they all are on exhibit here. great for kids and adults alike
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New York City, New York
"Mediocre place"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed December 17, 2018
We bought a one day pass for all the museums in balboa park so we picked some big ones to visit. This natural history museum is the first we went in, there happens to be a 40 minute 3D movie showing at that time so we went to watch that first. It is about national parks in the states. After the movie we took a quick walk through the 4 floors of the building. There are various displays of skulls, specimens, Dinasours but nothing very interesting.
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Portage la Prairie, Canada
"Be Inspired by Nature"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 28, 2018
Well worth a visit when you're in San Diego. A wide variety of displays to appeal to all ages. Good food at the cafe (try the corn chowder). 3D movies were excellent.
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San Diego Natural History Museum is located at 1788 El PradoSan Diego, CA 92101
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Frequently Asked Questions about San Diego Natural History Museum

Is parking available?
You can park in the Inspiration Point parking lot (on the east side of Park Blvd., between Presidents Way and the Balboa Park Activity Center) for easy access to the heart of Balboa Park via the free tram. There are also numerous smaller lots throughout the Park, including the lot next to the Museum's east side, the south Carousel Lot on Village Place and Park Blvd. and the north Carousel Lot.

Do you offer valet parking?
Valet parking is offered in front of the House of Hospitality (and The Prado restaurant) in the Plaza de Panama. There is no valet parking on Mondays.

Is the museum handicap accessible?
The north fig tree entrance to the Museum is accessible. There are six accessible parking spaces in the Natural History Museum parking lot which is located on the east side of the Museum at Village Place and Park Boulevard (to your left off Village Place). There are also four accessible parking spaces in the South Carousel parking lot adjacent to the museum parking lot. The handicap access ramps are located at the northwest corner and the southwest corners of the Museum.

Are wheelchairs available for rent?
Wheelchairs are available for free. Check for availability and request a wheelchair at the Visitor Services Desk at either entrance. The wheelchair is available for use while at the Museum. 

Do you allow pets inside the museum?
No, only service dogs and their handlers are allowed. Service dogs must be on a non-retractable physical leash that is less than six feet in length. Each visitor may only have one service dog.

Does the museum offer assistive listening devices?
Yes, you can request the infrared listening device headsets at the north entrance Visitor Services Desk. The Assistive Listening System is available for lectures and films in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater.

Is there any place to buy food?
Located in the Atrium, the Dino Café serves an assortment of coffees, teas, panini wraps, salads, and snacks.

Can I bring my stroller?
Yes, you can bring a stroller. Note: Strollers are not allowed inside the Museum on a Resident Free Day. Park strollers in the designated area outside the north entrance near the Moreton Bay Fig tree.

Does the general admission ticket include the Giant Screen Theater?
Yes, films in the giant-screen theater are included with paid admission.

What is Wifarer?
Wifarer at theNAT is a new mobile app that helps you find your way around the Museum with maps and navigation. It is an exclusive, in-Museum experience that helps you find what you need and offers access to videos and stories* that bring the Museum to life. Wifarer at theNAT provides a whole new way to explore the Museum.