[ Insider Tips ]

Maritime Museum of San Diego: What to Know Before You Go

Founded in 1948, the Maritime Museum of San Diego has restored, maintained, and operated historic vessels to preserve maritime culture and history. Located on the North Embarcadero, the museum features numerous interactive maritime exhibits, several historic vessels, educational programs, volunteer opportunities, and water adventures. Moreover, the museum’s historic ships, including the World’s oldest active ship, The Star of India, are available for daily public tours.

Read below to know what to expect when visiting the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Michael Rasmussen / Wikimedia Commons

How to Get to the Museum & Parking Tips

Address & Phone

At Star of India Wharf
1492 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101-3309

Phone Number: 619-234-9153 Ext 101 (for general information)

• Click here for Contact Form
• Click here for Google map

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is located on Harbor Drive on the North Embarcadero near the corner of Ash Street, just a few blocks west of Interstate 5. From Interstate 5 North or South, you will take the Airport exit. Look for signs that read “Embarcadero-Maritime Museum” on the freeway and after exiting onto surface streets.

Because Downtown San Diego is a popular tourist destination, finding parking may be difficult. However, you can reserve parking through SpotHero, an app available for iPhone and Android users. Further, metered parking is available as well for a maximum of three hours ($2.50 per hour).

Other Parking Areas:

  • USS Midway Museum Parking Lot at Navy Pier (Ace Parking)
  • B Street Pier Parking Lot (ABM Parking)
  • Spring Hill Suites and InterContinental Hotel (Ace Parking)
  • Ace Parking Lot corner of Broadway and Pacific Highway
  • Wyndham Bayfront Hotel
  • County Waterfront Park (Ace Parking)

Public Transportation & Ride Sharing

To save time, consider using ride share apps like Uber or Lyft, calling a cab service, or using a PediCab or Charter Bus Service. Furthermore, MTS bus and trolley stops are only a few short blocks from the museum. For more information, visit the San Diego MTS’ website.

General Admission & Hours of Operation

General Admission

Adults – $20.00
Senior (62+), Active Military(w/ID), Students (13-17 yrs) – $15.00
Children (3-12 yrs) – $10.00
*Children (2 and under) – Free

Hours of Operation:

  • Open daily from June 1st to September* – 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (*some ships/museum close for special events/maintenance)
  • Fall hours starting after Labor Day weekend – 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Exhibits at the Maritime Museum of San Diego

Visitors can learn about local and world maritime history through multiple interactive exhibits. Explore humanity’s fascination with mythical sea creatures during “Sea Monsters: Delving Into the Deep Myth” (open summer 2020). Examine vintage color-tinted maritime postcards via “Wish You Were Here”. Learn what it was like to live aboard a fighting sailing ship on the replica ship HMS Surprise through “Man-Of-War: Adventures Aboard A Fighting Ship”, and much more. Each exhibit creatively details the lives and roles of seafarers and their vessels in local and world history. Moreover, note that permanent and traveling exhibits are included with admission.

Additionally, self-led and docent-led group tours are offered as well.

San Diego Maritime Museum / San Diego Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum of San Diego Sailing Adventures

If you’re searching for exciting times out on the water, the museum boasts several tours so you can stretch your sea legs.

Take a 45-Minute Tour on Pilot

Explore the Bay on restored Pilot. Launched in 1914, Pilot served as San Diego’s chief pilot craft assisting major commercial chips in the Bay until 1996. Restored by the museum and relaunched in 2002, Pilot takes visitors on public daily cruises. In addition, the vessel hosts school groups on “Economy and Ecology” voyages that enable students to help navigate and perform water experiments.

Note that this add-on activity only costs $10 plus museum admission on a first-come, first-serve basis. Moreover, daily boarding times begin at 11:15 am with the last run at 3:45 pm.

Visitor Tip: Use the restroom prior because there is no restroom aboard.

75-Minute High-Speed Tour on a Legendary Swift Boat

Feel the need for speed? This unique behind-the-scenes tour takes visitors aboard a historic Swift Boat, PCF-816. You’ll feel the power and history of the twin 12 cylinder Detroit Diesels as the boat heads under the Coronado Bay Bridge to the Naval Base, aircraft carrier basin, and Naval Air Station North Island. This high-speed run includes an expert guide narrating the vessel’s military role.

4 Hour Sailing Adventure on the San Salvador Replica

Go back in time on the San Salvador. A replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s 16th-century ship that arrived at the port we now call San Diego, the gorgeous San Salvador takes visitors on a 4-hour sailing journey. Visitors are encouraged to check-in early at the info/ticket booth, and check-in ends at 11:30 am. Lasting four hours, participants return at 4 pm. Further, tickets range from $49 to $99.

Other sailing tours include:

Maritime Museum of San Diego
The Hausmann Quartet / Facebook

Concert Series

Now in its fifth season, The Hausmann Quartet and Maritime Museum of San Diego present Haydn Voyages: Music at the Maritime, a quarterly concert series performed aboard the Berkeley. One of the museum’s ten historic world-class vessels, the 1898 steam ferryboat that operated for 60 years on the San Francisco Bay. All concerts take place on select dates on Sundays at 4 pm, and tickets cost between $10-60. If you’re a lover of classical music with the best ambiance, look no further.

Visit the Maritime Museum of San Diego

Now that you know what to expect when visiting this iconic San Diego museum, book your trip to San Diego today!

Tags: