Holiday Shopping in San Diego: Your Favorite Museum Has It All
As you shop for gifts this holiday season, look to San Diego’s wide range of museum stores for unique options that also support your favorite institutions!
What does holiday shopping look like in 2020? You can shop in-store and/or order online from dozens of local museums, including some not currently open to visitors.
We created a Holiday Shopping Guide with some of our favorite selections from across our diverse museum community to help you find special gifts for all your loved ones. (Tip: Be sure to check with the museums before visiting, as operating hours and closure statuses are subject to change.)
The New Children’s Museum has a special selection of toys for toddlers and babies. Visit their online store and use promo code MUSEUM for 15% off your holiday shopping.
For Nature & Science Lovers
Here’s a unique gift for animal lovers: Private tours at the Living Coast Discovery Center. Visit native wildlife such as sea turtles, sharks & rays, and eagles. You will be escorted on a private tour around the Living Coast (currently closed to the public) for an experience that you and your family will never forget.
Give science-lovers of all ages the gift of experiences with virtual events and in-person programs from the Fleet Science Center.
The Birch Aquarium Gift Shop offers a wide variety of ocean-themed merchandise including home décor, accessories, plush toys, games, puzzles, decorative glass figurines, jewelry, and a large selection of children’s and scientific books. The store is accessible even if you are not visiting Birch Aquarium. (The aquarium does not have a virtual store, but you can place orders by phone/email. See website for details.)
Find unique holiday gifts at the San Diego Air & Space Museum Gift Shop in Balboa Park. Get anything from robotic kits to space food for the air and space enthusiasts in your life. The gift shop is open to the public on weekends or check out the museum’s online store anytime.
The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum Gift Store is a memorable stop for everyone. The gift store has a variety of unique aviation and Marine Corps items that are sure to delight. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m to 3:30 p.m.
Looking for a great gift for the garden lover in your life? Purchase an annual membership to San Diego Botanic Garden. For just $55 for an individual or $85 for an entire family, they can enjoy the 37-acre urban oasis all year long. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase your SDBG Holiday Membership.
Coming Soon: The San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) will be launching its online store with lots of nature, geological and dinosaur-inspired gift ideas. (Check the website for updates.)
For Art Lovers
Last summer, the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park launched the Regional Artists Market. RAM is a curated online market featuring select items from regional artists, tailored to be reflective of the moment. Best of all, its artists receive a full 70% of every sale and free shipping is available for all orders through December.
Head to the Museum Store at the Oceanside Museum of Art to find books, greeting cards, sculpture, paintings, jewelry, toys, vessels, and more by regional artists. Museum admission is not required to explore the many unique artworks created by artists exhibiting in OMA’s galleries.
Find colorful scarves, jewelry and home décor at the Visions Art Museum store. Products offered at the VAM are created by its members and local artists. While part of your purchase supports the museum, you will also be supporting one of VAM’s consignment artists. Shop online or visit the VAM store in Liberty Station.
Need options for the musicians in the family? Shop for books and figurines at the Museum of Making Music. The museum is currently closed for major renovations, but you can show your support by visiting its online shop.
Surprise the photographer or film lover in the family with a gift from the Museum of Photographic Arts. Geek out on a fun selection of apparel, camera gear and technique-based books from MOPA. Get 15% off the camera geek collection with promo code PHOTO101.
Look to Lux Art Institute for unique gift options, such as a print of “Greenman of Ooms Pond” (a never-before-exhibited image by collaborative artist team Kahn & Selesnick) or the pair’s travelogue “Truppe Fledermaus” (which includes staged absurdist performances in various locations including Europe, America, and Japan).
Lastly, get a gift from San Diego’s jewel box of fine art. The shop at the Timken Museum of Art offers books, catalogs, accessories and home & design features.
Other San Diego Favorites
For beautiful and unique products inspired by the Kumeyaay/Diegueño people, look to the Barona Cultural Center & Museum. The store carries a variety of books as well as handmade jewelry, basketry and pottery crafted by Native artisans. Visit the store in-person or place phone orders at (619) 443-7003. Mention the San Diego Museum Council for 30% off a single item through Dec. 30. (Some restrictions apply.)
Lead kids on an exciting search for strange and wonderful sea creatures with the children’s book “How to Hide an Octopus” sold at the Cabrillo National Monument. Check out this and other educational books at their online store.
The California Surf Museum has great options for your surf-loving friends, including the recipe book “First We Surf, Then We Eat.” Get this healthful collection of more than 90 recipes today along with other reads from the Oceanside resource center.
The Coronado Historical Association and Coronado Museum offer a curated collection of gifts inspired by the history of the San Diego Bay peninsula. Check out posters and postcards made by Coronado artists. Pick-up and delivery on Coronado are available every Thursday and Friday.
Operated by Franciscan Friars, the store at Mission San Luis Rey offers religious historical gifts, in addition to items by southwest artisans. Visit the largest of all 21 California missions and its store for presents from around the world, mementos and specialty books.
Help preserve America’s history by supporting the USS Midway Museum store. Find apparel from the bayside museum by visiting its downtown location or shopping online.
If you’re looking to gift a special San Diego experience, the Maritime Museum has gift cards available online for general admission to explore its collection of historic ships as well as a narrated cruise on San Diego Bay.
Holiday Shopping Events in San Diego
Every day during the month of November, the Mingei International Museum is featuring a selection of items from local craftspeople and international artists on their @ShopMingei Instagram for gift buying or self-indulgence. Get the details on how to participate in “30 Days of Shop Mingei Love” here.
Find the perfect gift at Japanese Friendship Garden’s Holiday Market on Tuesday, November 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Show your support to local artisans and enjoy the afternoon at the Japanese Friendship Garden. Shop unique items such as art, handmade crafts, and more. Bonus: Gift wrapping will be available on site to save you the time and hassle.
And, one last tip
Gifting annual museum memberships is also a great way to support your favorite institutions during this difficult year. It’s the gift that keeps on giving all year long and it’s always a perfect fit. While you are at it, consider purchasing a membership for yourself and take advantage of member discounts available at many museum shops. Happy Holidays!