Weekend SPECIAL! Museum Fun Guide – The Great Outdoors
San Diego’s weather is going to be great this weekend, so it’s time to get outside and enjoy America’s Finest City. Our weekend fun guide will tell you how to make the most out of it with outdoor museum adventures all over San Diego County. (Shown Above: In the Balance by Artist Risa Puno is a temporary art installation located in the The New Children’s Museum Park and is free for the public to experience (no Museum admission required).
San Diego Botanic Garden
Explore the 37-acre urban oasis and 4 miles of meandering trails and ocean views, 5,300 plant species and varieties, and 29 uniquely themed gardens that represent 15 different regions and many habitats of the world. The San Diego Botanic Garden’s fully accessible natural wonderland is designed for children and adults, alike; explore your interests, learn about the plant world that surrounds us, and let nature fill you with a little wonder.
Discover their augmented reality art exhibition Seeing the Invisible and visit their first ever houseplant showcase World of Houseplants. And get your tickets now for this holiday’s biggest new event Lightscape! Following sold-out runs in the world’s largest cities, Lightscape illuminates San Diego Botanic Garden with more than one million lights, tunnels, fire, sculptures and artistic installations that come to life after dark with color, imagination, and sound. Reserve your tickets and parking now here.
Imperial Beach (Visitors Center)
Experience Southern California’s largest coastal wetland. Spend a beautiful day amidst nature at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. The Visitor’s Center is a good place to start. Take a guided nature walk, attend a free talk, or hike the various trails. Home to an impressive array of birds and wildlife, this reserve lets you truly experience San Diego’s natural beauty.
This Saturday August 27, from 11 a.m. to noon come and discover the richness that unfolds around the Visitor Center, be it upland plant adaptations or the significance of our estuarine habitat during this month’s Nature Walk.
La Jolla (Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins Exhibit)
Come face-to-face with Little Blue Penguins as they waddle, swim and glide about their new home. This new outdoor exhibit brings the world’s smallest penguins on their journey from hatchlings to adults, highlighting the challenges they face in a changing climate while celebrating the features that make Little Blues so unique and adorable! They’re the smallest species of penguin — less than 12 inches tall, and weighing just 2 to 3 pounds — and are known for their unique blue color, and their big personalities. Birch Aquarium is the only aquarium in the Western U.S. to house these gregarious seabirds. While there don’t miss the epic ocean views, living tide pools and enjoy a bite to eat at the open-air Splash! Café. Advanced reservations are required. Reserve your tickets here.
Museum of Us
Balboa Park (California Tower)
Enjoy the view from the top of the California Tower. Climb the California Tower and get a new perspective on San Diego and its history—visitors and locals alike won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind experience! Tower Tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday at the Museum of Us, with tours starting at 10 a.m. Cross this adventure off your summer bucket list and book your tour online here now.
Cabrillo National Monument
Point Loma (Naturally Speaking)
A visit to San Diego’s “only” National Park offers tremendous views of the San Diego region and excellent opportunities to explore the natural, historical and cultural history of the area. The Visitors Center is a good place to start your exploration of the park. It’s on the precipice of beauty, this park, rising above the Pacific Ocean over four hundred feet, as well as a site of navigation and west coast history with a California flavor all its own. The Cabrillo National Monument Park commemorates Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s West Coast exploration, Point Loma’s 19th century lighthouses and San Diego’s WWII coast defenses, and protects sensitive tide pools and coastal sage scrub habitat.
This weekend you can discover what it takes to be a citizen scientist and how can you get involved. Find out at the next “Naturally Speaking” talk on Aug. 26! Join the Cabrillo National Monument this Friday from 6 – 8 p.m. in-person at the Cabrillo auditorium or 6 – 7 p.m. via Zoom. RSVP for in-person or Zoom here.
The Marston House Museum and Gardens
Balboa Park (Music at The Marston)
Joyful, end-of-summer music returns to the Marston House Museum and Gardens! Get your tickets today at SohoSanDiego.org. Save Our Heritage Organisation presents an outdoor, three-concert series of Americana, folk, country, and blues music showcasing some of San Diego’s most celebrated singer-songwriters. (Fridays on September 2, 16 & 30). The historic rose garden is a beautiful setting for the series. Performed round-robin style, each concert spotlights three artists sharing the stage, music, and stories, making for an intimate and engaging program for all.
One of California’s finest examples of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Marston House was constructed in 1905 for George W. Marston and his wife, Anna Gunn Marston. George Marston is noted for many things but most prominently as a civic leader whose interest and work in historic preservation, conservation and history is well known. Spend some time exploring the grounds, formal gardens and canyon pathways in the shade of towering pine, eucalyptus and oak trees.
Mission San Luis Rey
Enjoy exploring the grounds and buildings of Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside. Your self-guided tour through the museum will take you to the time of the Friars and early California. The Mission’s Museum interprets the San Luis Rey Mission Church and its surrounding structures for the public. Housed in the former convento, the museum oversees all of the preservation and conservation efforts for the church and its extensive historical collections. Exhibits feature the history of the mission and include objects and artifacts from both the Spanish Colonial and Mexican periods. Check out the Mission’s upcomming events including the Retreat for Artists, Creators and Makers here.
San Luis Rey Mission Church is a part of the restored mission complex that sits on 56 acres of its original land. Ruins of the original convento arches, colonnade, officers’ barracks, and lime kiln are still on the grounds, as is the original mission cemetery – the oldest in North San Diego County. In the middle of the original central square is a massive tree. Planted in 1830, it is still alive as the oldest and first pepper tree in California.
Living Coast Discovery Center
Chula Vista (Zoo, Aquarium & Wildlife Refuge)
Discover Wildlife on San Diego Bay at the Living Coast Discovery Center. Set against the natural beauty of San Diego Bay and the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, the Living Coast Discovery Center is an intimate zoo and aquarium featuring the unique animals native to the Southern California coastline, including endangered Eastern Pacific green sea turtles, sharks, rays, reptiles, owls, hawks, eagles and more.
Looking for more adventure? Book an experience you and your family will never forget. Embark on a private tour of the Living Coast Discovery Center and visit native wildlife such as reptiles, sharks & rays, raptors, and more. Complete your tour with an up-close animal encounter!
Learn more and book your tour today here.
Mingei International Museum
Balboa Park (Mingei After Dark)
Grab the kids for under the stars fun with family-friendly films screened on the Mingei Museum’s outdoor Courtyard for Mingei After Dark. Bring your favorite snacks and they’ll provide the popcorn! Seating available but bring a blanket or a lawn chair for maximum comfort. Advance registration required. Doors open at 7:30pm for August 27th’s outdoor movie screening of Moana. Movie begins at sundown, around 8pm. Get your tickets here!
In addition to galleries for exhibitions and programming Mingei has a new theater and education center and amenities including gift shop, full-service restaurant ARTIFACT at Mingei and a café called CRAFT CAFÉ.
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum
Campo (Golden State Excursion)
Sit back and relax while the San Diego countryside rolls by during a pleasant round trip train ride on the historic San Diego & Arizona Railway. The Golden State is the Museum’s classic weekend excursion that has been in operation since 1986. You will depart from the Campo Depot for the approximately 45-minute ride after visiting the Museum’s gift shop and ticket office. The best views on this trip are on the end of the train and at the open door box car. Tickets and info here.
October is just around the corner. Purchase your tickets here for the annual Pumpkin Express Halloween Celebration. Ride in their decorated vintage railcars through the San Diego county mountains as fall descends upon Campo. Walk through the themed Display Building complete with Halloween scenes, a pumpkin patch, and creepy cast of ghosts and ghouls.
USS Midway Museum
San Diego Bay Front (Exhibits & Activities)
Welcome aboard America’s living symbol of freedom! Explore the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum. Walk up and touch the fighters, bombers, and helicopters that took naval aviation into the jet age. The USS Midway Museum is an unforgettable adventure for the entire family. Guests can spend the day exploring more than 60 exhibits with a collection of 29 restored aircraft. Get the details and your tickets here. Plus plan now to join the FREE community gathering of music, dance, birthday cake, history and more for the USS Midway’s Birthday and 1st Annual Multi-Cultural Celebration on September 10!
San Diego Natural History Museum
SD County (Canyoneers)
After a summer hiatus, the San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers are back in action. The new schedule of guided interpretive hikes just dropped. The 2022-2023 season kicks off September 18 with a morning hike in Mast Park, and continues with hikes every week through June.
The hikes are free, but capacity is limited and advance online registration is required. Members of The Nat have first crack at registration, which opens five weeks before each hike (four weeks for non-members). Serving San Diego with hiking expertise for nearly 50 years, the Canyoneers program is made possible with support from dedicated volunteers and proud partner Subaru of America, Inc. Ready to hit the trails? Find your hike and get all the details here!
San Diego Automotive Museum
Balboa Park (Cars & Coffee)
Coming up THIS weekend – A special edition of Cars & Coffee at the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park will be on Sunday, August 28th! All ages are invited to come enjoy free coffee and donuts; while, checking out some awesome cars! Located in front of the San Diego Automotive Museum in the parking lot. Plus the event is free to attend and show your car. What’s better yet is that the museum offers discounted admission that day. And that’s only $10. Providing you buy your ticket before 10 a.m.
Maritime Museum of San Diego
San Diego Bay Front (Sea Monsters and Pirates)
Sea Monsters and Pirates – Fun for kids of all ages. -From BOARDED! A New Pirate Adventure! to Sea Monsters: Delving Into The Deep Myth, there are plenty of outdoor adventures at the Maritime Museum of San Diego on San Diego Bay. Plus other ways to explore the seas with Historic Bay Cruises, Swift Boat Naval History Tours and more. Find out more and get tickets here.
San Diego African American Museum of Fine Arts
Downtown (The Buses Are Coming)
Yolanda Franklin, Executive Artistic Director of Common Ground Theatre presents “A Poetic Tribute to the Freedom Riders.” Come and experience the works of Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, and others. Admission: This event is free; donations will be accepted. Sunday, August 28 from 4 – 5:30 p.m. outdoors at the Quartyard in downtown San Diego.
The Junípero Serra Museum
Presidio Park (River’s Edge Walking Tour)
Reserve your spot now for this Sunday’s Walking Tour at the Serra Museum on August 28th. This walking tour focuses on the Presidio de San Diego, buried underground below the Serra Museum. Visitors will learn about the historical significance of this site going back to deep time, how the unique river and marine environment attracted people to the site since the beginning of time. Afterward the tour visitors can browse the new exhibition inside the Serra Museum including an interactive experience telling the stories of people that came to settle the area, and why the Presidio continues to be a significant site. Register here.
Capacity is limited for this tour and visitors are encouraged to RSVP early. Tour check-in is at 12:55 p.m. and the tour starts at 1 p.m. his walking tour will cover multiple elevations, that include uneven surfaces and paths, some sloped or with stairs, and few with handrails. Appropriate footwear is recommended.
Japanese Friendship Garden
Balboa Park (Garden Tours)
The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park represents the friendship between San Diego and its sister city in Yokohama, Japan. It binds the two cultures to create a unique experience for visitors from all over the world. The Garden includes a bonsai exhibit, a moon-viewing deck, beautiful black pine trees, azaleas and ornamental plants such as camellias, magnolia, wisteria and cherry blossom trees, and the largest and oldest bronze Kannon statue in the United States. Get your ticket here now.
Resever your spot now for the garden’s September 2 Otaku Smash Night! This is a ticketed event for ages 21 and up. Otaku Smash Night invites guests to express themselves through the art of Japanese pop-culture. The agenda includes music, performances, a cosplay contest, food and more. Infomation and tickets here.
Lemon Grove Parsonage Museum
Lemon Grove (History Alive)
The Lemon Grove Historical Society kicks off its 45th FREE History Alive lecture series on September 1 at 7 p.m. with Jesus Benayas, charismatic president of the House of Spain, Balboa Park, discussing the case of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to explore the California coast. Long thought to be Portuguese, he is actually Spanish. Dr. Wendy Kramer broke the story after her exhaustive research into 16th century Spanish archives. Benayas will display her book in Spanish and English. Keep up to date with all their events on Facebook here.
And plan now to join the Lemon Grove Historical Society for High Tea at the Lee House Saturday October 1st.
OTHER GREAT EXHIBITS
Nya’waap Illyuw Uuchyuwp — Our Way of Knowing
Barona Museum and Cultural Center
Abstract Painting Workshop
Bonita Museum & Cultural Center
Street Legacy: SoCal Style Masters
California Center for the Arts Museum, Escondido
Donald Takayama, The Shaping of a Surfing Legend
California Surf Museum
Chicano Park Open Daily
Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center
San Diego’s Chinese History, Arts & Culture
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition
A View from the Periscope
Coronado Historical Association
Jaws in IMAX
Fleet Science Center
Gaslamp Walking Tours
Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
Natural History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Art & Education
Heritage of the Americas Museum
NextGen: Graduating Artist Exhibition
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Central) Balboa Park
Limitless Growth, Limited World
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) North
Voices from the Rez
La Jolla Historical Society
Free Train Depot Museum Tours
La Mesa Depot
Lemon Grove Parsonage Museum
Lemon Grove Historical Society
Marine Corps Depot Command Museum
MCRD Command Depot (Limited Base Access)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Downtown
Museum of Contemporary Art , La Jolla
100’s of Functional Cars, Planes, Trains and More
Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum
Smithsonian Free Museum Day
Museum of Making Music
Programs & Events
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
Picasso: Drawings and Prints
San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Natural History Museum
History of San Diego Police Department
San Diego Police Museum
Putman Foundation Collection
Visions Museum of Textile Art
Haunted Evening Tours
Whaley House Museum
Women’s Equality Day Festival
Women’s Museum of California
Pathways to Freedom
WorldBeat Cultural Center