America’s finest city has plenty of options for adventure and entertainment. San Diego offers beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and tasty food and dining like no other. But there is another side to this incredible city. The U.S. military has a strong presence here and when you experience this southern California town, you will most certainly hear the sound of freedom any time you go out. Experience this unique walk in the footsteps of thousands of military sailors aboard the USS Midway Museum.
Military forces in San Diego both land and sea
Whether it’s the F-18 Hornets jetting by or the Blackhawk Helicopters hovering above; you know you are in San Diego. Not to mention that when you are loitering along Harbor Drive in downtown, you will see ships and other water vessels in this area. One of the most special ships you may encounter here is the USS Midway aircraft carrier.
Visiting a museum can be an interesting and enlightening experience. But this interactive museum will most certainly leave an impression on you. As one of America’s longest serving aircraft carriers, the USS Midway naval aircraft carrier was decommissioned in 1992 and now turned into historic museum.
San Diego USS Midway Museum background
The Midway opened as a museum in 2004 and by 2012 has now surpassed one million annual visitors. In 2015 it earned the name of the most popular naval war museum in the United States.
You will satisfy your aviation history as you peruse around the extensive aircraft displays on the flight deck. Enjoy the many guided or self tours that include the pilot’s ready rooms, sleeping quarters, galley, primary flight control, and many other locations on the ship.
Historical Facts at the USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway naval aircraft carrier has a comprehensive military history dating back to the 1940s. She has seen battles that would make your stomach churn upside down and then some. From the wartime operations in Vietnam to the relentless battles in the Indian Ocean, to the rescues out at sea and Operation Desert Storm.
The entire area of the Embarcadero is welcoming and pleasant. You will be impressed as you stroll along side the dock next to the ship as you approach the entryway to pay admission. You will be welcomed aboard and cross the plank entering the main deck (Hangar Deck). You can choose your own experience via an island tour, talks, and an audio tour.
USS Midway Museum sparks military experience memories
My visit to the USS Midway Museum sparked many memories for me. I spent four years active duty in the U.S. Navy in a P-3 Orion squadron. So I was familiar with a lot of the aviation aspects here at the museum. One thought that crossed my mind while perusing through the ship was ‘If these walls could talk.” While I was stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, a few of my shipmates were stationed on the USS Midway. They described the experience as challenging and somewhat chaotic all the time. The shipboard life for those in the Navy is not easy and visiting this museum gives you a profound respect for those who serve or have served.
Included in the museum admission are the flight simulators which offer insight into the experience of air to air combat. Strolling through each compartment, you will notice how small and how valuable space is. An aircraft carrier is like a small town and has all the things you need as a service member.
An experience at the USS Midway Museum allows you to learn about the battles and war campaigns this ship and its crew endured for the sake of all our freedoms. You will get an up close look at 25 restored aircraft static displays and over 60 exhibits. It is mind boggling when you see the areas where sailors slept, showered, and worked endless hours in the control room and other compartments.
Tips on how to visit the USS Midway Museum
- The amount of time one should allow to truly get the full experience here is to allow 2.5 to 3 hours of time.
- The list of items prohibited include the following: No outside food or beverage, glass containers of any kind, pets, bicycles, skateboard/scooters, weapons of any kind.
- Parking can be a little tricky in this area. There a small park lot to the south side of the ship area. There is the USS Midway Museum Ace Parking lot (#1075) of which the cost can be between $10 and $20. The address to this lot is at 910 Harbor Drive. However, there are many various parking lots scattered throughout this area.
- Stop by the little café and gift shop on the main hanger deck. In the anticipation of the upcoming film, “Top Gun,” there is some very cool memorabilia and collectibles including T-shirts and unique gear to purchase or collect. I am a big fan of the Top Gun movie, so it was really cool to see some of these collectibles.
Here are a few interesting facts in numbers with respect to this amazing museum:
- 1945 USS Midway is commissioned as the largest ship in the world
- 4500 crew members
- 80,000 haircuts annually
- 13,500 meals daily
- 500 pies for dessert
- 1000 loaves of bread daily
- 2000 compartments
- 1500 telephones
- 212,000 horsepower
- 3.4 million gallons of fuel
- 18 decks
- 1001 feet long
- 30,000 light fixtures
- 69,000 ones fully loaded
- 1992 Decommissioned in San Diego, CA
- 2004 Opened as the USS Midway Museum*
We highly recommend a visit to this museum to anyone visiting the San Diego area. It is a great way to spend time with family and friends and enjoy a very unique way to learn about military history. The museum also offers special discounts and no fee for veterans and their families certain times of the year, including Veteran’s Day.
*Info sourced from the Midway Museum brochure.
Read more on her wartime campaigns here:
You will receive a welcome aboard and will move to proceed to cross the plank entering the main deck (Hangar Deck). You can choose your own experience via an island tour, talks, and an audio tour. Here is a brief 3-D walk through video.
What To Expect
Be prepared to be amazed! This experience left me speechless and in awe!
The museum excursion includes the flight simulators as well, which offers insight into the experience of air to air combat. Strolling through each compartment, you will see how small and how limited space there is on this ship. An aircraft carrier is like a small town and has all the things you need as a service member.
A walk through tour experience at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego takes you into the life of a sailor on an aircraft carrier. You will learn about the many battles and sacrifices made for the sake of our freedoms.
To plan your next visit to the museum and for admission pricing information, check out the website below.
USS Midway Museum
910 N. Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
The museum is also wheelchair accessible as well as offering many other ADA services including American Sign Language and elevator access on all three main levels.
We highly recommend a visit to this museum for anyone visiting the San Diego area. It is a great way to spend time with family and friends at the same time learning about military history.
I really can’t wait to visit San Diego, with all the wonderful information you have in your blog about things to do there! This museum is something my dad would have absolutely loved. It’s incredible to think how many people lived and worked on this one ship. Not to mention all those haircuts! The San Diego Bay looks like a destination in itself, too. Thanks for introducing me to this museum!
Thank so much for reading Cynthia! Experiencing this museum has really given me an even deeper appreciation for my fellow comrades in the Navy and about shipboard life. It is really fascinating seeing this aircraft carrier up close and personal!