Natural History Museum

4/5 (1 Reviews)
Fossils, gemstones and dinosaur bones: explore all the richness of Southern California's natural history at this popular museum. Younger kids will love the "learn and play" activities and the whole family can enjoy a free 3D movie daily.
Gate Price
Adult: $17.00
Child: $11.00
Skip the ticket line!

Once you find out the age of many of the resident artifacts in this museum, it won’t be nearly as impressive to learn that this San Diego institution has been around for 134 years. What will impress are the unique, colorful, and interactive displays found at the San Diego Natural History Museum. This is a great place to learn about the rich history of this beautiful part of the country. Focusing largely on the southern California and Baja California region, these exhibitions combine contemporary science with multimedia art to deliver very relevant and memorable messages about the Earth's past, present and possibilities for the future. Your family will enjoy a spending the day at the museum, checking out major exhibitions such as Fossil Mysteries, which uncovers the San Diego region’s secrets beginning 75 million years ago, with everything from-from dinosaurs to mastodons. You can also enjoy fine-art photography galleries, a bite at the Dinosaur Cafe, and giant-screen films shown every hour!

Here’s a little sample of the exhibitions and features in store for you at the San Diego NHM:

  • All That Glitters: The Splendor and Science of Gems and Minerals: San Diego County is one of the best-known gem producing regions in the world. Discover how the tremendous forces of the earth create the dazzling gemstones and precious metals we wear as jewelry. This exhibit also shows off a sampling of natural minerals, precious jewels and rare gem- artwork.
  • Fossil Mysteries: San Diego is an archaeological hotbed, and was once a haven for such the giants of prehistory: dinosaurs! Examine fossils and use archaeological tools to find the answers to the mysteries of bones and fossils. You’ll travel through a period of 75 million years, from the time of dinosaurs to the ice ages, and watch as modern-day southern California and Baja take shape.
  • The Downing 3D Experience: Check out the giant Dolby®3D system in the 300-seat Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater, where you can watch a film, free with admission!
  • Water: A California Story: This exhibition chronicles the impact of water on California’s history through photos, maps, video, and hands-on activities. Learn about current, local issues on land and in the ocean and the effect of a changing climate on the region’s water supply.
  • Aerial Portraits of the American West: Photographs by John Shelton: This exhibition is a comprehensive look at the work of this multi-talented artist, musician, machinist, AND geologist, John Shelton, whose love of flying enabled him to take incredible photographs of stunning geological features.
  • Ends of the Earth: From Polar Bears to Penguins: An in-depth look at the nature and changes affecting our polar regions, letting you relive polar expeditions through the eyes of explorers and conduct your own iceberg experiments.

Don’t miss a trip to the San Diego Natural History Museum, and do bring the whole family! This museum has an array of “Learn and Play” activities for your little ones, making it just as unforgettable for them as it will be for you.

Reviews for Natural History Museum

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 4 out of 5 stars (based on 1 customer ratings)
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[3 of 4 customers found this review helpful]

We loved it!
By Travel Girl Verified Reviewer from San Francisco, ca on
Good exhibits, Big museum, Beautiful architecture
Bottom Line:
Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Natural History Museum:

One of the nicest museums in San DIego - lots to do and see.

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Phone: 619-232-3821


1788 El Prado
Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101


Daily, 10:00 am-5:00 pm


Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. All holiday hours are subject to change without notice.


1788 El Prado
Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101

Driving Directions

From downtown: Go east on A Street. Turn left (north) on 12th Avenue. The name changes to Park Blvd. Pass under the pedestrian overpass adjacent to the Museum. Turn left at the first traffic light beyond the overpass (Village Place) and left again into the Museum's parking lot. From the I-5 N or S: Exit at Pershing Drive and stay in the left lane. At the traffic light (Florida Drive), turn left. Follow Florida Drive, passing the traffic signal at the Naval Hospital. The next street is Zoo Place. Turn left onto Zoo Place and go up the hill to the traffic light. Turn left onto Park Blvd. At the next traffic light turn right onto Village Place. Turn left into the lot directly behind the Museum.
Skip the ticket line!

Proceed to either museum entrance and present your Go Select pass at the ticketing counter for admission. Get in and enjoy!

Included admission does not apply to separately-priced exhibitions and events.

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