The Maritime Museum of San Diego is world-renowned for restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels, and is home to one of the finest collections of historic ships anywhere. The world’s oldest active ship, Star of India sits majestically nearby, and a full collection of ships and exhibits await your visit when you find yourself in San Diego.
The Maritime Museum is a hub of maritime history, and visitors of all ages will enjoy the multimedia exhibits and marveling at the varied restored, historic ships. The San Salvador, for example was the first European vessel to reach America’s West Coast, a startling sixty-five years before the first English Settlement came to be on the continent, and eighty years before the Mayflower ever made its famed voyage.
The Star of India is perhaps the main attraction, and has something of a cursed history. Built in 1863 at the Ramsey Shipyard in the Isle of Man, this unusual iron ship began its sailing life with two almost-deadly voyages to India, surviving a collision and a mutiny, and ending up in the middle of a cyclone. Shortly afterward, her first captain died on board. The ship subsequently went on to make 21 circumnavigations, and carried many immigrants to faraway lands.
The resident Soviet-era diesel electric sub is also worth checking out. Three hundred feet in length and displacing more than 2,000 tons, the B-39 is one of the largest submarines ever built. Don’t miss the USS Dolphin, the deepest-diving submarine in existence, and of course, the official tall ship of the State of California, appropriately named The Californian. This tall ship was built in San Diego from the ground up in 1984, just in time for the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games.
After exploring your way around the ships and submarines, you will want to visit the many informative and family-friendly exhibits, such as Cook, Melville, Gauguin: Three Voyages to Paradise. Also, Age of Sail, Age of Steam, Charting the Sea, Harvesting the Ocean, and San Diego’s Navy give an informed look at the history of maritime travel, and in particular, the maritime history of this coastal region.
Children 5 and under are free.Tip: Pair this attraction with visits to the USS Midway Museum and San Diego Harbor Excursions. Both are in walking distance and you can easily spend the whole day on the waterfront (shops and restaurants are also in the area--we recommend eating at Seaport Village). Show up early and spend the whole day!