Marina District San Diego

Marina District – San Diego – USS Midway

The Marina District San Diego is a great place to visit if you are planning a vacation to San Diego.

The Marina District includes exciting attractions such as the USS Midway, Maritime Museum, Seaport Village, and Embarcadero Marina Park.  It is also close enough to enjoy the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego.

Let's explore all the adventures near the Marina District San Diego!

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Where Is the Marina District San Diego?

San Diego Marina District

The Marina District San Diego is in the southwest section of San Diego.  It spans the area from the international cruise ship terminal to the Embarcadero South Park.

This area includes the USS Midway and Seaport Village. There are lots of fun activities located in this area.

Let's check out all the things to do in the Marina District San Diego area!

USS Midway Museum

Marina District USS Midway

The USS Midway is the top attraction in the Marina District San Diego, so we will spend a good amount of time focusing on this aspect of the district.

Directions to USS Midway Museum

Things to do in Old Town San Diego - Tour

Obviously, you can drive to the USS Midway.  But there is another option, a San Diego Trolley Tour if you want to avoid the crowds and having to find a parking space this is a great option.  One of the stops is located at the USS Midway.   It not only stops at the USS Midway but also stops at many of the Marina District San Diego locations.

If you do book the trolley tour company I suggested above, they will pick you up from your hotel or you can meet the trolley in Old Town San Diego.

The trolley is a great way to see all the amazing things in San Diego.

Parking at the USS Midway Museum

Parking at USS Midway

If you do decide to park at the USS Midway, there is a parking lot located directly next to the ship. (to the north) The fee to park is $10-$20 depending on holidays and events.

Finding the Parking Lot

We went on a really busy day just after Christmas and we had no problem getting a spot.  The bigger challenge was finding the parking lot and getting to the entrance. We were coming from the south, and many cars ahead of us were turning into Seaport Village, which is just south of the ship.

We didn’t see any signs for parking and kept going to get past the bottleneck.  When we did get to the correct spot to turn in, we needed to turn left, and had to wait for quite some time because of the amount of oncoming traffic from the north.

Be aware that even if the road is this busy for you, there should still be parking. Don’t give up!

Tickets for the USS Midway Museum

USS Midway Hours and Admission

Hours and Admission

Hours: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Adults $26

Child $12-$18

Purchase Ahead of Time

There are two lines when you arrive. One for pre-purchased tickets and a ticket window to buy your tickets.  If you already have your tickets you can walk right on the ship.

With that said, we purchased our tickets on the day of and it wasn't crowded.

Season Pass

You can use the cost of your admission towards the purchase of a season pass.  We were offered that at the ticket office.  My son loved this place so much that I really considered this.

What To Expect at The USS Midway MuseumUSS Midway Theater

There are three main levels on the USS Midway.  The top-level is referred to as the Flight Deck, which is where planes landed and took off from.  The mid-level is referred to as the Hanger Deck or Main Deck. This is where you enter. The bottom deck is called Below Decks, also referred to as City at Sea. 

There are also other areas that are on the exterior or just below the flight deck.

Start Your Adventure

As you start your adventure aboard the USS Midway, it might be a good idea to start with the film in the USS Midway Theater.  Upon showing your tickets for entry onshore, you climb upstairs to get to the enclosed hanger deck.  The theater is just off to your right as you enter the ship.  The film is about 15 minutes and depicts the importance of the USS Midway and the soldiers who fought for our country.

I really enjoyed the film and highly recommend taking the time to see it.  My kids did really well throughout the time and enjoyed learning about the ship and the airplanes.

Hanger Deck and Adjacent Areas

USS Midway in the Marina district

After watching the film head over to get your informational headset (free of charge).  There is a kid option and an adult option for each area though out the USS Midway.

The Hanger Deck is on the same level as the theater.  The Hanger Deck has many vintage planes from WWII.  The exhibits are great for both old and young.  There are placards near each plane providing details about its use. And some areas allow you to jump into the cockpit, take a look around, and pretend to be a pilot.

Our Experience 

USS Midway

Our four-year-old son loved the planes he could get in!  He wanted to wait in line for each one, and we had to drag him away from these areas. 

We knew he loved it and the time, but it hit us again when my husband took our son a couple of months later to Hill Aerospace Museum in Utah, which also has a gallery of planes.  Our son had a good time but said it was missing his favorite part.  While there, he told my husband he had been there before (he thought he was at the USS Midway and not in Utah ), but asked why he couldn’t get in the planes!  

Gallery Deck

USS Midway

From the Hanger Deck, you can also easily access the crew’s sleeping quarters along the exterior, and from there, climb up to the Gallery Deck.  The Gallery Deck is not listed as a separate level but is located just below the flight deck.    

Explore the Corridors 

USS Midway

Seeing the sailors’ bunks and adjacent areas was a treat.  Mannequins are in some of the areas to give you a bit more flavor of how the areas were used.  I enjoyed walking past a window shop that had packaging on the shelves of treats and movies from an earlier time period.  A blast from the past!

As you keep moving along the narrow corridors, you soon arrive at the Anchor Chain Room and get a view of how large the chains to the anchor are.  From this room, you can access the Command Information Center and Carrier Air Group space, as well as the office and sleeping quarters for officers.  

Command Information Center

USS Mid way

The Command Information Center has various instruments and machines used in the aircraft carrier.  You can sit down at a few of the controls. What is great about this area and other areas is that there are individuals there who are available to answer your questions.  

Pilot Ready Rooms

The Pilot Ready Rooms has areas that highlight the different flight squadrons and their insignia.  You can learn about the Freelancers, Vigilantes, the Chargers, and others, and see and learn about their symbols and sit down where they sat to get pre-flight briefings.  

You may also want to check out the Helicopter History Exhibit.  

Aircraft Gallery and Flight Deck

USS Midway Guide

The Aircraft Gallery is located on the flight deck outside.  The Aircraft Galley has 26 restored carrier aircraft from 1942 and more.  On the Flight Deck, you really get to see firsthand how much space these planes had to be able to land their planes.

From the flight deck, you can go up to the bridge to see where the captain oversaw flight operations.  This is a big draw, and we recommend you do this earlier in the day. During busy times, the line to get to the bridge will grow, and guests may be prevented from entering the line.

Below Deck

USS Midway below deck

For me personally, while I enjoyed looking at the planes, and being outside on the flight deck, my favorite part was going below deck.

Before going below deck, the immensity of the ship itself hit me, but once I went below deck, the sheer amount of sailors, food, and supplies needed to make the ship function hit home.  It also hit home that while carriers were used in war, there were many days that sailors were not engaged in battle.  

Day to Day Living

You will walk through a cafeteria and medical and dental offices.  There are planning rooms and grooming rooms and other areas that are needed to provide for day-to-day living and to survive on the ocean for an extended period of time.

I really enjoyed walking below deck and seeing how the men and women lived on the ship.

Will your Kids Like the USS Midway Museum?

Marina District San Diego USS Midway

My kids loved the USS Midway!  We went with another family and in total, we had 10 kids, ages 1 year to 12 years.  Everyone had a great time.  If it wasn't so crowded they would have had even a better time because you can climb in all the airplanes.  We had to wait in line at each plane.

I highly recommend taking your family and enjoying the USS Midway in the Marina District San Diego area!

How Long Can I Expect to Spend at the USS Midway Museum?

USS Midway

Plan to spend at least two hours at the museum; although you can easily spend four hours.  The ship is massive, and unless you are training for a race, it is going to take time just to get to points throughout the ship.

Are There Food Options on the USS Midway Museum?

USS Midway Food

Yes.  There is a café area on the east side of the Hanger Deck (take a left when you enter and keep walking).  There are also eating options in the surrounding areas.  

Gift Shop

USS Midway Museum

There is also a gift shop near the eating area that you can explore.  My son spotted some toy airplanes and was so excited he had Christmas money so he could buy one.  He loves those planes! 

Seaport Village

Marina District - Seaport Village

Image Courtesy of Seaport Village

Seaport Village is a waterfront dining and shopping area in the San Diego Marina District. It is the perfect place to visit on a San Diego getaway.  There are over 70 shops, galleries, and dining locations in this area.  It is a great place to walk around and enjoy the ocean.

Embarcadero Park

Embarcadero Park Marina District San Diego

On the flight deck of the USS Midway, you can look out and see this amazingly gigantic statue!  The statue is entitled Unconditional Surrender.

This area is called Embarcadero North Park.  It is known for having concerts and festivals.  It also is just a great place to fly a kite and hang out.

International Cruise Ship Terminal

Marina District International Cruise terminal San Diego

Image Courtesy of

If you want to go on a cruise out of San Diego this is the area where you will want to board the ship.

Can I Park My Car at the Cruise Port in San Diego Marina District?

My biggest question when leaving for a cruise is “where do I park my car?”  At the international cruise port parking is available for $8 a day. There are also Park N Fly locations nearby.

What Cruise lines go out of San Diego?

  • Carnival Cruise Line.
  • Celebrity Cruise Line.
  • Crystal Cruises.
  • Disney Cruise Line.
  • Holland America Line.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line.
  • Princess Cruises

Carnival Cruise line has the most cruises in and out of San Diego.  So if you want to plan a few days out to sea be sure to check out the itineraries before your trip! If you are unsure of which cruise line to go on, here is a list of the best cruise lines. 

Maritime Museum

Marina District Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum in the San Diego Marina District has one of the world's greatest collections of historical ships.  You can walk the decks of historic ships.  There are also on-the-water adventures!


The Maritime Museum of San Diego is located on Harbor Drive near the corner of Ash Street just a few blocks West of interstate 5.  As you get off the freeway there will be signs to direct you to the museum.


9:00 am – 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm in the summer


Normal Ticket Admission:

Adults $20

Teens $15

Kids $10

There are so many more options.  If you want to see a show or go on a boat ride these ticket options are also available.  Ticket prices will vary.

How Long Should I Plan to Be at the Maritime Museum

Most people spend about 2-3 hours here.  If you are doing a sail experience they can be up to 4 hours long.

Gaslamp Quarter Near the Maria District San Diego

Gaslamp District San Diego

The Gaslamp Quarter is located very close to the Marina District San Diego.  It is an area full of shopping and eating.  The nightlife in this area invites a younger crowd.  There is a theater and comedy clubs located here.

Marina District San Diego Tours

San Diego Harbor Cruise

San Diego Cruise- Marina District San Diego

In the Marina District San Diego, you can get a Harbor Cruise tour.  It is a relaxing way to spend some time on the water.

San Diego Speed Boat Tour

Another way to speed some time on the water is a Speedboat Tour.  This is a fun exciting way to see the Marina District San Diego from the water.

San Diego Guided Tour with Harbor Cruise

If you are interested in seeing it all but really want a local to guide you throughout the city this Guided San Diego Tour will give you both a harbor tour plus a look around the city.

San Diego Go Card

San Diego Go Card
Image Courtesy of

The San Diego Go Card is a great option if you are planning on visiting lots of sites.  It will save you money overall!  It does include the USS Midway!

Our Experience In The Marina District San Diego

USS Midway Marina District San Diego

We had an incredible time in the Marina District of San Diego!  I wish we had more time to play!

There are lots of amazing things to do in San Diego!  We focused on Sea World San Diego, the beach, Balboa Park, Old Town San Diego and the Mormon Battalion Museum, and of course the Marina District San Diego!

Planning on traveling more in California and want to see some of the Best California Cities to Visit? Awesome,  I hope you get to explore more of this amazing state!

Facebook Community

If you have any questions join my Facebook Travel Community You can ask any questions you have about upcoming trips and everyone is happy to help you plan your trips.  I also try to give exclusive travel deals that companies send me.  It is a great group to join!


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  1. The USS Midway Museum looks very much like the Intrepid Museum in New York City. I love museums like this. It really gives you a feel for what it is like for the military personnel. How cramped the quarters are and what they go through to serve and protect our nation. I’m so grateful that so many men and women help protect us.

  2. Love this area of San Diego! Most of my conferences were at the Convention Center and attended a lot of events on the Midway. Such a cool ship! Great review of a really fun and interesting area.

  3. I think we are going to drive the coast of Cali next summer and end in San Diego. This will be very helpful in planning our trip.

  4. We loved exploring the Midway when we went. I didn’t know about the harbor cruises though; we will definitely try one next time we are in San Diego!

  5. It looks like there is a lot to do there. We’ve never been to San Diego, but will for sure keep all of these things in mind when we go. I think it would be fun to take a cruise from there and do all of these fun activities the day before.

  6. I love being near the water in whatever city I’m in, so I would be all over this! The museum looks like an awesome way to spend a day too!

  7. As many times as I’ve been to San Diego, I’ve yet to to go to the museums here. We’ll have to check it out next time. Thanks for the guide!

  8. The marina district in San Diego looks like it has something for everyone. My girls would love the museum. I haven’t been to San Diego since I was 15. I would love to take my girls this summer!

  9. I have lived in San Diego most of my Life and only have ever see the outside. Guess I should fix that sooner than later.

  10. This place looks like lots of fun and perfect for learning. It reminds me of Patriots Point in Charleston, SC. Have you visited that one?

  11. This looks so neat! Thank you for all of this information! My brother lives in San Diego and I have been there to visit only once, but during that time, we definitely didn’t get to the marina district. I will make sure that I add it to my list the next time I am out there – my husband and daughters would love this!

  12. Thanks for the tour! 🙂 I definitely want to go see an ocean someday when our little ones are old enough to travel well.

  13. Would love to see everything about the Battle of the Midway. One day once we can go out again hope to explore this!

  14. I always enjoy reading your reviews! Comprehensive and full of cool ideas to add to any trip itinerary. Thanks!

  15. I love San Diego and the USS Midway is a must-see! It’s been a few years for me! Thank you for the memories and the itch to go back!

  16. Great post! My son would love the museum. We will definitely plan to visit there if we make it to San Diego.

  17. I really love this field trip. i didn’t appreciate it as a child but as an adult i am glad we went on it and you’ve reminded me i need to take our daughter. thank you!

    1. My kids really like it, but I can imagine as a field trip you would be allowed to climb in all the planes like you can when it is just mom and dad.

  18. Wonderful review of things to do in this area! I haven’t been there for many a moon, but remember it fondly!

  19. I lived just north of San Diego for awhile back in the early 2000’s and never experienced any of these. Someday on a return trip I’d love to try a handful of these!

    1. Yes, there are so many fun things for kids to do in San Diego and in October it is kids are free month at a lot of places.

  20. This is the ultimate planning guide you need. I grew up in San Diego and was hoping to get back there in April with the boys. That is on hold for now. Even though I lived there, I have not been to the USS Midway. My boys would absolutely love it.

  21. What a cool place! Definitely on my list to visit now after reading your post. My husband would love that! Thank you for all the info! I need to pin this!

  22. I went to San Diego several years ago and it was beautiful! We did not see the Marina district though…I will have to be sure to check that out next visit! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Great article! I never been to San Diego but hoping to visit California soon this is a thoughtful and helpful post!

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