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Mormon Battalion Museum – An Amazing San Diego Historical Site

Have you ever heard of the Mormon Battalion Museum?

If not, this is a place you have to visit!  It is located in Old Town San Diego.  Old Town San Diego is a historic area with lots of buildings and museums from the 1800s.  Old Town San Diego is a fun way to learn history.

We recently had a chance to check out Old Town San Diego and the Mormon Battalion Museum was our favorite stop!  We will tell you all about it in this post so keep reading!

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Mormon Battalion Museum Tour

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Where Is The Mormon Battalion Historic Site Located?

Old Town State Historic Park

The Mormon Battalion Museum is located in Old Town San Diego.  If you are familiar with San Diego you will know that this area is a high tourist area.  Many people love coming to Old Town to get authentic Mexican food.  It is also a historic district with many historic buildings and museums that are replicas of structures from the 1850s when California first became a state.

Mormon Battalion Museum

The Mormon Battalion Museum is not located in the main part of Old Town San Diego.  You have to walk about a block or two from the main area.  It isn’t too far.  If you GPS it, you can start at this museum and then head over to the other part of the historic district.

Parking at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site

Parking at the Mormon Battalion Museum

During busy seasons, parking is a nightmare at Old Town San Diego! But if you are specifically going to the Mormon Battalion Museum there is a free parking lot on site.  We went at a very busy time and had no problem finding a spot.

Just know that you will have to park at another spot once you leave the museum.

Do I Need Tickets or Reservations for the Mormon Battalion Historic SiteMormon Battalion Museum

Tickets are not required.  Reservations are sometimes required during busy times but we went during Christmas break and still had no trouble.  It is a good idea to call ahead and make sure that you can get in but not necessary.  We were able to get a tour within 10 minutes and we had a party of 14.

So no need to worry if you just show up!

How Long Is the Tour?

Mormon Battalion Museum Tour

A few things that you should know so that you can plan accordingly.  The tour takes about 40-45 minutes.  My kids wanted to stay longer as they have gold panning after the tour.  They loved that.  The tour is also free!  So, this is a great activity that won’t break the bank.

What to Expect from the Mormon Battalion Historic Tour

Mormon Battalion Museum Tour

The tour is really awesome.  The Mormon Battalion Museum is an interactive museum. As you enter the building you are guided to an area where you meet real people who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints during the time that the saints were basically being kicked out of Illinois. The United States Army came and asked 500 men to be apart of the Mexican-American War.

How the Tour is Set Up

The tour guides (sister missionaries) will lead you through four different rooms which represent different parts of the journey to San Diego. 

The first part reminds me of Harry Potter because the photograph’s actually talk and walk out of the frames.  It is really cool!  You get to follow these individuals and learn about their stories.

The next room a video is shown all about the lives of the people and their decisions and why they wanted to join the army.

Mormon Battalion Museum Tour

Living History Museum

After the video, you are led into a room that resembles the camp ground of the army.  You watch a video describing how migrants enlisted in the army.

You then proceed to a room that resembles living quarters for the battalion.  A volunteer in the tour group gets chosen to try on all the items that the soldiers had to carry.  These items included a heavy musket, a backpack made of wood, and food.  It was a lot of extra weight as the soldiers marched from Nebraska to San Diego.

This really brings things to life when you get to experience hands-on learning.

Concluding in San Diego

After getting the demonstration we went into another room and watched a different video that showed how the people who served in this militia were spared actually having to fight a battle.

They finished their march to San Diego and ended up helping the people who lived there establish a city. They built houses and roads and were some of the first Americans in the San Diego area.

Old-Time Photograph 

As you conclude your tour, you and those who you came with will get a really cool black and white souvenir photo.  I would post a picture of it but ours didn’t turn out so hot.  I look pretty bad!

Gold Panning

Gold Panning at the MOrmon Battalion Museum

After the photograph, you step outside into a courtyard.  This area was the highlight for our family.  The kids will get to pan for gold.  You can pan for as much gold as you can find but will only be able to take one piece as a souvenir.  There are waterproof aprons that your kids can wear to avoid getting wet.  Our older kids were fine but our little ones needed the aprons for sure!

Our Thoughts on the Mormon Battalion Museum 

This concluded our tour! We were very impressed with the presentation and interaction along the way.  If you are nervous about this being an establishment ran by a church don’t be.  You will not be preached to.  This site’s purpose is to honor those members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that served in the Mexican-American War.

The Mormon Battalion Museum is a fun interactive museum and maybe the best museum in all of Old Town San Diego!

Will my Kids Like the Mormon Battalion Historic Site?

Gold Panning at the Mormon Battalion Museum

Absolutely!  Your kids will love this tour.  Even our little kids had the attention span to enjoy the entire presentation. This tour is a fun family outing that your kids will love.  I highly recommend the Mormon Battalion Museum if you are headed to San Diego!

Tours Available Around Old Town San Diego

Old Town Trolley Tour

Things to do in Old Town San Diego - Tour

The Old Town Trolley Tour is a nice option because you will not have to deal with having to find a parking spot on the street or having to pay for parking in a private lot.  It will take you to more locations besides Old Town San Diego as well!

San Diego City Guided TourOld Town San Diego

The San Diego City Guided Tour also has a stop at Old Town San Diego.  If you are looking for more options this might be a great idea.

Have Fun In San Diego!

Mormon Battalion Museum Tour

You will have a blast in San Diego!  I hope you get to go to Old Town and see the Mormon Battalion Museum!

If you will be in San Diego and need more ideas for what to do, be sure to check out my post on San Diego in 3 Days the Ultimate Vacation and if you are thinking about having a SeaWorld San Diego Vacation I also have a great post to help you out there. The Best Cities in California is also a great read if you are planning on seeing more of the wonderful state of California!

Facebook Travel Community 

If you have any questions be sure to ask in the comments below or even better join our Travel Community on Facebook.  The travel community is a place where you can ask any question about any trip and will be sure to get help from everyone in the group!  I also try to post any good deals that come my way!

 

 

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95 Comments

  1. This looks like a great day trip or day on a longer duration trip. I will add it to my list of things to do when I visit the area.

  2. I love interactive museums. They really add to the experience. This museum sounds fun, and next time I’m in San Diego, I will have to check it out.

  3. My kids love panning for gold. They have that feature at Killington’s adventure center in the summer so my kids get to do it often. The tour looks like a lot of fun too.

  4. It would be interesting to visit the Mormon Battalion Museum. We used to go to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat for gold mining as kids. And, my great-great grandfather used to be a gold miner there. It’s likely there’s ancestors who did too.

  5. I love San Diego, and this looks like a fun and different tour to add to our next trip. Thanks for all the great detail!

  6. This looks like a fun museum! I need to get back to San Diego on a vacation, and not a work trip. So much to see and do!

  7. We went to San Diego several years ago and the shuttle driver for our hotel took us on a little tour of Old Town. I wish we’d had time to explore it more on that trip, but I guess we’ll need to go back. I love living history museums. My kids would LOVE to pan for gold! I’d probably have a hard time getting my boys to leave. 🙂

  8. This looks like a great historical tour for families of all ages. The hands on interactive components would be my favorite as this bring the history to life!

  9. Interactive museums are so much fun, this looks like a must-do in San Diego! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. I have only been to San Diego once and spent most of the time by the bay! This is worth a return trip, thank you for sharing!

  11. We visited Old Town San Diego last summer, but we missed this. I love living history museums, so I know I’d like this. Very cool!

  12. Very cool! Sounds like some history that I didn’t know about, but I love learning more about our country’s history.

  13. I grew up in San Diego and Old Town has some of the best authentic Mexican food. I love interactive museums and this would be a great one to bring the boys to the next time we visit San Diego.

  14. I have been to Old Town a gazillion times and don’t think I’ve ever been to the Mormon Battalion Museum! Looks fun! Thanks for the info!

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