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Plan Your Trip to the USS Midway in San Diego, CA

Plan Your Trip to the USS Midway in San Diego, CA

Growing up in north San Diego county, there was always something to do. Within about an hour’s drive from our house, we could find ourselves in the mountains, the desert, Mexico, at the beach, or even at Disneyland. 

I’m no longer a SoCal local, but my roots are deep and I’ll always be a local at heart. It’s been a treat to re-experience southern California through the eyes of my children as we return to visit family (“This place is like paradise, Mom!” my oldest told me during our last visit). One of our favorite destinations is the USS Midway, located downtown, right by the San Diego Airport. Today I’m going to talk about everything you need to know to plan your trip to the USS Midway (this will be especially helpful if you’re taking kids).

USS Midway

Plan Your Trip to the USS Midway

The USS Midway is an aircraft carrier turned museum. This “floating city at sea” has more than 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft onboard, and will keep you busy for hours. The prime location and beautiful views off the ship’s deck are also worth mentioning, because San Diego sure is pretty. <3 

USS Midway

USS MidwayOK, let’s get started…here’s how to make the most of your trip to the Midway.

Give yourself several hours to explore the ship. The Midway is HUGE. We visited for about three hours, and we didn’t even have time to check out the sick bay or the engine rooms! Our kids loved playing in the control centers. If you have school-age kids with you, expect to spend some extra time sitting in the Captain’s chair and playing with all the controls.

USS MidwayCheck out parking options before you go. Parking spots might be hard to come by, and prices vary depending on the day. You can check out parking rates and details here. You might want to look into public transportation, like the Coaster, or consider walking if you’re staying nearby. Check out all the transportation options here.

Take the audio tour. When you first step onboard, you’ll have the option to take a self-guided audio tour. Do it! They’re easy to use and full of cool trivia. This is a way to really richen the experience of your visit. This picture below was taken right after Claire learned (from the audio tour) how much each link in the chain she was sitting on weighed. It was a lot.

USS MidwayDecide where you’ll eat. You might want to eat at one of San Diego’s many (many, many) amazing restaurants (you should be able to find something you like within walking distance). We thought it was cool to eat on the ship (the kids were excited about this), so we ate at the Fantail Cafe, which has lots of healthy options and was surprisingly good. 

USS MidwayBring a baby carrier if you have a baby. I saw lots of strollers on-board, but the tours require you to walk through narrow alleys and step through doors. If you want to do the tours and explore the ship’s living quarters, you’ll get around easier with a baby carrier.

USS MidwayDon’t forget your camera! Photo opps abound. 



Bring your curiosity. The ship is full of knowledgeable volunteers who love answering questions and sharing trivia. Some of them have even served on the USS Midway as crew members. My eight-year-old loves asking questions, and the helpful volunteers loved answering him.

You might need sunscreen! The other highlight for my kids was running around on the top deck, where all the planes are. If you plan on spending a lot of time out there, bring your sunscreen. It gets hot, and the sun is pretty intense when it bounces off that deck. You might want a hat, too (for yourself and the kiddos). 

USS MidwaySchedule time for some other iconic San Diego activities while you’re there. Within walking distance of the ship you’ll find Harbor Cruises (these are really, really cool…we did one last time we visited) and Seaport Village (shopping and dining). You could make a full day out of the Midway and Seaport Village (and maybe still cram in an hour-long harbor cruise, which goes under the famous Coronado Bridge).

You might even get lucky like we did last time and stumble upon Brad Paisley and John Fogerty making a music video! 🙂 

Brad Paisley Shooting Music VideoIf you’re local, get a membership! The membership prices and bonuses (shop and cafe discounts) can’t be beat. 

The USS Midway is a MUST-SEE. Make visiting a priority if you’re ever in the area.

Join us on Facebook for more family-friendly places to take kids, tons of free printables, and meal planning help.

And speaking of San Diego and cool places to take kids, check out the posts below (click on the picture to go right to the post).

Things to do in Carlsbad, CA with Kids

Things to do in Oregon with Kids

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum Spruce Goose



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Hi Carrie,
What a fun post! I visited the USS Midway several years ago when our teacher decided to take our severe handicapped class down to see and tour it. Great time! Funny that you are now in the Dallas area as so am I. We moved from Riverside County to Sanger in November. My heart will probably always still be there in Murrieta…

Our dentist was located near Plaza Camino Real shopping center in Oceanside, which is called Westfield Mall or something like that now. I worked there at a sporting goods store back from 1989-1992, which is how I came to really know that area. We kept our dentist there even after moving to Murrieta in 1993, so after our dentist appointments, we’d usually grab Rubio’s or Mexican food from the place right off the water in Old Carlsbad for lunch then head to Carlsbad State Beach to eat lunch or just walk and pick up rocks, body surf a bit, then head home. Best place! Quiet, just crashing waves, people relaxing and sunbathing, people jogging and cycling up top along the walkways ~ great place!

Thanks for some fun memories,
Barb 🙂

We visited a retired ship in Alameda. I can’t remember the name at the moment. But, they are really amazing! Thanks for sharing at the Inspiration Spotlight party. Pinned & sharing.

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