Top 20 San Diego attractions

San Diego Air and Space Museum

See some of the world's most famous planes and spacecraft.

The San Diego Air and Space Museum is one of 16 excellent museums at Balboa Park, located at 2001 Pan American Plaza at Balboa Park (check admission & hours).

It has a circular floor plan with exhibits that follow the history of aviation, from early flying machines, through to the modern jet age.  Set aside 2 hours to visit this museum!

5 best attractions at San Diego Air and Space Museum

1. See the Spirit of Louis at the Early Aviation Gallery.

The Early Aviation Gallery covers the first attempts at flying machines, with a model of the Leonardo Da Vinci Ornithopter from a design he completed in the 1480s, to a reproduction of a Wright Glider from 1902.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St Louis (pictured) was flown non-stop on the first transatlantic flight between New York and Paris.

#1 VISITOR GUIDE to San Diego Air and Space Museum

2. Check out authentic WWI planes from Germany and France, when terrifying aerial dogfights occurred in the skies.

The San Diego Air and Space Museum has a collection of fighter planes from WWI, when brave pilots were engaged in brutal dogfights over the skies of Europe .

See the single-seater French fighter plane Nieuport 11 suspended from the ceiling on the top left, with the distinctive red, blue and white colors of the French Flag on its tail wing.

A German monoplane fighter known as Fokker Eindecker is exhibited on the floor, with fearsome black and white crosses on its wings that was the symbol of the German armed forces in this era.

3. Learn about the Golden Age of Flight after WWI, when speed and distance records were broken.

The Golden Age of Flight after WWI was a fun time after the horrors of war, ushering in a era of airshows, speed and distance records, and commercial flight.  

Check out the red Gee Bee air racer from the 1930's that could reach a record breaking 300 mph!

4. Stroll through the WWII gallery to see British, American and German fighter planes.

The WWII Gallery has some menacing fighter planes, like the German Messerschmitt BF 109G-14 (top left), British Submarine Spitfire, and American Boeing P-26 Peashooter.

This 51-D Mustang "Bunnie" fighter plane was flown by an African-American Squadron in WWII known as the Tuskegee Airmen. This plane is historically very significant, because prior to 1940, African Americans had been prevented from flying for the U.S. Military.

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5. Finish at the Modern Jet and Space Age Gallery.

The exhibition comes full circle in the Modern Jet and Space Age Gallery, with an F/A-18 A Hornet Blue Angel jet (pictured below).

There are also mock-ups of the Gemini spacecraft and Apollo Service Module at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

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VISITOR GUIDE to San Diego Air and Space Museum

Know before you go

  • Address:  2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego.    
  • Hours and tickets: check here.
  • Cafe:  Flight Path Grill.
  • Parking:  Free parking in parking lot in-front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

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