Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via e-mail

The Ultimate San Diego Family Guide ™


              Copyright © 2006-2016    The Teachtopia Network

San Diego Natural History Museum

1788 El Prado, San Diego (619) 232-3821

Hours: Daily, 10 am-5 pm


Adult: $16, Seniors (62+): $14, Military, Students and Children: $11,

Children (0-2): Free

Admission includes the 3D Movie in a giant-screen theater.

San Diego residents are granted free admission on the first Tuesday of each month.

This museum is located right near two large parking lots and also close to an outdoor cafe. Upon entering visitors will notice the large skeleton of an dinosaur, the entrance to the 3D theater and the gift shop. This museum is on 5 levels and it’s best to orient yourself to where all of the exhibits are and then decide what order you will see them in. We had fun exploring both and then went to the back of this level to see a huge 3D map of the Southwestern United States. The kids really enjoyed looking at this and asked a lot of questions about where we were and what else was on the map.

We then headed into a discovery room which had a ton of hands-on activities for kids, taxidermy of a few medium and large-sized animals as well as some live animals. While we were in that room a docent came in with a cart of various items including two animal pelts. My kids loved petting the animal pelts and hearing about the characteristics of each of the animals. The docent was very engaging with the group of young kids and also let them feel and hold a pair of mountain goat antlers. This room was a wonderful introduction to the museum and was well organized and had a lot to see and do. The kids were so excited to discover displays and learning activities and then show each other and us what they had found.

Next, we went up one flight of stairs with room after room of educational and interactive displays and exhibits exploring fossils, animals and more. There are so many things for the kids to do and learn from–it’s just staggering. Logan especially loved this one display where he had to spin a wheel over and over until finally one of many eggs cracked open to reveal a baby dinosaur. In the Wild California area we saw live snakes and lizards and what owl habitats look like. There is a huge time pendulum in the middle of the floor that we spent time watching and discussing.

After thoroughly looking around and enjoying this floor it was time to see the museum’s current changing exhibit Darwin: Evolution, Revolution. This exhibit was also huge and had so much to see and explore. Again, lots of hands on learning and also a couple of live animals: a pretty green toad in a beautiful wooden habitat and a big iguana (both seen by Darwin in the Galapagos Islands). My kids loved all parts of this exhibit including the touch screen computer which had a neat educational game to learn from Darwin. One activity on the computer was moving animals around to see which of them have vertebrae.

What sets this museum apart from many is that it incorporates hands on learning throughout the museum, including in its changing exhibits. Many museums seem to want to corral children in a discovery room but this museum tries hard to make children feel welcome everywhere and offers so much to see and learn from.