San Diego is full of awesome family travel adventures. Spending the day inside the USS Midway, in the heart of downtown is one that my family really enjoyed!
San Diego is packed full of fun activities for tourists and to be honest, there were so many places to go and things to see, I was actually overwhelmed during our trip. It’s hard to narrow down what you want to do, what the kids want to do, and of course what the budget really allows.
So, while we had an incredible trip- we’ll be heading back to explore more while on the west coast.
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through my family’s day exploring the USS Midway- one of the most iconic aircraft carriers in the world!
Let’s get started.
The USS Midway in San Diego
A huge, towering naval ship sits along the road as you drive through downtown San Diego! It’s both beautiful and intimidating to stand in front of, but the chance to head inside and explore is one you shouldn’t pass up during your trip to San Diego with your family!
Midway in San Diego is one of the most iconic aircraft carriers in the world. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to step aboard and experience a piece of history up close and personal- you know, the way we tourists really love to do things!
From the flight deck to the engine room, visitors can explore every inch of this magnificent naval vessel and learn all about its role in American military history.
History of the USS Midway
If you’ve never heard of the USS Midway- it’s probably best we start with a bit of history!
The USS Midway was a United States Navy aircraft carrier that served from 1945 to 1992. It played a significant role in the Cold War and the Vietnam War. It was the largest ship in the world until the construction of the USS Forrestal in 1955.
During the Vietnam War, the USS Midway earned the nickname the “Fightingest Ship in the Navy” for its extensive service and numerous combat operations. And it was also involved in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and was the flagship for the commander of the US Seventh Fleet during that time.
The history of the USS Midway is a big part of American military and naval history, and its legacy continues to be honored and remembered by many.
The USS Midway Today
Today, The USS Midway is a museum ship in San Diego, California, and a popular tourist attraction for locals and people coming from out of town.
Visitors are welcome to tour the ship and learn about its history and the brave men and women who served on board. Visiting the USS Midway Museum is a great way to learn more about the history of the United States Navy and the important role that the USS Midway played in defending our country.
Recommended By The Locals
From the moment we stepped foot on California soil, each person we met sang a similar tune… “Make sure you take the kids to the USS Midway” so naturally, we wanted to see what all the hype was about.
We’ve learned over the years to heed the advice given by locals and other travelers as they almost always know what they are talking about.
So one of our first stops in San Diego was the U.S.S. Midway Museum!
Located at the navy pier in downtown San Diego it encompasses over 30 restored aircraft and 10 acres to explore at your leisure!
Taking a day to experience this warship’s sights, sounds, and… smells was a fun activity we all enjoyed. It was our first time touring a ship of this size and it was everything we imagined plus so much more!
Great For Rainy Days
The day we picked was probably the only day out of the 3 months when it actually rained in southern California. But it wasn’t like a hard rain, more of a mist. Just barely enough to make you second guess your decision to go, but not enough to stop you from putting on your rain jacket and getting in the car!
Everyone must have had the same idea, to visit a museum today, because parking was not only tight to get into, but also packed to even grab one. We waited around for about 10mins as other people tried to squeeze into the tiny spots, and by the time we made it around the loop- a spot had opened up for us…
So we squeezed our big ass SUV into a tiny spot, which my husband insisted was our only choice- and what do ya know, we fit just fine.
Buy Your Tickets In Advance
The line was pretty long- so we were glad we had our tickets in hand allowing the lady at the front gate to scan us in through my Groupon app after a quick bag check. (Am I the only one who gets excited about a bag check?)
Once inside the gate- we took the stairs to the top of the ship where the entrance was. I forgot to make a note about how many steps it was exactly, but it was a lot, maybe 2 flights (of course we couldn’t take the elevator…)
The Hanger Deck
Inside the Hanger Deck, there are a few tables with trinkets to buy items like paracord bracelets, a small snack shack, and additional paid experiences!
Of course within like 2 minutes of being inside my kids already had soft pretzels and soft drinks in hand thanks to Dad, but I was more interested in the activities and experiences that were available.
You can opt to take a ride on one of the many flight simulators, climb inside a variety of real cockpits or experience the Battle of Midway Theater for a 15-minute inspirational film.
We chose to skip most of these, as we felt pressed for time and really wanted to see the ship itself.
We opted to spend more time on the tours of the flight deck which was really impressive and then head below deck for more tours.
USS Midway Tour Options
The USS Midway Museum offers several tour options, including self-guided audio tours, docent-led tours, and virtual reality experiences. You can also explore the ship at your own pace and visit various exhibits and interactive displays.
We chose the self-guided audio option!
The ship offers a self-guided audio tour for adults and a separate audio version for kids, and basically, you walk around scanning different checkpoints to start the next recording.
The USS Midway Audio Tour covers the history and significance of the USS Midway, as well as the different areas of the ship and their functions.
We thought it was super convenient and the kids had a great time ‘searching for the checkpoints and scanning them’ to learn about that specific area and then getting to move on to others.
We spent roughly 3 hours on board the USS Midway and never had a dull moment.
Each minute was filled with entertaining information about life on board and historical facts. We toured everything including the bridge, the galley, the mess hall, the chapel, the Captain’s quarters the air hanger, the flight deck and the laundry facilities, and also the Admiral’s Cabin!
There is so much to see and we attempted to view it all!
Wrapping Up The Uss Midway Tour
Although it was a lot of walking, our kids did well and no one complained about their feet hurting.
They actually loved being in the tight spaces, climbing the incredibly steep metal steps, and peaking into the life of those who served on this vessel, more than I anticipated. (Bonus!)
Before we left we had to stop by the gift shop, which isn’t as badly priced as I thought it would be!
Everyone managed to stick to their budget and grab a take-home item for around $75 total. I even grabbed a cute ‘Rosie the Riveter’ red polka dot bandana… “We Can Do It!”
So if you’re planning a trip to San Diego, regardless of what time of year- I strongly suggest you make plans to visit the USS Midway!