If you're a history buff visiting America's Finest City for the very first time, whatever you do - do not skip a trip to the San Diego History Center. Located in Balboa Park, the museum features permanent and temporary exhibitions that celebrate the history of San Diego and its role in the development of Southern California.

About San Diego History Center

San Diego Balboa Park Museums

San Diego History Center's mission is to tell, " the diverse story of our region - past, present, and future," and to educate in a way that, "enriches our community, preserves our history, and fosters civic pride."

The museum is one of the West Coast's oldest historical organizations and was established in 1928 by the philanthropist George W. Marston - the same man who built the Junípero Serra Museum. In 1982 the Historical Society made the decision to move the massive collections to the Balboa Park location so that Junípero Serra Museum could continue to serve as an educational facility.

The engaging exhibitions and collections have continued to grow over the years, making the museum the best place in San Diego to learn about local history. Within the museum, you'll find an incredible collection of historical documents and items. There are over 15,000 historic objects that include artifacts from the indigenous Kumeyaay people, historic clothing, 2.5 million photographs, oral histories, and significant art from the region. There are plenty of engaging hands-on exhibitions geared towards children, and educational programs for all ages.

Bibliophiles will feel like kids in a candy store at the History Center's research library which houses a collection of over 45 million p pieces of paper and 2.5 million photos that help to record the way San Diego has evolved. The library is home to over 45 million pieces of paper and 2.5 million images that document the people, places, and events of San Diego’s past. San Diego History Center offers several Community Research Access Days throughout the year, in which community members can physically access the archives to do research.

Educational Programs, Events, and Exhibitions

Throughout the year, the History Center offers incredible educational programs and events that aim to celebrate San Diego's lasting legacy and help people of all ages learn about San Diego's rich history.

A few current exhibitions include The Sensuous Environment, which celebrates the work of architect Sim Bruce Richards and Taste San Diego Craft Community and Culture which is open Friday-Sunday and celebrates San Diego's craft beer culture. You can even sample a flight or an entire pint from Little Miss Brewing!

On Memorial Day the museum hosts a memorial celebration dedicated to the brave souls who died for the country.


You can find the San Diego History Center right in the heart of Balboa Park. The address is 1649 El Prado, Suite #3.

Visit the Museum

San Diego History Center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. There is no fixed admission fee, but donations are encouraged and help to keep the museum accessible to everyone. The suggested donation is $10.

Explore More San Diego Museums

For more San Diego history, head to Junípero Serra Museum, which is managed by the San Diego Historical Society and is located in Presidio Park on one of the most important historical sites in San Diego - the location of the first European settlement and the site of the founding of San Diego.

San Diego History Center is just one of the awesome museums you can visit on a trip to Balboa Park. There is so much to explore! While you're there, be sure to check out the rest of the 17 world-class museums scattered throughout the 1,200-acre park! Do you have a favorite? Tell us about it on our socials! @sandiegodotcom