Everyone has heard of the big name San Diego Museums, such as the Museum of Art, Museum of Man, Natural History Museum, Maritime Museum, and USS Midway Museum, just to name a few. However, San Diego is also home to a plethora of museums that, although lesser-known, are just as rich in history. Ranging from antique farming machines, to gardens, to action sports, and of course art, San Diego has it all.
California Surf Museum, Oceanside
The California Surf Museum was founded in 1986 in an effort to help preserve surfing’s rich and robust history that some people felt was being lost on the newer generations. Featuring multitudes of surfboards, magazines, trophies, photographs and much more, this museum has seen more than half a million visitors in its 25+ year existence, running almost entirely off of donations. Anyone who enjoys surfing, and even those who don’t, should definitely check out this museum if they haven’t had the chance yet. All information can be found right here.
San Diego Botanic Gardens, Encinitas
The San Diego Botanic Gardens is a must see for any resident of the area. This huge property is home to a large number of carefully manicured gardens with a wide variety of plants from across the globe (and of course features native plants as well!) The Gardens host tours and classes, and are an excellent place for birthdays and weddings as well. For more information, click here.
Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla
The Museum of Contemporary Art houses an internationally recognized collection while also featuring a dynamic schedule of exhibitions and programs. Their goal is to cater to diverse audiences through the exhibition, interpretation, collection, and preservation of art created since 1950. With its breathtaking location, right on the water in beautiful La Jolla, this museum is a great place to host a wedding or any sort of private event. For tickets and more information, click here.
San Diego Heritage Museum, Encinitas
The San Diego Heritage Museum was founded in 1988, in an effort to preserve records, artifacts, and stories pertaining to the history of the communities of the San Dieguito River area. This area is roughly comprised of Solana Beach, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Leucadia, Olivenhain, and Cardiff. Originally a dry-farming and cattle ranching community, with only around two thousand residents, this area has definitely come a long way. This is a must see for anyone interested in seeing how this community has developed over the years. All information can be found here.
Lux Art Institute, Encinitas
Lux Art Insitute’s mission is a redefinition of the traditional museum experience. They don’t want visitors to just see the finished product, they want them to be exposed to the entirety of the creative process. To do this, they feature resident artists, so that visitors can experience their studio process and environment. The current resident artist is Ann Weber, a sculptor who specializes in large, biomorphic cardboard works finished with shellac. For information and directions, click here.
Museum of Making Music, Carslbad
The Museum of Music Making, one of the newer museums in the area, was founded in 1998. Despite its short history, they have hundreds of vintage instruments. They also have special exhibitions, innovative concerts, and many educational programs. They stress music’s important role in the connection of people of all different types, bringing everyone together using something they all love and enjoy. This is a must visit for any music lover. Info here.
Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside
This regional hub for the arts had a major remodeling done in 2008, in which is expanded from its original 5,000 square foot size to its now 20,000 square foot size. Aside from their average of fifteen plus art exhibitions a year, they also feature concerts, films, fundraising, culinary events and much, much more. Check out their website here for more information.
Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum, Vista
This museum, located on a massive 55 acre lot, houses an unbelievable amount of vehicles (well over 20,000!) ranging from the 1850’s to the early 1960’s. Many of these vehicles are even still running, and they host active demonstrations on a weekly basis. A must see for people of all ages. Info here.
California Center for the Arts, Escondido
This roughly 9,000 square foot exhibition space features three galleries, a sculpture court, and a store. With a few great exhibitions coming early next year, this is definitely a museum to keep in mind if you’re looking for some high quality art. All information can be found right here.