San Diego History Center
Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego History Center (not to be confused with the nearby San Diego Natural History Museum details the city of San Diego from past to present. Founded in 1928, the center is housed in the beautiful Casa de Balboa, which is also home to the Museum of Photographic Arts and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.
With its prime setting in the heart of Balboa Park, the San Diego History Center is easy to visit during a day of park activities. If you plan to visit other museums and attractions, be sure to check out attraction passes like the Go San Diego Card to save time and money on admissions. The center’s collection of historic artifacts includes 2.5 million photographs, 7,000 items of clothing, and 15,000 other objects, as well as local artwork. Past exhibitions have covered themes such as San Diego’s Jewish heritage, 100 years of the San Diego Zoo, and the city’s LGBTQ+ community.
Things to know before you go
- The center offers an untraditional admission policy, where you don’t have to pay to get in but are encouraged to donate however much you wish after your visit to “pay forward” a future visitor’s fee.
- There is a museum store open to the public.
- All levels of the building are accessible via elevator.
How to get there
The San Diego History Center is located just west of Park Boulevard on El Prado in Balboa Park’s main museum area. It’s accessible via city bus 7 with stops along Park Boulevard.
When to get there
The center is open daily from late morning to early evening. Docent-led tours take place during rotating exhibitions; check the calendar on the center’s website for dates and details.
Museum lovers are in luck at Balboa Park, which is chock-full of cultural institutions. Within the same area as the History Center, you’ll also find the Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Art Institute, San Diego Museum of Man, and Mingei International Museum.
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum (SDMRM)
- Museum of Photographic Arts
- San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)
- Fleet Science Center
- El Prado
- Japanese Friendship Garden
- San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA)
- Spanish Village Art Center
- Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden
- Mingei International Museum
- Spreckels Organ Pavilion
- Old Globe Theater
- San Diego Museum of Man (SDMM)
- San Diego Zoo
- Balboa Park