Explore San Diego

5 Hidden Gem San Diego Museums

These museums off the beaten path invite you to come explore.

Oceanside Museum of Art

The Oceanside Museum of Art is a special place. Its striking contemporary facade houses a rotating collection of modern art pieces and cultural events that have made it a trailblazer of the North County art scene. The creations of late figurative pop artist and San Diegan, Marjorie Nodelman (1950-2014), were on exhibit through 2016 and 2017. Her surreal works—as presented in first-person recollections from her closest friends and family—include paintings and sculptures that incorporate everything from canvas and vinyl, to wood, steel and reinforced concrete. 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside

California Surf Museum

Founded in 1986, the California Surf Museum documents not just the history of San Diego’s surf culture, but the whole state’s. The museum’s occasional exhibitions explore classic surf photography, the evolution of surfboard design and relics from the sport’s golden era. From highly specialized gear to music, art and clothing, the museum’s small but informative collection tells the story of a life lived according to the way the waves are breaking. 312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, 760.721.6876

Museum of Making Music

This unique museum showcases vintage musical instruments, interactive audio and visual exhibits, films, concerts and discussions that explore the history of music-making in the U.S. from the 1890s to the present day. Exhibits often focus on specific musical instruments, from the harp to the saxophone. 5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, 760.438.5996

San Diego Maritime Museum

San Diego’s Maritime Museum is home to beautifully preserved historical ships and collection of seafaring memorabilia. Take a tour of the magnificent Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship. Since her maiden voyage in 1863, she’s survived a mutiny, a collision and thousands of tourists. Now safely docked—except for a couple of exhibition sails each year—she’s a tall ship with plenty of tall tales. 1492 N. Harbor Drive, Embarcadero, 619.234.9153

San Diego Museum of Man

Located in the historical California Plaza at the center of Balboa Park, the Museum of Man is known as much for its architecture as its exhibitions—the museum’s California Tower is Balboa Park’s signature landmark; for an extra fee, visitors can climb up to the top to take in breathtaking views of the city. Past exhibitions have spotlighted everything from ancient Egypt to medieval torture devices. 1350 El Prado, Balboa Park, 619.239.2001

Article by Sarah Daoust, adapted from WHERE San Diego magazine for SoCalPulse. Reprinted with permission.