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San Diego Natural History Museum

If you go into any major city in the United States, one establishment you are sure to find is a natural history museum, and San Diego is no exception. The main difference between ours and others is that the San Diego Natural History Museum (the NAT) is one of the finest in the nation. Founded in 1874 and located in Balboa Park, our museum is the oldest in southern California, proof that when you know what you’re doing, you tend to stick around for a very long time!

The History

Originally known as the San Diego Society of Natural History at its creation in 1874, it was in 1917 that the museum began to be known as the San Diego Natural History Museum, taking over a building left vacant in the aftermath of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It would move two more times to various buildings in Balboa Park before coming to its final resting place in January of 1933. During World War II, the building was taken over by the Navy to become a hospital, leaving staff to scramble as to where to put the contents for the time being. The library was sent to San Diego College and the remainder of the exhibits were carefully packed up and sent to 32 different places until after the war when the building was able to be used as a museum once more.


Housed in the same building it has been in since 1933, in 2001 a 90,000 square foot addition was added, as was a Biodiversity Research Center and an Environmental Science Education Center. Today, you can explore exhibits that cover everything from whales to great ideas in history to fossil mysteries and so much more.

The Coast to Cactus Exhibition allows you to experience the different habitats of our state and even invites you to send in pictures of trips you might have made to California over the decades so as to examine the changes over time. This fascinating display is one of the newest permanent displays that can be found at NAT and is one you should not miss out on. Museum hours are from 10am to 5pm every day (this summer they are staying open until 8 many nights) and admission is free for members, $19 for adults, $17 for seniors and students with valid ID’s, $12 for kids 3-17, and free for tykes two and under. Located at 1788 El Prado in Balboa Park.

710 Beach Rentals

Explore the natural side of San Diego when you book your luxurious 710 Beach Rentals vacation home today. Make sure to set aside a day to visit the NAT; you won’t be able to cover it all, but you will manage to see a lot of it!

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Visit the San Diego Natural History Museum

Address: Balboa Park, 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: (619) 232-3821