The USS Midway Museum aboard the decommissioned USS Midway aircraft carrier, is the most-visited 100-plus historic naval ship museum in the continental United States. Located at Navy Pier on San Diego Bay, the Midway is a floating tribute “to those who served aboard her and all the other flattops America has sent into battle, as well as those who pioneered carrier aviation, ushering in a new era of naval combat.” There are self-guided audio tours; over 40 exhibits and displays, along with many restored aircraft; availability to see the mess deck, berthing spaces, hangar deck, flight deck, island superstructure and more. Super interesting are the Mach Combat F-8 and F-4 phantom flight simulators and flight stations; a Flight Avionics motion simulator; and interactive, story-telling docents, many of whom are Midway veterans. Active duty and reservist personnel receive free admission; retired military receive discounted admission. 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
The San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park is home to a massive collection of classic military aircraft ranging from the dawn of flight through WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the jet age and beyond. The Museum also houses an International Aerospace Hall of Fame, honoring the inventors, engineers, pilots, and industrialists who created and built airplanes. Active military admission is free.
Along the paths of Cabrillo National Monument sit the remains of coastal defenses built to protect the approaches to San Diego Bay. While visiting the park, you will find base-end stations, fire control stations, searchlight bunkers, and other remains of troubled times; lonely sentinels that now serve to guard our memories of the past. Housed in an old radio station, the exhibit, “They Stood the Watch,” shares the story behind these remains, and ranger talks are often given on weekends. The Cabrillo National Monument Foundation bookstore, located in the Visitor Center, offers several books about Fort Rosecrans and the military history of Point Loma. 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
Countless thousands of civilian and military passed through the gates of San Diego Naval Training Center in the course of its history. The base, now decommissioned, has been transformed into Liberty Station consisting of part residential community, part arts district, and part retail center. With many of the businesses housed in the historic structures that date back to the 1920s, just walking around Liberty Station can bring back proud memories for the more than a million military personnel who were trained there. There is also an Arts District.
I lived only 8 blocks away and have visited many times as well as stayed at the hotel. There is also a cultural district with galleries, artist studios, dance studios, restaurants and retail stores. Admission is free. 2701 Lytton St, San Diego, CA 92106