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USS Midway

Visiting the USS Midway Museum in San Diego


USS Midway

USS Midway Docked in San Diego

© Betsy Malloy 2006
Hours: Open daily except Thanksgiving1 and December 25
Reservations: Not required
Cost: Admission fee includes a self-guided audio tour; children under five and active-duty military personnel and reservists get in free with ID. Check current prices
Location: Navy Pier, between the cruise ship terminal and Seaport Village
How Long: Allow at least 3 hours to see it everything on the USS Midway, or if you're in a hurry, follow their Express Tour
Best Time to Visit: Any time, but try to arrive in plenty of time to see everything before it closes

The USS Midway served the United States longer than any other aircraft carrier. The largest ship in the world when commissioned in 1945, it was retired in 1991. The decommissioned ship now serves her final tour of duty in San Diego, home to one-third of the Pacific Fleet and a large cadre of the Midway's former crew.

People of all ages like the USS Midway. It seems to attract more men visitors than women, but everyone likes it once they get there.

Visiting the USS Midway

On board the USS Midway, you can learn about life on a Navy ship and how aircraft land and take off from an aircraft carrier. Visitors can tour many of the working areas and see more than 15 restored aircraft. Volunteer docents, many who either served on the USS Midway or are former Navy pilots, provide live talks about the catapult and other operations.

The self-guided USS Midway audio tour included in the entrance fee (available in English, Spanish and Japanese) takes you to the mess deck, sleeping quarters, hangar deck and flight deck. It incorporates the voices of many who served on the USS Midway, who tell the stories of their experiences there.

A volunteer tour guide will take you through the bridge, chart room and primary flight control. If you arrive in the afternoon, you may save time by taking this tour first so you don't get stuck in line, but the best strategy is to get there as soon as the USS Midway opens and go straight upstairs.

Visitor Services On the USS Midway

I didn't expect to stay as long on the USS Midway as I did, and if you find yourself getting fascinated but need some nourishment to continue, you can get something to eat at the Fantail Cafe.

Be Prepared for the USS Midway

  • Many doorways have a high threshold, and there are many stairs, some of them quite steep. Wear comfortable shoes with soles that give you firm footing.
  • Elevators provide access to the hangar deck and flight deck
  • Bring a light jacket; it can be windy on the Flight Deck
  • Leave the big bags behind. Only modest-sized diaper bags and camera bags are allowed
  • If you have a child in a stroller, either take them out and park the stroller at the entrance or be prepared to skip visiting many parts of the ship
  • The USS Midway is a 100% non-smoking ship

Where Is the USS Midway Located?

USS Midway
910 N. Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA
USS Midway Website

The USS Midway is docked on the San Diego waterfront between the cruise ship terminal and Seaport Village. It's so big that it's hard to miss it if you're anywhere nearby.

By automobile, follow Harbor Drive south past the Maritime Museum. Limited parking is available on the pier next to the USS Midway. If you're in an RV that's more than 18 feet long, the nearest parking is in metered spots on Pacific Highway, one block east of Harbor Drive.

Metered parking is also available along N. Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. They're cheaper than the lots if you have enough change with you, don't plan to stay longer than 3 hours AND if space is available.

The San Diego Trolley stops three blocks from USS Midway at the Santa Fe Depot.

1 Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of reviewing the USS Midway Museum. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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