San Diego has a long and proud military history that has greatly impacted the city, the surrounding areas, and the United States in American armed forces operations. Beginning in the early 1900’s, a naval base began in San Diego during its thriving economy which convinced its residents that having a military presence would be a positive addition. Although the military is not the first thing to come to mind when considering San Diego, it is a significant part of the area’s history and culture. Once a location of Civil War army bases, a military fort, and a tactical base for the United States Navy and Marines, San Diego is currently one of the country’s biggest veterans and active-duty military centers. Home to the Center for Military History, whose mission statement involves efforts to preserve and showcase Navy history both in the area and aboard, the city is the home port for approximately twenty-four percent of all Navy vessels and seventeen percent of the Navy’s active-duty personnel, and approximately one-third of the United States Marine Corps active-duty force. And they want to educate people of all ages about this often overlooked, but important aspect of the area’s storied history.  

If you are a military buff, San Diego is a great city to visit and discover the victories, tragedies, and sacrifices of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, past and present. Immerse yourself in history aboard a Bay Harbor Cruise, tour the USS Midway aircraft carrier, visit the Veteran’s Museum and Memorial Center, or simply walk along the Embarcadero, to explore some of the greatest collections of artworks. America’s finest city welcomes you to a destination filled with sunny weather, sandy beaches, and the sea, and to experience the heritage and history of the United States Military. 


Explore San Diego’s Military Attractions with City Cruises 

San Diego has something for everyone including rooftop bars, a thriving arts scene, the Gaslamp District, and gastronomical delights aplenty. Home toSan Diego Balboa Park, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Navy Pier, and Seaport Village, the list is endless for fun things to do. There is a boardwalk and cycling path that winds its way along San Diego Bay, and the waterfront Embarcadero (meaning “landing place”)  which is home to chic eateries and boutiques. Nearby are restored planes, flight simulators, and life-at-sea exhibits at the USS Midway Museum, a former naval aircraft carrier. You can’t beat the grassy areas and ocean views surrounding you, and you can’t help but notice the relationship between locals and the military in all aspects of life. Experience it all from the water with City Cruises San Diego-the rest is history!



Don’t Miss the USS Midway and History of the Navy in San Diego 

san diegoOne of the first sights visitors see in the downtown skyline is the USS Midway, which is home to over 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft. Enjoy one of the coolest ways to see this preserved aircraft carrier turned museum with a Best of the Bay Harbor Cruise & USS Midway Admission. Take in the best sightseeing on San Diego Bay with a professionally narrated harbor boat tour of this Southern California city. See Seaport Village, Shelter Island, ship-building and dry-coking facilities, Coronado Island, Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument, and so much more – all from the water! Get a peek at delightful marine animals and majestic sea birds while onboard. Local history and wildlife enthusiasts will share their deep knowledge with you for a truly memorable experience. Don’t forget your cameras or phones to capture it all!  

Next, you will visit the USS Midway, the perfect addition to your San Diego itinerary. With aircraft, exhibits, and dozens of Navy veterans aboard, you will immerse yourself in the Navy way of life onboard an aircraft carrier. Enjoy a 3D holographic movie in the Battle of Midway Theater and learn the history of the incredible artifacts you see with an included self-guided audio tour. Visiting this incredible museum is the perfect way to learn about United States history and get a firsthand look at some of the ways the country has fought for freedom. Throw in spectacular views of the city skyline, in-seat food and beverage service, as well as over 20 local landmarks, this is a must-do when in San Diego.  


Other Naval Museums and Military Attractions in San Diego 

Visit the Maritime Museum of San Diego, featuring a collection of historic sailing ships, steam-powered boats, and submarines. Take in the beautifullychildren looking at replica inside the maritime museum restored historic vessels including the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship, and the USS Dolphin, the deepest diving submarine in the world. Explore the ship’s historic decks and learn about the Pacific Maritime Heritage the museum is preserving while exploring exhibits containing artifacts of the sea, photography, ship models, and art. Visiting the Maritime Museum is an excellent way to gain insight into different periods of time by learning the role played by the museum’s historic vessels throughout history. 

Explore the world of aviation with a museum journey through the San Diego Air and Space Museum featuring information from the first flight to the present day. You will see significant artifacts of air and space history and technology. Beautifully restored airplanes help you appreciate the increasingly complex technology represented in the classic military aircraft of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The desire to journey to the stars may never be finished and represents an adventure that the human race has just begun. 

Set atop Balboa Park’s Inspiration Point, you will find a “free” museum – The Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park. This museum honors all men and women who have fought in the United States Armed Forces and Wartime Merchant Marine. You will marvel at the presence of all things military and the impact on the community and the country. 

Honoring members of all branches of the military, visit Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorials, set atop a mountain in the San Diego community of La Jolla. This is a place of honor and respect featuring various plaques for military servicemen and women, and a flag specifically dedicated to those who fought during the Korean conflict. 


San Diego: A Hub for the United States Armed Forces 

San Diego’s location on the Pacific Ocean means the city has a very strong military and naval presence. With more than 70 miles of coastline, this sun-drenched city offers something for all people who live or travel to the area for surfing, cruises, attractions, and all things military. Get out on the water to experience the best skyline views of the city while learning about the military and marine life. While cruising around San Diego Bay, you will feel the enormity of the U.S. Armed Forces with bases, helicopters, Navy ships, and more. City Cruises San Diego offers a variety of excursions, from one-hour harbor and sea lion cruises to whale watching, sightseeing, and dining cruises – all with unmatched views of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, the Star of India, and Naval Air Station North Island and experience how the military is woven into the fabric of the city’s history. 

USS Midway San Diego, CA