What to Expect When Visiting the USS Midway Museum

San Diego’s “A City at Sea” Attraction Celebrates the Navy



Photo from USS Midway Museum

Back in 2004, the USS Midway Museum had it’s grand opening, attracting visitors from near and far to San Diego’s Harbor. At the time, there were four aircrafts including the Corsair A-7B, Phantom F-4S, Intruder A-6E, and Hawkeye E-2C. On that opening day, visitors could tour the Island Superstructure, Flight Deck, Hangar Deck and portions of the Second Deck. That same year, Midway Magic: An Oral History of America’s Legendary Aircraft Carrier was published by Scott McGaugh. He interviewed over 300 Midway sailors to research for his book. Similarly, the museum’s audio tour is comprised of voices from Midway sailors and gives guests the ability to see what life was like at sea. You can even hear personal anecdotes from Navy veterans who guide tours.

San Diego is proud to host the 20th century’s longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Midway (CV-41). San Diego’s interactive USS Midway Museum features numerous climb-aboard cockpits and aircraft. Now, there are over 25 restored historic aircraft on board. The museum offers visitors a gift shop located on the hangar deck where the sailors used to repair the Naval jet engines.

Since the grand opening of the museum, local visitors and tourists alike take advantage of the beauty Downtown San Diego has to offer. If you are flying into the San Diego airport, just under three miles from the USS Midway, you may as well make a day of strolling along the San Diego Harbor. In fact, there are several exciting tourist options for you near the San Diego Harbor including the San Diego Convention Center, downtown Gaslamp Quarter, and Balboa Park. There are certainly plenty of eatery choices in Downtown San Diego if you are looking for local restaurants after your trip to the museum. If you would like to stay on the Harbor, the Midway has their very own cafe for your convenience.

The aircraft carrier is named after the Battle of Midway, which took place in 1942 and was a notoriously victorious turning point for the U.S. Navy in World War II. With an impressive 47 years of operation, the Midway was commissioned in 1945 and decommissioned in 1992. During the final years of operation, the Midway was active in Operation Desert Shield to guard against the Iraqi invasion. At Pearl Harbor in 1991, the Midway was replaced by Independence and sailed henceforth to reside permanently in San Diego. Midway was officially decommissioned in 1992 at Naval Air Station North Island, located in the Coronado peninsula of San Diego Bay. In 1996, the Midway underwent a few years of modifications costing $202 million and resulting in an enlarged flight deck from 2.8 acres to 4 acres. The Midway was the first U.S. aircraft carrier too large to pass through the Panama Canal.

Something special that the USS Midway provides to the community is a Speaker’s Bureau, which is a program that allows veterans and docents to come represent at a location convenient for you. This is an ideal program for teachers who would like to bring a veteran to speak to their class. Speaking of Veterans, Veteran’s Day is a special commemoration at the Midway honoring the bravery and sacrifice of those who have served our country. 

The USS Midway Museum is open from 10am-5pm with the last admission at 4pm. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. The massive ship welcomes general admission and also hosts special calendar events. For example, the USS Midway attracts thousands of people to celebrate the 4th of July every year to marvel at the “Big Bay Fireworks” and enjoy patriotic live music.