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Ways to Experience San Diego Natural History Museum
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All reviews balboa park the dead sea scrolls dinosaur skeletons ocean oasis nice exhibits rainy day gift shop southern california on display great for kids kids and adults two hours day pass films mysteries science fauna
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Reviewed 2 days ago via mobile

I learned a lot walking through this museum. It’s very cool seeing the exhibits. They even have live animals some days. There was a hawk when I visited. They have a theater playing short films throughout the day. You can easily spend hours here. I recommend the Explorer pass where you visit any 5 museums in Balboa Park-great deal.

Thank Christina M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

we spent about 3 hours touring this museum. It is so interesting and informative. be sure to take in some of the films. the 3D one on oceans is terrific

Thank nannyca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Disclaimer: My recent visit to "The Nat" was as a participant in the 144th Annual Meeting of Members, so the attendance was minimual and without groups of school children. As an older couple, my husband and I kept a slower pace, allowing us time to savor just the most attractive exhibits. This is one of my favorite buildings in Balboa Park. When it was remodeled several years ago, the entrance was moved to the north side, and one steps into a soaring atrium inhabited by a hanging whale overhead and a fleet-footed dinosaur on the floor. Nice! The cafe -- The Flying Squirrel -- has numerous tables and a menu of muffins, salads, coffee speciality drinks and snack food. The chairs are "Industrial Chic," meaning unapholstered steel, so bring your cushion!
It's a good idea to pick your Animal, Vegetable or Mineral of choice when visiting a natural history museum; otherwise there is a risk of TMI all at once. Since the museum stresses regional natural history, it's fascinating to learn about the breathtaking "Coast to Canyon" marvels of the San Diego landscape. An exhibit on "Water: A California Story," details all of the challenges involved in keeping this semi-desert region hydrated.
My personal favorite exhibit was the "Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science," a beautifully crafted exhibit on Level 3 that displays ordinary people (like Ellen Browning Scripps,) who made their passion for natural science a lifelong vocation. The exhibit of "Open Drawers," where a variety of specimen from the Nat's collection are on display in a large room has a quiet quality about it: not too many signs/graphics, an inviting couch and an open amethyst geod on a coffee table like a handfull of beautiful purple stars.
The "Fossil Mysteries" are keen attractions for tykes and there is now an Escape Room interactive attraction on the lower level where a small group of "sleuths" can try to exit the room by uncovering science-related clues.
When it comes to museum gift shops, I confess to being a snob, having been known to swoon several times when entering the gift area of the N.Y. Metropolitan Museum and the delightfully-curated tiny shop at the Seattle Public Library. The Nat gift shop does have its dinosaurs all in a row, but since I had no 6-year-old boys in tow, I can't evaluate their collection. The museum has an impressive output of books by local scientists/naturalists however, and I truly grateful for these wonderful guides.

Thank Regina M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 2, 2018

It's unfortunate that this museum added and charged a donation without asking during a purchase in its shop.

Thank Lynnbrownstone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 7, 2018 via mobile

Dinosaurs... Animals.. Fossils.... 3 floors of display eye candy! Lots to look at.... read about. Some things to touch. A 3D theater. A refreshment area. What more could a museum enthusiast want? Take the kids/grandkids and enjoy this one! Also, there are elevators available if stairs are an issue. I absolutely consider this one a must for the Balboa Park museum ticket.

1  Thank dreadpiratedb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 24, 2018 via mobile

Family enjoyed this so much we joined as family members. Definitely educational and really fascinating. The IMAX theatre is nice and we watched a couple of movies as well. In the summer there are evening hours where you can enjoy their restaurant with drinks overlooking Balboa Island and the San Diego Zoo.

1  Thank M2white
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 21, 2018

Balboa Park is always such a pleasure to visit whenever we visit San Diego. One of its special attributes are the many museums to visit. The Natural History Museum is one of our favorites.

The museum is made up of many floors each with a variety of different exhibits and information. For example, the first floor has a section showing nature films and some tables where kids can draw and color. There is also a cafe located there where you can grab a quick cup of coffee or a snack. The second floor has information on California's wildlife and ecosystems. The third floor has a variety of information on prehistoric animals and the fourth floor has a collection of scientific journals, records and books. It even smells like the library I had in my elementary school. We didn't visit the 5th floor but I believe that it had several paintings to look at.

The dinosaur exhibit itself was exceedingly impressive. With bones, sculptures, repeating videos, and interactive games, there's a ton of both fascinating information as well as a great deal of flash and spark for younger minds to keep their interest. Although it was a little packed (we went on a Sunday), it had a nice flow that made it easy to wander through and see what you wanted to see, and there were plenty of workers there to do presentations and play games with children.

All in all, definitely a great place to spend part of your day. Very inexpensive and very fun while being educational ;)

2  Thank VictoriaAllen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2018

We came here for free with out reciprocal program from The phoenix science center. Nice exhibits the kids enjoyed ( 3, 9, 11, 11, 12) Spent maybe 2.5 hours here and had lunch on the grass in front. Worth the trip while at Balboa Park.

Thank Megan T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2018

Have visited before, and while this time the exhibits weren't as interesting (last time they had a great Titanic exhibit), it's still a good museum and worth a couple hours to wander through. We bought a 7day Balboa pass ($59 USD adult), so it was no-brainer to make this one of our stops

Thank pudman43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 1, 2018

My husband and one of our children wanted to visit this museum but I didn't want to forfeit time outside at Balboa Park so I resisted at first. The $64 admission didn't help convince me either, but my family was adamant so I relented.

Much to my surprise I completely enjoyed myself and was glad that we had visited. The museum is laid out very well and has many interesting exhibits. We did not visit the movie theater because we didn't want to spend the entire afternoon inside. My favorite exhibit was the "unboxed" exhibit where it showcased specimens out of the storage facilities.

We also enjoyed the gift shop, where the prices were a bit high but at least the profits are going towards a good cause.

Thank gypsymamma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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