The USS Midway Museum is offfers more than 60 exhibits with a collection of 27 restored aircraft.
I heard from Trekaroo families that you could spend 6 hours on this ship and I couldn't really wrap my mind around what could take that much time, but after spending an afternoon there, I get it! There were a ton of things to see, but even better, there was a lot for the kids to interact with and enjoy.
Whenever we visit museums with posted signs detailing what we are seeing, I struggle with getting my kids to read it and understand what it is. The USS Midway offers individual audio tour gadgets with plug-in headphones. The genius of it is that there are specific tours. Family tours, Student tours, and the full tour. The family tour takes about 2-3 hours and you can easily see the numbers on the map and in the area of the ship. Just put those numbers in the audio gadget and then listen on the headphones. The family tour was engaging for all my kids and we really liked listening to it too. They learned a TON without much difficult effort on my part. Any visitor can choose whatever numbers to listen to at any time so you can travel the ship at your pace, and skip or go back to any areas you choose. I used an audio tour with double plugs that I shared with my 4 year old. That way she didn't have to carry the slightly heavy gadget, just her own head phones. I just plugged hers into mine whenever we stopped to listen.
**KEY** Be sure to stop by the Junior Pilot Program Desk on the main deck, just after you get your audio tour sets. My 10 and 12 year olds were given a brochure with about 15 questions of things that they could easily learn by listening to the audio tour at all of the family stops. The friendly attendant told us that our 4 and 6 year olds could earn their "wings" too, just by participating with us. By having questions to get answers to, my older ones were eager to visit all the stops and find out the info they needed. When we were done, they turned in their answers and were given a small pin with wings. They were proud of them!
During our tour we had to go up and down many stairs and step over the foot-high thresholds (called "knee knockers") between rooms. Some of the stairs were very steep and narrow. Our kids did well, but it was a challenge at times.
Many hands-on and interactive features were available for the kids to touch throughout the ship. They practiced tying knots, climbed into the tight bunks, sat in the flight briefing chairs, and pretended to be dentists. Mannequins dressed in flight gear were great models of what life looked like. We told the kids about their great grandfather who served on the USS Midway as a dentist and they gawked at the pretend man squirming in the dental chair.
On the main deck there were flight simulators (extra fee) and many climb-in cockpits that the kids (and adults) could experience. I was fascinated by all of the airplanes on the main deck and the stories behind some of them.
Up on the flight deck we stopped to listen to a veteran explain the light signals on the ship that directed airplanes to land on the deck. My 12 year old was shocked at the speed in which they landed and then came to a complete stop in 2 1/2 seconds. He learned a lot by listening to the veteran. There were many airplanes and helicopters to walk around, study, and climb into on the top deck. My husband especially enjoyed the Top Gun aircraft.
We wanted to tour the bridge located up above the flight deck but the tour was a guided 30 minutes, there was a line waiting for the tour, and we were starving. So, we decided to skip it. I do believe that we missed a very important part of the USS Midway and one that we will have to plan on coming back to see. In fact, when I looked at the map and all the things to do and see I realized there are a lot of parts of the ship to explore and we look forward to returning soon!
Disclosure: I received two complimentary tickets in order to visit the USS Midway and share our experience. I was not asked to present a certain point of view and all opinions are my own.
Our family and extended family (11 of us) just spent 6 hours on the Midway yesterday. My best tip is to scrap the maps and audio tour ideas.
Just go on a weekend when all the volunteers are working - and talk to every veteran and volunteer you can find! We had the best time hearing their stories and their favorite parts of the carrier.
We visited the Pilot Ready Rooms which we'd never seen before -- having gotten a recommendation from a volunteer.
Strollers don't work well on this trip and it's not a good place to go if you're claustrophobic or have bad knees (lots of small spaces and ladders). I think it's perfect for kids 6 and over. You can take kids younger, but it's a big day and best for older kids.
Remember to dress in layers. It can be cold by the ocean and hot inside the carrier. Arrive early and plan to be there all day. (No snacks allowed except what you buy on board.)
Our family loved our time at USS Midway. We were there the whole day and felt like we could have stayed longer. There is so much to see and do. The self-guided tour for children informed and entertained my children (ages 6 & 9). As an adult, I actually preferred the children's version as it was simple and not overwhelming. The USS MIdway is a 'must see' in San Diego.
The kids loved this museum. They went with my uncle who used to serve on the exact ship that the museum is now located on. We are a family full of military members, and so this was just another cool experience for the kids. My son now wants to be on a big ship just like my uncle! the ship is in the water, and very large. Definitely one of the most talked about museums of the week!
it is awesome especially for your little dudes. And history enthusiast, could be mom or dada. First of all, it is a real used ship, not just a replica, so that's there history actually carved into the steel and you can certainly feel how compacted the place is. it might grow the claustrophobic in you. audio guided tour is very highly recommended. watch over your little bundle of energy or daredevil, cause you certainly don't want them plunge into the water, it is the bay not the sea, so more pollution are concentrated. don't miss the watch tower, where you can find telescope looking over san diego downtown or coronado. also you and your little one can try hop into a retired aircraft and got your picture taken. for mom or pops that watch top gun, there's a retired aircraft just for ya. overall, it is a very interesting visit. check some coupon from san diego digest for discounted price.
If your kids like ships, the navy, and history then this is the perfect place for them. Even if they don't enjoy the things I have listed above, they will enjoy this day. Plan on it being a full day trip. There is so much to see and learn. You actually get to tour the entire ship from the deck where planes use to land to the sailor's actual sleeping quarters. On the 4th of July, you can purchase tickets to actually be on the ship's deck to watch the fire works. How awesome is that!!! This is a must do with your kids!
We toured the USS Midway in Sept. 09, and it was a wonderful experience. The ship is docked and staffed with volunteers who can answer questions. There are flight simulators, and about 25 aircraft on the landing deck, some of which you may tour. Boy Scouts were spending the night on the ship the day we were there, and Navy Seals were sky diving and landing on the ship!
I recently took my two kids ages 6 and 7 and their grandfather to the USS Midway. It was so much more fun than we thought. They show you a lot of the ship and you wear headphones that tell you about the ship and how it was used. I don't recommend it for anyone who is cannot handle a lot of stairs or children who have a hard time going up and down stairs because some of the stairs are very narrow.
Opened in June 2004, the museum is located aboard the USS Midway, permanently docked at Navy Pier in San Diego Bay. Marvel at a floating “city at sea” and share in an odyssey that began in 1945 when the USS Midway was commissioned as the largest ship in the world. Audio guide provided. More than thirty-five exhibits and displays.
You have access to the mess deck, berthing spaces, hangar deck, and flight deck. The museum includes flight simulators, a gift shop, and a cafe and is constantly adding new programs. An outstanding experience.