The Midway is a top destination for visitors to San Diego and for good reason! We recently took our kids to visit the historic ship and they absolutely loved it. Even if you’re not into jets or aircraft carriers, exploring this giant ship is fascinating. From the food preparation to feed a “city on a ship” to the cramped living quarters, to the belly of the ship where thousands of gallons of gas burned daily to heat steam to turn the giant propellers, the Midway is amazing.
About the Midway
The USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. It was first commissioned a week after the end of World War II. The Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955, as well as the first U.S. aircraft carrier too big to travel through the Panama Canal. The ship operated for 47 years, during which time she (love how ships are always “she”) saw action in the Vietnam War and served as the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991’s Operation Desert Storm. The Midway was decommissioned in 1992, she is now a museum you can visit in San Diego.
Its very easy to get to the Midway from downtown San Diego. Several parking lots within walking distance are available. Additionally, there are lots of other activities within walking distance to the Midway including the Star of India (another maritime museum), Waterfront Park with its amazing water features for children to play, as well as shopping and lots of restaurants.
Five Tips for Making the Most of Your Trip
1. Look for online coupons/Groupon to save money on tickets
Tickets are $21 for adults and $8 for children 6 and over (five and under are free!) if you buy online through the Midway site. We looked on Groupon and purchased our tickets for $17 each and $7 for our eight year old. So we saved $9 dollars and we skipped through the line to get onto the ship.
2. Do the included audio tour
When you get onto the Midway, you have the option of doing an audio tour. There are stations all over the ship where you can sync your audio device and listen to short talks. The great thing about these devices are that you don’t have to go in any sort of order, and they are super easy for kids to do. The only bummer is that they won’t give kids under 7 their own device. So our five year old took mine and my husband and I shared one. She was so excited about listening to the different stories and would should out different facts to us. It kept both my kids incredibly engaged and excited about each area of the ship.
3. Take time to talk to the volunteers
Throughout the ship you will see volunteers. Most of these are retired veterans who have some amazing stories to tell if you take the time to listen. One volunteer we talked to shared his history of flying Phantoms and landing them on the short aircraft carrier landing strip.
4. Visit the bathroom before heading below deck
Once you head below deck you may be down there for an hour or more depending on how many of the audio stops to listen to. Its a long meandering route and I didn’t see any bathrooms in that portion of the ship, so I suggest (especially with small kids) that you use the facilities on the main deck before doing the tour below deck.
5. Do some research beforehand (especially if you are bringing your kids)
This is something that we didn’t do, but wish we had. If I could go back I would have shown my kids some photos of jets landing on the aircraft carrier so they could better understand how it works (and how amazing it is that they can actually land)! I would also have spent some time looking at some of the various military jets (Tomcats, and Phantoms etc.) I think my son would have really enjoyed looking for things we had researched in advance.