Touring the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier in San Diego…

There are tons of family friendly venues in San Diego.  We had just one week  to explore; we prefer to chose a few destinations and really explore them rather than just doing quick visits to many different stops.  One of our Must-Dos in San Diego, was a visit to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier!

Visiting the USS Midway in San Diego, CA
After parking and purchasing tickets, the guys headed down, below deck, to the hanger bay…

The guys loved this new exhibit; the Battle of Midway.  It was not quite fully opened yet, but there were aircraft to check out (like this SBDDauntless), and some other displays.  When it is completed, there will be a large exhibit, and a video area that will focus on the Battle of Midway.

Inside the USS Midway.

After you purchase your tickets, and they are checked when you walk on the carrier, the first thing to do is to head to the information booth!

At the information booth, the boys picked up handouts for the Midway’s Jr. Pilot Program.  To participate in the program, the kids filled out their worksheets by finding answers throughout the ship.

At the information desk, they also picked up audio sticks; these were free with their ticket purchase, and contained recorded information for rooms and displays all over the carrier.  They could listen to the informative narration either using the speaker on the audio stick, or by checking out headphones to listen with.   As they walked throughout the carrier, they would locate round signs that said “stop ‘#'”; there were 2 different colors of signs since there were 2 different audio tours – yellow signs told the number to dial for the adult narrative for that area, and the green signs had a condensed recording that was geared more toward younger kids.   Joel (11), had a hard time deciding if he liked the adult narrations or the child narrations better; he said that he liked the child ones because that is where he found many of the answers to the Jr. Pilot program work, but some of the adult ones were super interesting!

Listening to information about the USS Midway via headset.

The Crusader room was dedicated to the F-8 Crusader, which was a fighter very advanced for its time.  One of the most used jets on the Midway, it was called The Last Dog Fighter, and there were even dedicated night fighter versions.

Checking out a display aboard the USS Midway near San Diego.

The F-4F Wildcat’s role on the Midway was to take out incoming aircraft, and escort the bombers on their runs.

There are 29 aircraft on the USS Midway.

The guys listening to their audio sticks to find out the answers to the questions in their Jr. Pilot handout that were answered in the Crusader room…

under deck at the USS Midway in San Diego, CA

There were quite a few rooms that were set up as they were during the USS Midway’s tours…

touring the USS Midway in San Diego.

The room below was the ‘Ready Room’ – this is on of several briefing rooms where pilots were filled in on the details of an impending mission.

F-18 pilot briefing room on the Midway.

In the engine room, the guys learned about how the engine and propeller system on the Midway work.  Here the boys learned that the USS Midway could go up to 30 knots (did you know that a knot is the same as 1.151 miles).

The USS Midway offers a Jr. Airman program where kids can 'earn their wings'.

Joel checking out the cockpit of a helicopter on the hanger bay…

Trying out the cockpit on one of the airplanes that in stored and displayed on the USS Midway.

And, oh joy!  A Penny Press machine!  The kids collect these, so the boys were pretty happy to find this…

There is even a pressed penny machine on the USS Midway!

Up on deck, Joel found his fav aircraft that is on the Midway… the F-18 Super Hornet.  Painted like a Mig29, the pilot took the role of the ‘bad guy’ during fighter training runs…

USS Midway in San Diego, CA.

Looking across the deck at the bridge…

view o f the USS Midway

F-4 Phantom…F-4 Phantom on the deck of the USS Midway.

Tourist photo before heading up to take the docent-led tour of the Island (top part above deck).  The only way to access this area was through the tour, which was free with admission; keep in mind that the tour line closes at 4 on busy days.  Also, you had to be 42″ in order to go on the tour.

On the deck of the USS Midway

Looking down from the air boss’ seat…(it’s in the part of the island that is sticking out, right above the nose of the jet).  The air boss directed traffic, and made sure everything was on schedule and running smoothly.  Joel thought that the see-through schedule board was so interesting; there is a see-through board where a sailor would write all the planes and when they were coming in on, only he would write it on one side, for the air boss to read on the other side – he had to be quick and neat at writing BACKWARDS on that board so that the air boss could read it clearly on the other side!

View from the USS Midway in San Diego.

The navigator sat in this seat, next to the captain, on the bridge…

USS Midway visit

Two M-60s mounted on a Huey…

audio tour at the USS Midway.

After their super cool self-guided tour, the guys headed back down to show their Jr. Ranger work and receive their pins.  So thankful that (most) of my olders don’t think they are ‘too cool’ to have fun with these programs!  The pins make for fun souvenirs!

Earning their Jr. Pilot's wings at the USS Midway in San Diego.

The guys spent 5 hours on the Midway while the littles and mom were at the zoo; while the boys saw most of it, my military/history buffs finally left the ship only because it was closing.
A huge thank you to Joel for filling me in on their visit and telling me about each and every photo, since I wasn’t there!

So, with that, here are Joel’s tips for visiting the USS Midway:

*Don’t forget to take the tour of the bridge; the tour is the only way to get up there, and it was cool to learn about the air boss and the see-through board.

*Don’t forget to pick up an audio stick at the information desk – you learn so much more  than just walking through.  I (Joel) liked listening to both the adult and the kids’ recordings since I learned different things from each.

*Be sure to check out the different talks that veteran’s give up on the deck.  There are different subjects that they talk about, and it was cool to hear about it from some of the guys that were there.

*Take a jacket – it can get cold fast, from the wind, out on the deck.

*Don’t forget your quarters and pennies – there are 2 machines for making pressed pennies, so you can collect up to 8 different designs here!

*Go early -you might want to stay all day!

Mom’s tip:
*Look for coupons for your visit – there are several different coupons out there, which are the best will depend on your family make-up.  These are the coupons that we found during our recent stay in San Diego:
~2 adult tickets for $28 at Costco
~Buy 1 adult ticket, get a child’s ticket free coupon found in the ‘101 things to do in San Diego’ magazine found in brochure racks in hotel lobbies and campgrounds.
~Purchase and print online and you receive $2 off of the regular ticket prices
(you can find regular ticket prices here)

*There is a large gift shop with unusual items – it’s a great place to find unique gifts!

USS Midway |

The USS Midway is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 10am to 5pm.
There is plenty of easy to access parking right next to the Midway; it is $10 a day (regular rigs, not rvs), no in and out privileges.

With 60 exhibits, and 29 aircraft, the USS Midway was a fun and educational outing for our history and military buffs! If you would like to stay up to date on what is happening on the Midway, hop over and ‘like’ the Midway’s facebook page; also, if you are considering visiting the USS Midway, or would just like to learn more about it, you can find more info on their website at

Disclaimer: Our visit to the USS Midway was partially comped by the Midway to help facilitate a review. All opinions are ours.

Lilla Rose

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