From abstract art to antique airplanes, San Diego-area museums are filled with treasures that will educate, entertain and inspire. And while the Balboa Park museums all offer free admission on certain Tuesdays, many institutions are a bargain every day of the week. Here’s a look at 10 places to while away the afternoon for less than $10 (adult admission, other discounts often available).
California Surf Museum
Spend the afternoon soaking up good vibrations and taking in surfing’s history and culture at this repository of all things surf. A special exhibit focuses on surfing during the Vietnam War.
312 Pier View Way, Oceanside. $5. 760.721.6876 or surfmuseum.org
Anthenaeum Music & Arts Library
While the library houses a collection of visual and audio material dedicated to music and art, the gallery space exhibits an eclectic variety of work. Look for the 26th annual Juried Exhibition this summer, which draws some of San Diego’s most creative artists.
1008 Wall St., La Jolla. Free. 858.4545.872 or ljathenaeum.org
Museum of Photographic Arts
Experience photography as a medium of record and as fine art. The museum’s “See Is Believing?” exhibit delves into the history of photography - and the third dimension, with 3-D viewers that can be tested and make-your-own 3-D photos to take home.
1649 El Prado, Balboa Park. Pay what you wish. 619.238.7559 or mopa.org
Oceanside Museum of Art
This family-friendly museum showcases regional artist and strives to coax out the inner artist in everyone with classes for kids, families and adults. “Healing Journeys” is a trio of exhibits focusing on art as a means of healing, especially for veterans.
704 Pier View Way, Oceanside. $8. 760.435.3720 or oma-online.org
Visions Art Museum: Contemporary Quilts and Textiles
From abstracts to portraits and landscapes, this museum promotes quilting as a form of art. Part mosaic, part stitchery, these pieces take vision - and lots of patience.
2825 Dewey Road, Suite 100, Liberty Station. $7. 619.546.4872 or visionsartmuseum.org
Flying Leathernecks Aviation Museum
Twenty-seven aircraft, including the “Lady Ace” helicopter used to evacuate the U.S. ambassador from the embassy in Saigon on April 30, 1975, are available for viewing. To get inside some aircraft, check for open-cockpit days on certain weekends.
4203 Anderson Ave., Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. Free. 858.693.1723 or flyingleathernecks.org
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
Learning through play is the goal of this museum designed for kids up to 10 years old. The focus is on science, art and world culture. Daily activities include feeding chickens, art projects and story time.
320 N. Broadway, Escondido. $8. 760.233.7755 or sdcdm.org
Timken Museum of Art
Nicknamed the “jewel box,” the Timken displays old European masters, 19th-century American art and Russian icons, as well as the only Rembrandt publicly exhibited in San Diego.
1500 El Prado, Balboa Park. Free. 619.239.5548 or timkenmuseum.org
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
Located in what was once the heart of Chinatown, this museum celebrates Chinese art, culture and history from local, regional and global perspectives. Besides art and artifacts, the museum hosts a variety of events, including an annual Chinese New Year celebration and weekly free tai chi lessons.
404 Third Ave., San Diego. $5. 619.338.9888 or sdchm.org
J.A. Cooley Museum
Enter a time warp chockablock with antiques from the personal collection of Jim and Carmen Cooley. The eclectic display includes 15 cars, plus everything from clocks and cameras to phonographs and pianos. Added bonus: personal descriptions from Jim Cooley, who is often there.
4233 Park Blvd., North Park. $5. 619.296-3112 or find them on Facebook.
Schimitschek is a freelance writer.