San Diego Automotive Museum: Highlights, Tips & Tickets


  • 2080 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101

Whether you reside within the metropolis or are simply visiting for the weekend and looking for enjoyable issues to do in San Diego, the San Diego Automotive Museum (SDAM) is a must-see. Car fanatic or not, there’s lots to pique your curiosity right here.

The museum highlights the auto’s contributions to our tradition by instructing guests in regards to the car’s social and technological previous, current, and future. This is completed by various displays, starting from historic barn vehicles to worldwide bikes. 

The San Diego Automotive Museum additionally flaunts a powerful assortment of classic vehicles. Trust us once we say this assortment is a automotive fanatic’s dream come true and that you need to see it.


While there are cool vehicles and bikes to have a look at, what’s much more fascinating is why they’re there. It’s additionally enjoyable to see the evolution of styling and horsepower through the years, however look out for these favorites.

  • The museum’s sturdy assortment of bikes is a pleasing shock to most friends. Forty bikes sit on show, courting all the way in which again to the early 1900s. 
  • Calling all Back to the Future followers—the museum has a DeLorean DMC-12 on their present ground. Guests may even hop within the automotive for an image.
  • A set of basic vehicles is the focus of the San Diego Automotive Museum. Each one is full with a brief description and unique worth. 
  • Louie Mattar’s Cadillac alone is sufficient purpose to go to the museum. We received’t spoil the story behind the automotive. Just comprehend it’s value seeing in particular person. 
  • Remaining true to southern California’s tradition, the SDAM boasts a set of classic lowriders which are enjoyable to peruse and be taught the historical past behind.

Top 5 Things To Know About the San Diego Automotive Museum

The San Diego Automotive Museum is simple to navigate, however we’ll present a number of additional suggestions to make sure you profit from your expertise. 

Admission Tips

If you’re a San Diego resident, you may go to totally free on the fourth Tuesday of each month. All you need to carry is your I.D. 

If you’re not a resident however are planning on visiting, you may purchase your tickets upfront on-line. However, they’re solely good for one week from the acquisition date. Prices embrace:

  • Adults (18-64): $14.50
  • Seniors (65+): $10
  • Military (With ID): $10
  • Student (With ID): $10
  • Youth (5-17): $8.50
  • Ages 0-4: FREE

Two Sightseeing Pass Choices

Bundle admission to SDMRM with different points of interest throughout San Diego or simply in Balboa Park.

Go San Diego Pass

Both the All-Inclusive and Explorer sightseeing passes embrace SDMRM and over 50 different San Diego points of interest.

Use promo code lajollamom for 10% off by December 31, 2022.

Balboa Park Explorer Pass

This go consists of 16 taking part Balboa Park Museums.

Choose certainly one of three go choices that embrace a Parkwide Pass good for seven consecutive days, an Annual Pass (finest for residents), or a Limited Pass that features any 4 taking part venues good for sooner or later.

You may purchase a present certificates to the museum for any mates or members of the family planning on visiting San Diego quickly.


The museum is conveniently 5 minutes from downtown San Diego, in Balboa Park’s Pan American Plaza. It’s straightforward to entry from main freeways, together with the I-5 and Highway 163. 

You’ll park totally free within the Pan American Plaza parking space (you may’t miss it) and can simply be capable of stroll out of your automotive to the museum. If the lot is full, you may search for free road parking.

If you’re within the temper for a day of edutainment, you’re in luck — SDAM neighbors the San Diego Air and Space Museum and the Comic-Con Museum. Other widespread Balboa Park museums are a brief stroll away.

Car Shows 

If you may’t make it to the San Diego Automotive Museum however wish to see their vehicles, preserve an eye fixed out for exterior alternatives.

For instance, the museum participates within the Cajon Classic Cruise Car Show in Downtown El Cajon, simply twenty minutes west of Balboa Park. The present options various kinds of vehicles each Wednesday. Check their calendar to discover a day that piques your curiosity. The SDAM employees might be on-site to talk and reply any questions you or your little ones might have.

Cars and Coffee  

As you may see, San Diego Automotive Museum is well-known for interacting with the group. Another method they do that is by vehicles and low. On the third Sunday of each month, the museum invitations San Diego residents or guests to carry their basic vehicles and chat with employees over espresso. 

The occasion takes place at 7:30 a.m., and the museum opens early at 8 a.m. with a reduced ticket worth till 10 a.m. 

If you’re not on the town for the vehicles and low occasion, they take part in comparable occasions, the place you may discuss to museum employees and examine the vehicles. The particulars are under: 

  • Cars, espresso, and doughnuts: Monthly on the twenty fourth at 6755 Mira Mesa Blvd Suite 128, San Diego, California 92121 at 7 a.m. 
  • JBA Speed Shop vehicles and low: On the second Sunday of every month at 5675 Kearny Villa Rd, San Diego, CA, 92123, at 5:30 a.m. 

Rotating Exhibits 

The SDAM showcases an everyday assortment of classic vehicles and bikes, however they preserve issues fascinating by inventive, rotating displays. 

A number of of their previous highlight exhibitions included Evel Knievel’s motorbike, steampunk creations, and vehicles with characters—an exhibit that includes vehicles from widespread films, equivalent to Cars and Scooby Doo. 

If you’re inquisitive about which exhibit you’ll get to expertise, verify their web site’s present exhibitions web page or join their publication to obtain notifications about upcoming exhibitions. 

Why We Love the San Diego Automotive Museum 

There’s lots to adore in regards to the San Diego Automotive Museum.

Vocational Education Academy 

The SDAM does a variety of good, however the vocational schooling academy is probably the most noteworthy. 

The museum companions with group schools and automotive companies to supply under-resourced college students with post-secondary schooling within the automotive subject. The academy additionally teaches college students accountable fiscal expertise, equivalent to budgeting. 

Upon graduating from the academy, college students are ready with a portfolio of expertise and arrange with interviews at native automotive outlets, equivalent to Discount Tire and NAPA. 


The San Diego Automotive Museum has a powerful choice of automotive literature, starting from restore manuals to classic magazines. 

Over 65,000 items of literature make up the museum’s library. This huge assortment seemingly has the reply to any automotive-related query you’ve ever had. 

Knowledgeable volunteers employees the library and are greater than in a position to level you in the appropriate route. However, even for those who don’t have any burning questions, the library is undoubtedly value perusing. 

Knowledgeable Staff 

In addition to educated teams of volunteers, the museum additionally has a well-versed and pleasant employees. Visitors incessantly rave about how a lot the staff improve the expertise. 

They’re vessels of information ready to reply any of your questions or provide enjoyable details a few piece of their assortment you discover fascinating. 

If you have got questions that come up earlier than or after your go to, you’ll find the employees’s contact data on the museum’s web site. 

The Gift Shop 

SDAM has the present store of children’ goals. The superb present store comprises enjoyable shirts, memorabilia, and a set of classic sizzling wheels.

If you may’t make it to the present store in particular person, hop on-line. The museum’s present store is so good that they’ve posted some gadgets on eBay

Even higher? Anything you buy within the present store goes again to the automotive museum. Meaning your buy isn’t solely enhancing SDAM however serving to alongside efforts just like the vocational schooling academy. 

Top picture credit score: Another Believer, CC BY-SA 4.0, through Wikimedia Commons


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