San Diego Model Railroad Museum: Highlights, Tickets & Tips

San Diego Model Railroad Museum: Highlights, Tickets & Tips

  • 1649 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego Model Railroad Museum is the one accredited mannequin railroad museum within the nation. This distinctive attraction has 5 everlasting reveals that show scale fashions of working locomotives, tracks, tools, reasonable surroundings, and extra in miniature representations of actual California railroads.

A unique railroad membership or native mannequin practice skilled operates every of those everlasting reveals:

  • The Tehachapi Pass
  • The Cabrilla Southwestern and San Diego & Arizona Eastern
  • The Centennial Railway Garden
  • Pacific Desert Lines
  • The Toy Train Gallery 

Plus, you’ll see a rotating exhibit which will function gadgets from the museum’s assortment or different features of mannequin railroading and American rail historical past.

You’ll discover the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park, one of many finest locations to go to in San Diego, the place there are 16 different museums, a number of gardens, and the San Diego Zoo. Look for the Casa de Balboa constructing on El Prado — the Museum of Photographic Arts and Museum of San Diego History are right here, too.


Here are some highlights of the museum:

  • Running trains: The Toy Train Gallery has operating toy trains on a 3 rail O gauge monitor, rated among the finest ten layouts by Classic Toy Trains journal in 2012.
  • Enormous dioramas: Roughly 1500 sq. ft, you may see a duplicate of the Pacific Desert Lines structure within the authentic 1855 route that was by no means constructed. It’s 1/a hundred and sixtieth scale and exhibits off not simply the trains however the beautiful California panorama.
  • Landscapes and surroundings: There are many practice route replicas you may see, together with the Cabrillo Southwestern and San Diego & Arizona Eastern, and the Tehachapi Pass. These shows function the trains but additionally go into beautiful element in regards to the native landscapes. 
  • Details within the structure and decorations: Each mannequin exactly replicates the route the practice took and likewise contains minute particulars on the trains themselves.
  • History and schooling: Each show goes into the historical past of the rail line, protecting the historical past of the realm and the trains alive.

Top 5 Things To Know About the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Of course, the museum is a no brainer when you or your loved ones adores touring by practice. However, earlier than you head there, now we have a few ideas for what to know in regards to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum earlier than you go.

Hours and Admission

San Diego Model Railroad Museum tickets are priced as follows:

  • Adults: $13.50
  • Seniors, Military, and Students (ages 12-17 and 18+ with a legitimate pupil ID): $9
  • Children ages 3–12: $6
  • Children ages 2 and youthful: Free

If you’re a resident of San Diego County, you and your loved ones can go to totally free each first Tuesday of the month. 

Two Sightseeing Pass Choices

Bundle admission to San Diego Model Railroad Museum (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 embody SDMRM and over 50 different San Diego points of interest.

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

Balboa Park Explorer Pass

This go contains 16 collaborating Balboa Park Museums.

Choose considered one of three go choices that embody a Parkwide Pass good for seven consecutive days, an Annual Pass (finest for residents), or a Limited Pass that features any 4 collaborating venues good for someday.

You can go to the museum Tuesday via Sunday, 11 a.m-4 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Temporary Exhibits

Although the museum has everlasting reveals, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum will usually host a touring or momentary exhibit.

These reveals change all year long, however previous reveals have targeted on sure features of trains, such because the passion of constructing mannequin trains and the assorted passenger automobiles all through historical past. 

You can verify the exhibit record to see what the momentary exhibit will probably be throughout your go to.

Library and Gift Shop

Once you’ve explored the reveals, you may head to the library for extra data or the reward store to purchase souvenirs.

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum has a small however increasing library. We’re speaking over 10,000 books, magazines, maps, catalogs, and a lot extra masking railroading in America, with emphasis on the Southwest and Southern California.

There can be a web-based library and e book donation web page do you have to prefer to contribute to the gathering. As the museum tries to protect the artwork of mannequin practice constructing, they’re working in the direction of a digital archive as properly. 

Workshops, Summer Camps & Educational Resources

If you’re a native, benefit from extra than simply the free Tuesday ticket value. The San Diego Model Rail Road Museum additionally affords a faculty workshop for center faculties and excessive faculties. The workshop focuses on grade-appropriate studying and overview video games and the historical past of the railroad trade. 

You can enroll your youngsters in summer season camps out there via the museum as properly. These camps meet on the museum and undergo the fundamentals of practice constructing. They delve into the historical past of the trains within the space and discover the dioramas additional. 

Don’t neglect to take a look at their academic sources, as these printables are enjoyable for visiting households, too.

  • Print the self-guided museum tour earlier than you go. Kids might take pleasure in filling within the STEAM-centric questions and the crossword puzzle.
  • Print the museum enjoyable details to note issues within the shows it’s possible you’ll not know to search for and extra.

Other Things To Do within the Balboa Park Area

Plan to spend an hour or so, relying in your stage of curiosity, on the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. However, you may plan a whole day at Balboa Park.

Seventeen museums make up Balboa Park, together with the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Once you’ve checked out your fill of practice automobiles, you may head to a different museum, seize lunch at considered one of our favourite Balboa Park eating places, browse the gardens, and even pop into the Zoo. Either method, there’s a lot to do close by.

Why We Love the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Things to Do in Balboa Park: San Diego Model Railroad Museum

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is certainly one of many Park’s hidden gems. Of course, younger practice fans and collectors will get probably the most enjoyment out of this museum. However, go to even when your youngsters don’t rave about trains. If you have got one of many sightseeing passes that I like to recommend, there’s no cause to not pop in.

The museum can be particular as a result of you may adapt the knowledge to any age. A toddler may merely take pleasure in watching the trains go by within the dioramas. An older child can perform a little research and study in regards to the historical past of a particular practice or the passion of constructing mannequin railroads. Adults might admire the intelligent method of mixing STEAM subjects, the historical past of California railroads, and enjoyable collectively in a novel museum expertise.

Again, among the finest components is the eye to element. Moving mannequin trains whiz via fantastically painted landscapes on traditionally correct practice routes — in each indoor and out of doors settings.

Final Thoughts

Next time you might be in Balboa Park, cease by the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. The expertise is greater than definitely worth the value of admission. 


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