USS Midway

Visiting the USS Midway Museum in San Diego

Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
••• Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum. Richard Cummins / Getty Images

The USS Midway is one of San Diego's most popular tourist attractions, which seems like an odd thing to say about a decommissioned aircraft carrier, even it has the extraordinary history of the Midway, which served the United States longer than any other aircraft carrier.

You may think this is an attraction just of history nerds or military buffs but in fact people of all ages like the USS Midway. It attracts more men visitors than women, but everyone likes it once they get there.

The Midway as the largest ship in the world when commissioned in 1945, it was retired in 1991. The decommissioned ship now serves her final tour of duty in San Diego, home to one-third of the Pacific Fleet and a large cadre of the Midway's former crew.

Visiting the USS Midway

On board the USS Midway, you can learn about life on a Navy ship and how airplanes land and take off from an aircraft carrier. Visitors tour many of the working areas and see restored aircraft. Volunteer docents, many who either served on the USS Midway or are former Navy pilots, provide live talks about the catapult and other operations.

The self-guided USS Midway audio tour, included in the entrance fee takes you to the mess deck, sleeping quarters, hangar deck, and flight deck. It incorporates the voices of many who served on the USS Midway, who tell the stories of their experiences there.

A volunteer tour guide will take you through the bridge, chart room, and primary flight control.

To avoid getting stuck in line for this part of the tour, the best strategy is to get there as soon as the USS Midway opens and go straight upstairs.

Learn how the USS Midway earned its name by watching a short film in The Battle of The Midway Theater. Included in the price of admission this 90-seat theater features a riveting film about the Battle of Midway.

It is an inspirational experience, a wonderful way to learn about the ship, and a good way to get a quick rest.

You can also live out your dream of flying by in one of the ship's Flight Simulators (for an additional charge).

While you're in San Diego, you may want to visit more than just the Midway. Find out about all the top sights in this guide. You can also see the Midway on a San Diego Harbor Cruise.

Visitor Services On the USS Midway

I didn't expect to stay as long on the USS Midway as I did. If that happens to you and you need some nourishment to continue, you can get something to eat at the Fantail Cafe.

Be Prepared for the USS Midway

  • Allow at least three hours to see everything on the USS Midway. If you're in a hurry, take their Express Tour.
  • Many doorways have a high threshold, and there are many stairs, some of them quite steep. Wear comfortable shoes with soles that give you firm footing.
  • If you don't like confined spaces, be glad you weren't stationed on the Midway. The barracks can feel very claustrophobic, and you might want to bypass that part of the tour.
  • Bring a bottle of water. Otherwise, all those stairs, tight quarters, and no air conditioning may leave you thirsty in the middle of the tour.
  • Elevators provide access to the hangar deck and flight deck.
  • Bring a light jacket; it can be windy on the Flight Deck.
  • Leave the big bags behind. Only modest-sized diaper bags and camera bags are allowed.
  • If you have a child in a stroller, be prepared. You will either have to take them out and park the stroller at the entrance or be prepared to skip some parts of the ship.
  • The USS Midway is a 100% non-smoking ship.

Where Is the USS Midway Located?

The Midway is docked at the Navy Pier, between the cruise ship terminal and Seaport Village

USS Midway
910 N. Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA
USS Midway Website

The USS Midway is docked on the San Diego waterfront not far from the cruise ship terminal. It's so big that it's hard to miss it if you're anywhere nearby.

By automobile, follow Harbor Drive south past the Maritime Museum.

Limited parking is available on the pier next to the USS Midway. If you're in an RV that's more than 18 feet long, the nearest parking is in metered spots on Pacific Highway, one block east of Harbor Drive.

Metered parking is also available along N. Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. The meters are cheaper than the lots, but they have a three-hour limit.

The San Diego Trolley stops three blocks from USS Midway at the Santa Fe Train Depot.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of reviewing the USS Midway Museum. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.