If you're heading to San Diego, make sure to include a visit to the USS Midway Museum. First launched in 1945 and decommissioned in 1992, the USS Midway is one of America's longest running aircraft carriers, and it opened to the public as a museum in 2004.
We started our day by arriving nearly an hour before the museum opened. We weren't the only ones. The crowds began to build and we were glad to have been at the front of the line when the USS Midway opened at 10am. Our tickets were a bargain, $20.00 for adults and $17.00 for seniors, not a bad deal for an attraction that could easily fill an entire day. Admission included a self-guided audio tour.
The USS Midway Museum is filled with helpful volunteers. One of the volunteers at the entrance, gave us the best tip of the day; to immediately head to the top of the carrier for a guided tour of The Bridge. Access to The Bridge includes climbing a series of narrow ladders with low ceilings, and the tours are broken into small groups of 10-15 visitors. The tours are first come/first serve and can close early due to capacity issues on busy days. If you are physically able to make the climb, this is a must-see, and should be done at the beginning of the day. We were in the first tour group and by the time we finished, fifteen minutes later, the line was curling around the ship.
Pictures from The Bridge- Note the pane of glass with writing, this was one of the most stressful jobs on the carrier. They had to learn to write backwards, quickly and accurately. Mistakes and second chances were not an option.
The Flight Deck was amazing! This was the best part of the audio tour, with each aircraft having a personal story told by a pilot who flew the plane. I could have spent hours here, but unfortunately it was baking hot. Scrambling eggs on asphalt hot. The heat and crowds shaved a few hours off of our visit.
Inside the carrier, we explored "Life at Sea", checking out the dining rooms, laundry, living quarters, chapel, barber, medical, et...
Our last stop was the boiler room, where a docent was on hand to answer questions. I was impressed with the large number of docents on the ship. They were all very knowledgable and welcoming.
Exhausted from the heat, we left around 1pm, having spent approximately three hours on the USS Midway. Did I see it all? Not even close. The audio tour was such a treasure of personal accounts and information, that I could have spent all day enjoying it. If you visit with children, they have an audio tour specifically for younger visitors, and they have tons of kid-centric educational activities. We saw all ages engaged and enjoying their visit. This is a first class museum.
Most, if not all, of the volunteers are retired military, but they also have a very special "Meet WW2 Veterans" on certain days. Although I didn't visit a WW2 Veteran during our Midway visit, I did it at Pearl Harbor many years ago and it was a memorable experience. Unfortunately, the veterans will not be around for much longer, so make sure to stop by the table and visit with them, thank them for their service.
One last shot as we left the USS Midway Museum. See Dan's parents waiting for us below? They found a shady spot, while we went in the gift shop.