The New Children’s Museum San Diego

San Diego Children's Museum

The New Children’s Museum San Diego is an interactive museum in Downtown offering immersive art activities and installations for children of all ages, from toddler to tween. One of the top places to visit in San Diego with kids,  there are many great opportunities for fun and creativity at the New Children’s Museum. We have visited the museum twice on family holidays in San Diego, and in this post, I will share more about what to expect and tips for visiting this brilliant children’s museum.

New Children's Museum San Diego

Note: Masks are currently required for all guests (ages 2+) inside the New Children’s Museum, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required in outdoor spaces. Photos shown in this review are from pre-Covid times.

The New Children's Museum San Diego

The New Children’s Museum is spread out across three open floors with several interactive art installations and hands-on family activities. There is an outdoor patio with areas for enjoying painting and creating with clay, along with a new outdoor experience in the Museum Park offering more activities and opportunities to make art.

Missing Link

The Missing Link is a 30-foot inflatable rainbow-striped tunnel that kids will enjoy running, bouncing or rolling through! This colourful project was created by artist Felipe Dulzaides for Animal Art, the New Children’s Museum’s 2009 exhibition.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego


The New Children’s Museum is a great place to visit with young children, offering fun, hands-on activities for toddlers and dedicated play spaces for babies. Wobbleland is a beautifully designed, active space for children age 4 and under, and designed to be a giant kitchen sink with soft sculptures of food to be stacked, sorted or rocked.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

Paint Studio

The outdoor patio of the children’s museum features a fantastic paint studio. When we visited, there was a covered wagon, cacti and fence to be painted with the colour of the day! Now the Paint Studio features a 1950s Dodge truck. The paint, of course, washes off very easily and there’s a row of sinks nearby.

New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

Clay Studio

The Clay Studio is located on the other side of the outdoor patio at the New Children’s Museum San Diego, with plenty of tools and moulds to create art and an area to dry clay sculptures in the sun.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

Innovators Lab

The Innovators Lab at the New Children’s Museum is geared towards families with children aged 7-13. The children museum’s Creative Team works with local artists and experts from various fields – including architects and engineers – to create skill-building projects that explore real world issues.

Children's Museum San Diego

Topics have included buoyancy and electricity, and a current project explores balance and involves developing and sculpting your own spinning top out of wax.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

The Rain House

The vibrant Rain House is a creative space where children can explore and play like they might on a rainy day at home – complete with the gentle sounds of raindrops in the room.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

The Wonder Sound

The Wonder Sound is an amazing playhouse made with 18,000 hand-cut wooden shapes, a labyrinth of rooms and passageways, covered with beautiful paintings and inspiring messages.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

During both of our family museum visits, Little T had a blast climbing around here and ducking into the various rooms with other kids.

San Diego Children's Museum

Past Art Installations

The space at the museum is always changing, and New Children’s Museum regularly updates the details of their current art installations, workshops and programs on their website. In this section, I will share past art installations at the children’s museum that we enjoyed seeing and taking part in during our visits.


The Car-a-oake sculpture – a replica of the artist’s 1984 Mercedes Benz he bought when he moved to California – has a radio and microphone inside to bring out your inner dashboard superstar, belting out tunes like no one is watching. This installation questioned the effect that the car has on Californians, who each spend an average of 90 hours a year in traffic.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

Cardboard Chaos

Exactly what it says on the tin! Basically loads of cardboard and fabric which were perfect for building forts and much more.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

Desert Derby

Cars with a curvy track to move around on – the Desert Derby was particularly popular and an area we spent a lot of time in! I was interested to learn that the art installation was inspired by the California aqueduct, a 700-mile-long pipe and engineering feat that delivers water from Northern to Southern California. The blue shape in the center, blocked in with the dam, represents a reservoir to store water.

Although Southern California’s natural water supply can support only 2 million people, over 23 million people can live there thanks to the California aqueduct. It’s truly an engineering phenomenon, however, Southern Californians know more about the area’s freeways than their waterways.

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

There were several more studios and installations I haven’t covered here, along with a library and dress up box downstairs. It’s worth having a look at the New Children’s Museum’s website ahead of your visit to see the latest workshops and installations available, but you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time exploring this unique, creative space. It’s an excellent museum that caters so well to the whole family – and it’s no wonder all the local mothers I met are annual members. It’s a place we would certainly return to on our next family holiday in San Diego!

The New Children's Museum, San Diego, CA

Address & Ticket Info

[2021 Update] The New Children’s Museum San Diego is now open 5 days a week (Thursday to Monday) with two sessions per day: morning (9am-12pm) and afternoon (1-4pm). The children museum has a “Clean Between” period from 12 to 1pm, during which all guests will be asked to leave the building but can enjoy the outside park activities for free.

Address: 200 West Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

Opening Hours: Thursday to Monday – two sessions per day: morning (9am-12pm) and afternoon (1-4pm)

Advance reservations are not required. Tickets can be purchased as a walk-up or online for any day the New Children’s Museum San Diego is open.

Tickets: Adult and children 2+ tickets are $15.00; children under 2 go free; seniors (65+) $10 and military w/ ID $10.

Closest Trolley Stop: Convention Center Station

Parking: Street parking in the Downtown area is scarce and most spots are for 2 hour stay only. The New Children’s Museum has limited parking in its garage (accessed from Union Street) for $10 for non-members and $5 for members. It is worth checking the kids museum parking lot first since other parking lots in Downtown San Diego often charge a flat day rate of $15-$20.

PIN FOR LATER – Visiting the New Children’s Museum in Downtown San Diego

New Children's Museum San Diego


  1. Wow! That sounds like an amazing museum! I just love kids’ museums–such a great place to explore and learn in a safe and fun environment!

  2. Ooh this looks fun. I was going to say wobble land was May favourite bit but I’m pretty sure I’d have to drag all my boys out of the cardboard section! 🙂

  3. I love places where the kids can really get stuck in and hands on. Looks great! #mondayescapes

  4. Phenomenal museum – so much to do and so interactive. My kids would love it there. Thanks so much for sharing with #citytripping

  5. This looks amazing! I like the various different sections for different ages. Mine would adore it there…just need to sort a trip to San Deigo! Thanks for linking #citytripping

  6. Wow this look so amazing and takes interactiveness to a whole new level, I just love it. Thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

  7. What a fabulous place! I live in San Diego and didn’t know this great museum is here. I’m hoping to take my grandkids soon!

  8. I have loved following your adventures on Instagram. This looks like a really fab museum and one we would love to go to if we were in the area. My good friend is in CA so we must book a trip out there! Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

  9. This looks such a fabulous place – no wonder you spent so long there. I love the fact there are different options for the different age groups too. Looks like so much to explore. #citytripping

  10. It was a great place! I love how creative and interactive it was – can’t wait to go back. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Thanks Karen! It’s a great one to visit. Hope you do visit CA – I think you’d love San Diego!

  12. We really enjoyed it… so much to do and I’m curious to see what they’ll have going on when we go back later on this year. Thanks for stopping by and hope you and your grandkids have a great time when you visit!

  13. It’s an excellent museum! I really liked how they had something for all ages! Thanks for hosting #MondayEscapes

  14. It’s a fantastic museum! I loved that it has so many great activities and workshops going on for all ages – we really enjoyed our visit and would definitely recommend visiting. Thanks for hosting #CityTripping

  15. It’s a wonderful one and caters so well to all ages! We really enjoyed our day there and highly recommend it. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. It’s fantastic! Loved how many interactive activities and workshops they had for all ages. We loved it there! Thanks for stopping by!

  17. It’s a great one! Loved it there!

  18. The cardboard chaos room was great fun! Such a fun idea too! Thanks for stopping by!

  19. It’s a wonderful museum! We loved it and it was great how many activities they had for young children, sometimes we don’t have many options but there was plenty for my son to do there. Thanks for stopping by!

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