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Visit The San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park! Cars have become so ubiquitous that they’ve become part of the landscape of our lives. It takes a lot of “wow factor” to get us to notice any certain car. Every single car at the museum has the “wow factor” in abundance!

The fabulous collection of exhibits includes Louis Mattar’s Fabulous Car. This 1947 Cadillac was equipped with an electric stove, a refrigerator, a washing machine, a chemical toilet, an ironing board, a medicine cabinet, and, believe it or not, a kitchen sink.

The Museum offers guided tours, too you’ll learn the intriguing history behind America’s love affair with the automobile. Come to the San Diego Automotive Museum, it’s all here! You won’t want to miss all the cool cars and bikes the museum has! Spend the day at Balboa Park and find some of the best museums San Diego has to offer.

The original idea of creating an automotive museum in Balboa Park came from Briggs Cunningham. He was a renowned automobile collector and racer. The idea circulated for many years until an inspired group of local automotive enthusiasts propelled the idea forward. In 1979, the San Diego City Council first considered the issue. A year later they gave unanimous approval to the museum and granted a long-term lease for one of the historic buildings in the jewel of San Diego, Balboa Park.

After spending approximately $1 million renovating and upgrading the building, the San Diego Automotive Museum opened in December of 1988. Since then millions of local auto enthusiasts and tourists from all over the world have visited our world-class collection. Today the museum stands as a living tribute to the automobile and what it has meant to our culture.

San Diego Automotive Museum
4.4
Based on 1761 reviews
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Justin Ward
Justin Ward
17:09 19 Jul 24
Really great automotive museum they have some great cars on display from throughout the years. There's also a mixture... of cars, motorcycles, and trucks. While we were there, they had a special exhibit of low riders from a local San Diego car club that was really cool to see.read more
TJJ
TJJ
15:55 17 Jul 24
This museum is great for car buffs. It is also not real big, so if cars are not your thing, it’s a quick visit and you... can move on to other Balboa Park attractions. The show room areas offers an eclectic mix of cars. I like it when museums provide some context for the cars they display. This museum offers thoughtful and interesting details. This museum is a good way to spend an hour with the car fan in your family. We’d return, but not in a big rush.read more
John Gould (Almostgem)
John Gould (Almostgem)
20:01 18 Jun 24
All of the curators are enthusiasts. Had several good conversations with them. They have cars that are a part of the... museum, but they also get cars on loan from the owners. There wasn't a question I asked that wasn't answered, and overhearing other conversations were the sameread more
YAN GUO
YAN GUO
08:47 09 Apr 24
Went with our 21 month old baby. Great museum! Friendly staff! Last time was 10 years ago. There are racing games and... car toys, which are loved by both children and adults! Beautiful cars, the toy cars for sale are reasonably priced and good quality! My baby loved it!read more
Graham Tranter
Graham Tranter
18:04 29 Feb 24
This was our second stop in touring all Balboa Park had to offer and was one of our 3 favorites from the trip. It... started out great with an SR71 chassis on display outside the building.Inside the museum is separated into exploration (including space), old civilian (Spirit of Saint Louis), old military and new military with some nicely setup diorama's. My travel companion is into planes so this was a great museum for us to visit and we would definitely do it again.I don't think it quite stacks up to the Air Museum in Seattle in terms of number of planes, but the layout, diorama's and additional things like pictures, writeups, and so on may have been better. We bought the all museum access pass which made this a $4-5 visit. Well worth it.read more
Joshua Hankins
Joshua Hankins
01:47 06 Jan 24
Fun. For the price ($8 a ticket) you get what you pay for. Cars with descriptions. It’s a one way museum with some cool... gags, like a delorean and a racing simulator (not operational while we visited). Spent around 45 minutes there, but you could spend more time. Wouldn’t go back unless they updated things, but for what it is, it’s fun!read more
Adin Herber
Adin Herber
00:48 27 Nov 23
They have some really cool cars here, I just wish it was bigger! We were in and out fairly quick. Love the Impalas they... have in thereread more
Eric Weller
Eric Weller
07:08 06 Nov 23
Lenny and his team have really put in work to make the SD Automotive Museum a must - see for out of towners and San... Diegans combined! There’s always something on the move and displays / exhibits being updated. Of course - I am a bit biased with the new San Diego Highwayman permanent exhibit - honoring my Fathers 50+ year investment into helping others on the road! But even aside from that amazing Exhibit - Lenny’s really honed in on what makes the museum a great place to visit for the whole family! Stop by and check it out!read more
Cindy Mohr
Cindy Mohr
15:36 14 Sep 23
My 4 year old grandson really loved checking out the cars. They had a couple of cars he could sit in and he enjoyed... those the mostread more
Mark
Mark
20:34 10 Aug 23
I love this place! Totally worth the entrance fee.It's not as big as I thought it was going to be, but if you were the... kind of person who likes reading about the displays, this place is for you. I spent 2.5 hours there and easily could have spent another hour.If you are not into reading the details and just like to browse, you might find it a bit small.read more
Deanna Walters
Deanna Walters
03:15 26 Jul 23
They rotate some of there exhibits through time. They had some amazing custom ones there at this time. Came to do cars... and coffee and saw some cool cars that i have never seen then went inside to check out the cars and bikesread more
VOILNCE
VOILNCE
04:39 20 Jul 23
Very fun but very small museum to see! I love all the cars and its a great place to be at.
Stephen Weessies
Stephen Weessies
21:35 04 Jul 23
Lots of fun exhibits for adults and kids. A lot of interactive exhibits as well. I loved seeing the mixture of early... flight, through the wars, and modern eras.read more
Kraig Beale
Kraig Beale
07:30 25 Jun 23
The knowledgeable docents werevery helpfulA vast Harley Indian collectionMany performance and vintage bikes... too.Many remarkable carsMarvin Gaye's Rolls -Royce was one of my favorite.read more
kathryn cronwall
kathryn cronwall
05:17 13 Jun 23
Great place for the whole family. Motorcycle enthusiasts will love this collection. My favorite was the Chevy Bel... Air. Such character back then.read more
mahmoud jasaar
mahmoud jasaar
23:02 07 Jun 23
Great experience. Parking on the weekend is almost impossible so go early!!And def worth checking out their gift shop!
David
David
04:23 21 May 23
This place is amazing. Recommend to any car enthusiast. They have some gentlemen there that are incredibly... knowledgeable and courteous. Unique vehicles, very clean, very organized.read more
Eric Strohl
Eric Strohl
02:22 20 May 23
Small museum with a wide assortment of cars. Could be more interesting if you like motorcycles, I feel they have an... even broader assortment of bikes. The museum is of high quality and there was a lot of thought put into each display. You can even get a photo op in a couple of the vehicles.read more
Dave Arce
Dave Arce
11:12 09 Aug 22
All involved that put together this Cajon Speedway event at the San Diego Automotive Museum Sunday August 7 did an... awesome job. All the administrative help was fantastic. Could not have been any better than recognizing Jerry Gay and Vance Butler for there effort in racing as well as their wins and championships. Also, Becky McBride always, always does an outstanding job getting all of us together.It sounds like new and exciting things are ahead to help our kids in this industry....I can't wait to see the success!Thank you for a great experience!Daveread more
Andrew Collins
Andrew Collins
03:07 06 Aug 22
Very cool auto museum. We spent about an hour and a half looking at all the cars and motorcycles (but most people... seemed to move a lot quicker through it). Definitely recommend.read more
TheDaniel
TheDaniel
20:21 04 Aug 22
Great look at some cars you would never spot on public roads, well-focused on 80s and 90s. Of course, there are a lot... of 60s & 70s classics as well. There’s even a 2050 GTR concept car. Interestingly there’s even used scale model cars on display in the gift shop which you can buy. My only real complaint about the museum is the complete lack of iconic 90s JDM cars. As of summer 2022 there aren’t any 90s Japanese cars on display. That might be fixed when they change the cars they show off, since they do that very often. I think they might even bring in an R32 GTR.read more
Daria Gubina
Daria Gubina
01:51 24 Jul 22
Me and my 5 yo love it. It's not big but has a lot to see. We like an old man working there. The price is very... reasonable.read more
Marcel Ojeda
Marcel Ojeda
21:21 11 Jul 22
I love the San Diego Auto Museum. Unlike most auto museums they're constantly rotating stock so you never get bored... with the experience and the learning about the history they have San Diego. It's not the biggest Museum but what they have is breathtaking. Not just the automobiles but also motorcycles as well. If you haven't gone make it a priority. You won't regret it.read more
Ashley Gutowski
Ashley Gutowski
11:58 06 Jul 22
Great museum with a lot of special different cars to see. Only downside is we wishes it was bigger. Does not take long... to see e everything. But overall felt worth the visit.Went on a Saturday and it was not very crowded when opened.read more
david young
david young
02:02 18 Jun 22
Awesome place so much has changed since last time I was there and since then I've seen several new cars posted on their... Facebook page. Can't wait to go back soon.read more
Alan Krahenbuhl
Alan Krahenbuhl
19:45 26 May 22
I love this Place! The Vehicles are simply amazing. Such a rich history of autos on display. I highly recommend take... the time took visit.read more
Tiffany Cantor
Tiffany Cantor
22:05 02 Apr 22
My son asked to stop in this museum when we were at Balboa Park. We had the Go City pass, so we went for it. He had a... wonderful time. They have a lot of amazing cars and the staff are fantastic and very knowledgeable.read more
Mark Kollar
Mark Kollar
16:08 17 Mar 22
Had a good visit. Overall, a bit small, but they were able to fit a nice variety in the space. Some really great... history and stories behind most of the vehicles. If you're an automotive enthusiast, it's a nice stop in for about an hour.read more
Brian Keenan
Brian Keenan
14:34 07 Mar 22
An awesome experience. They have a whole lot of cars and old motorcycles. They even allowed the visitors to sit inside... a DeLorean. With the information and the cars on display, this is a great stop to do for an hour or two.read more
Crystal Lefoy
Crystal Lefoy
15:47 17 Feb 22
Glad I was able to attend for 50% during the month of February. Museum is very small and not interactive (other than... the DeLorean car that you can sit in). This museum does not give off family friendly vibes IMO. The cars on exhibit are nice, but would like to see more things to interact with & do while here.read more
Ronald W.
Ronald W.
02:46 23 Dec 21
Too much great stuff to see in on day. Plan on coming back multiple times and maybe you might see it all. Cool building... in the winter and hot during the summer according to ticket people. Can't wait to see more of this museum.read more
Karina Pushko
Karina Pushko
04:34 25 Nov 21
Too small exhibition for 15$/adult. Spent around 30 min to look all the exhibits. Nice and clean but nothing too special
L Wang
L Wang
15:33 03 Oct 21
Went on an early morning; place was quiet and well-kept, and the staff were very pleasant. The museum itself was a nice... collection of cars and motorcycles. I echo every other visitor who said sitting in the DeLorean is an absolute joy.read more
Jimmy Vee
Jimmy Vee
19:04 21 Sep 21
Great eye-opening walk through history's automotive creations. You get a sense of the style and quality of the era each... car was produced. There's a plaque for each engineered work of art which includes a brief detailed short. Lots of history here.read more
Janell Eidson
Janell Eidson
18:51 03 Sep 21
This place rocks 😊 So many fascinating autos! I had a blast with my boyfriend checking out the hot rods. Loved it
Denis LeClair
Denis LeClair
13:35 25 Aug 21
Always the best for Mexican local fast food. The burritos are gigantic and the chimichangas are excellent. Sometimes... parking is tough and I suggest as a take out restaurant.read more
Amy Beck
Amy Beck
23:07 24 Aug 21
I would give zero stars but that wasn't an option. Due to the Automotive Museums lack of communication, they closed... hours early and didn't update their website. They had a paper posted on their door stating the updated hours (very helpful 🙄) Then when I informed their staff, They argued that it was updated though I can see right now it is not.read more
Joshua Utley
Joshua Utley
00:46 22 Aug 21
A great activity. It is a diverse collection with some vehicles rotating in and out. So be sure to come back often.... It's always a treat.read more
Monique Favard
Monique Favard
17:48 21 Aug 21
It was wonderful, great cars from the past and present, very expensive cars that I've never seen in person. Highly... recommend this museum.read more
D F
D F
23:51 14 Aug 21
You can likely see better cars in any parking lot. Especially not worth the inconvenience of going all the way to where... it is just for that museum. It's not near the main Balboa park area and museums. it's a hike and/or drive to get there. Not worth the time money in my opinion.read more
Seth Southern
Seth Southern
22:56 14 Aug 21
Great museum with all sorts of explanations about science. Many of the exhibits are interactive, it's great fun for... little kids and even late teenagers like we had with us. If you are in Balboa Park do not miss the science center.read more
Joe Jung
Joe Jung
15:56 09 Aug 21
Don't expect a huge collection of cars. There are around 30 cars in the museum and about a dozen motorcycles. Simple... clean museum to visit.read more
Giovanni Figueroa
Giovanni Figueroa
01:37 02 Aug 21
Loved it. They need a bigger budget and a better gift shop.
m k
m k
22:09 29 Jul 21
Not very interactive, not particularly inspired display or storytelling. But cool cars.
Sharon
Sharon
03:07 23 Jul 21
The cruise was nice, I recommend sitting on starboard side of ship, and they sell snacks and drinks. The lost star is... because their hours of operation are not very clear. The cruise is not actually 90 minutes. Thirty-forty minutes for boarding, and then the rest is cruising. I enjoyed the narration during the cruise. Make a reservation...even with the GO City pass.read more
Rob Baresel
Rob Baresel
20:56 14 Jul 21
The collection is impressive. The old Indians, Harleys and motorcycles are very nice. The Lamborghini Countach is... always awesome to see up close.read more
J adams
J adams
13:05 13 Jul 21
Nice display, but far smaller than anticipated. Bugatti Veyron was not on display ;-(
Oscar Rey
Oscar Rey
16:02 18 Jun 21
Was expecting more. They had beautiful cars but you don't get what you paid for imo. This is my fourth automotive... museum I've been to and it's definitely in last place compared to the rest. For comparison two of the ones I've been to are The NHRA Motorsports Museum and the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento.read more
Ralph Shelton
Ralph Shelton
19:08 17 Jun 21
Excellent collection with a couple of special surprises. Appeals to more than just gearheads (although gearheads will... especially love it)read more
Naria Kitahara
Naria Kitahara
02:21 16 Jun 21
It was a great experience. My boyfriend and I had a good time
Jason Kinman
Jason Kinman
04:00 11 Jun 21
Some cars. Some motorcycles. Not too much history. It's a good time waster between museums if you purchased the... explorer pass.read more
Elayne Bendel
Elayne Bendel
02:58 05 Jun 21
Fun experience and friendly staff. Great destination for car club events.
Haydee Hernandez
Haydee Hernandez
02:27 30 May 21
The kids and I really enjoyed visiting the automotive museum today. Price to enter is $7 for kids, $10 senior, and $14... adults. Place is small but they have really cool cars and motorcycles.read more
Ben Koonse
Ben Koonse
00:27 23 May 21
Love going and seeing vintage autos and motorcycles. Reading there history and learning something new.
George Dipp
George Dipp
03:28 20 Apr 21
Great for car lovers and kids alike. Super fun
Stephanie A
Stephanie A
17:19 13 Mar 21
If you love antique automobiles, you won't be disappointed!
Walter Brealey
Walter Brealey
19:57 05 Jan 21
History on display at one of America's aviation manufacturing cities. From the Spirit of St. Louis to the birthplace of... naval aviation, Consolidated Aircraft, Ruben H. Fleet, Ryan Aeronautical, General Dynamics. One of America's finest targets. Don't miss it.read more
Cody Blackledge
Cody Blackledge
18:14 02 Nov 20
A very impressive collection. The era-specific exhibits were really detailed and not just automotive. Excited to go... back when the next set of exhibits rotates in!read more
Shawna Lee
Shawna Lee
19:34 24 Oct 20
Small but packed with awesome cars and motorcycles from movies as well
James Zuehl
James Zuehl
15:43 10 Oct 20
Good history of cars, motorcycles, other stuff to bring memories back.
Jim r
Jim r
21:51 07 Aug 20
Cool place to clean out the car until the sprinklers come on as you have everything outside and you have to scramble to... gather it all up real quick like...read more
Alex Adams
Alex Adams
22:15 24 Jun 20
Quiet low stress place to visit during COVID-19. Good visual exhibits and information.
BOBBEE BISHOP
BOBBEE BISHOP
16:44 02 Jun 20
MY FATHER STARTED IT ALL BACK IN THE BEGGINING WHEN HE MOVED THE CLOGGERS OUT AND THE CARS IN. I ORGANIZED THE BIKES... AND SPENT OVER 20 YEARS IN AND OUT OF HER.read more
Andy Stepney
Andy Stepney
17:19 10 Mar 20
Great selection of vehicles. Some iconic tv and film vehicles and other significant models and customisation. Friendly... and informative staff. Can get up and close to see the vehicles.read more
Dan Cary
Dan Cary
15:08 28 Feb 20
Parts of the museum were free on Tuesday so my friend and I went down to see the advertised cars. When we approached... the advertised section of cars they wanted $2.00. The small amount of money was not a problem but advertising deceptively was a problem. I call it lying. Next time you advertise be honest. Just charge $5.00 for adults to see everything. That would be a deal.read more
Rev Terry Scott
Rev Terry Scott
21:55 25 Feb 20
Small eclectic assembly of cars, many motorcycles. We went on the "free" Tues. Guess what? It's not ENTIRELY free!... They have a special section with an exhibit for $2.00. Now I know $2 is not much.But if they say it's free, it should be FREE.The reason for 4 stars. The cars on show are wonderful.The International harvester is the quintessential Horseless carriage. The Reo is early sophistication. The Cord is Glamorous and the Cadillac is substantial even back then.Nice way to spend the morning.read more
Roberto Madrigal
Roberto Madrigal
04:55 22 Feb 20
A car and motorcycle fan's dream. They recently had a low rider exhibit that I really enjoyed. The mainstays are great,... historical and interesting. Love the three eyed Tucker and the old Indian and Harley bikes.read more
Trey
Trey
20:47 17 Feb 20
Definitely worth a stop if you are seeing some of the other museums in the area and want to kill some time. This is not... a huge museum but they do have a great collection of cars to see and they rotate most of the cars out every 4 months, so you might end up seeing something new and unique the next time you stop by. There are cars, motorcycles, and few old vintage cars. The museum has a collection that closely resembles some of the automotives that are shown on the History channel show American Pickers. If you're into older automotives then this is definitely a good place to check out.read more
Zack M
Zack M
02:20 21 Jan 20
The automotive isn’t the best that I have ever been to, but it is actually a pretty good museum.They have a really... nice selection of classic and rare automobiles, and they do have a good amount of motorcycles. Most of these pieces are standard at the museum and don’t change. They are always there when we visit.This season they are featuring low riders and they have an impressive collection of exquisitely painted and detailed low riders. Most of them are Chevy Impalas, which are a staple of the low rider crowd. There was also a Lincoln Continental and an old school Buick Riviera.All in all it’s a pretty good Car museum for the $12 admission fee. I recommend going at least once.read more
Shannon Gardner
Shannon Gardner
14:55 17 Jan 20
What a unique and fun experience. I have been here several times and always enjoy walking around to see all of the... cool cars and motorcycles they have on display. Some of the display stays the same month to month but they also bring in different themes for variety. Such as movie star cars was really a fun display to see!read more
Emily Goldstein
Emily Goldstein
13:08 29 Nov 19
This museum was worth the money! Look for the 2 for 1 admission coupon on the counter of the International Gift Shop -... just $12 for 2 people. They had the Low-Rider event going on with amazing detail of cars and art. The displays were very informative and choice of cars were superb. The gentleman who was there was so interesting with details & stories. This is a smaller museum but packed with good displays!read more
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