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San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum: Highlights, Tickets & Ideas

  • 1649 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego Mannequin 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, real looking surroundings, and extra in miniature representations of actual California railroads.

A special railroad membership or native mannequin prepare professional operates every of those everlasting reveals:

  • The Tehachapi Move
  • The Cabrilla Southwestern and San Diego & Arizona Japanese
  • The Centennial Railway Backyard
  • Pacific Desert Strains
  • The Toy Practice Gallery 

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

You’ll discover the San Diego Mannequin 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. Search for the Casa de Balboa constructing on El Prado — the Museum of Photographic Arts and Museum of San Diego Historical past are right here, too.


Listed below are some highlights of the museum:

  • Operating trains: The Toy Practice Gallery has working toy trains on a 3 rail O gauge monitor, rated top-of-the-line ten layouts by Basic Toy Trains journal in 2012.
  • Huge dioramas: Roughly 1500 sq. ft, you may see a reproduction of the Pacific Desert Strains format within the authentic 1855 route that was by no means constructed. It’s 1/one hundred and sixtieth scale and reveals off not simply the trains however the beautiful California panorama.
  • Landscapes and surroundings: There are various prepare route replicas you may see, together with the Cabrillo Southwestern and San Diego & Arizona Japanese, and the Tehachapi Move. These shows characteristic the trains but additionally go into beautiful element concerning the native landscapes. 
  • Particulars within the format and decorations: Every mannequin exactly replicates the route the prepare took and likewise consists of minute particulars on the trains themselves.
  • Historical past and schooling: Every show goes into the historical past of the rail line, retaining the historical past of the world and the trains alive.

High 5 Issues To Know Concerning the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum

After all, the museum is a no brainer if you happen to or your loved ones adores touring by prepare. Nevertheless, earlier than you head there, we’ve a few ideas for what to know concerning the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum earlier than you go.

Hours and Admission

San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum tickets are priced as follows:

  • Adults: $13.50
  • Seniors, Army, and College students (ages 12-17 and 18+ with a legitimate scholar ID): $9
  • Kids ages 3–12: $6
  • Kids ages 2 and youthful: Free

For those who’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 Move Decisions

Bundle admission to San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum (SDMRM) with different sights throughout San Diego or simply in Balboa Park.

Go San Diego Move

Each the All-Inclusive and Explorer sightseeing passes embody SDMRM and over 50 different San Diego sights.

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

Balboa Park Explorer Move

This move consists of 16 taking part Balboa Park Museums.

Select one in every of three move choices that embody a Parkwide Move good for seven consecutive days, an Annual Move (finest for residents), or a Restricted Move that features any 4 taking part venues good for in the future.

You’ll be able to go to the museum Tuesday by Sunday, 11 a.m-4 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Non permanent Displays

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

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

You’ll be able to test the exhibit record to see what the momentary exhibit might be throughout your go to.

Library and Reward Store

When you’ve explored the reveals, you may head to the library for extra info or the present store to purchase souvenirs.

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

There’s additionally a web-based library and e-book donation web page do you have to wish to contribute to the gathering. Because the museum tries to protect the artwork of mannequin prepare constructing, they’re working in the direction of a digital archive as nicely. 

Workshops, Summer season Camps & Academic Assets

In case you are a neighborhood, benefit from extra than simply the free Tuesday ticket worth. The San Diego Mannequin Rail Highway Museum additionally provides a faculty workshop for center colleges and excessive colleges. The workshop focuses on grade-appropriate studying and evaluation video games and the historical past of the railroad trade. 

You’ll be able to enroll your youngsters in summer season camps accessible by the museum as nicely. These camps meet on the museum and undergo the fundamentals of prepare constructing. They delve into the historical past of the trains within the space and discover the dioramas additional. 

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

  • Print the self-guided museum tour earlier than you go. Youngsters could take pleasure in filling within the STEAM-centric questions and the crossword puzzle.
  • Print the museum enjoyable info to note issues within the shows you could not know to search for and extra.

Different Issues To Do within the Balboa Park Space

Plan to spend an hour or so, relying in your degree of curiosity, on the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum. Nevertheless, you may plan a complete day at Balboa Park.

Seventeen museums make up Balboa Park, together with the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum. When you’ve checked out your fill of prepare automobiles, you may head to a different museum, seize lunch at one in every of our favourite Balboa Park eating places, browse the gardens, and even pop into the Zoo. Both approach, there’s loads to do close by.

Why We Love the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum

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

The San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum is certainly one of many Park’s hidden gems. After all, younger prepare fanatics and collectors will get probably the most enjoyment out of this museum. Nevertheless, go to even when your youngsters don’t rave about trains. When you have 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 data to any age. A toddler may merely take pleasure in watching the trains go by within the dioramas. An older child can do a little analysis and study concerning the historical past of a particular prepare or the interest of constructing mannequin railroads. Adults could recognize the intelligent approach of mixing STEAM matters, the historical past of California railroads, and enjoyable collectively in a novel museum expertise.

Once more, top-of-the-line components is the eye to element. Shifting mannequin trains whiz by superbly painted landscapes on traditionally correct prepare routes — in each indoor and out of doors settings.

Closing Ideas

Subsequent time you might be in Balboa Park, cease by the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum. The expertise is greater than well worth the worth of admission. 

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