San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum: Highlights, Tickets & Ideas

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  • 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, gear, lifelike surroundings, and extra in miniature representations of actual California railroads.

A distinct railroad membership or native mannequin prepare skilled operates every of those everlasting reveals:

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

Plus, you’ll see a rotating exhibit which will function gadgets from the museum’s assortment or different elements 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 here are some highlights of the museum:

  • Working trains: The Toy Prepare Gallery has working toy trains on a 3 rail O gauge observe, rated the most effective ten layouts by Traditional Toy Trains journal in 2012.
  • Monumental dioramas: Roughly 1500 sq. toes, you may see a duplicate of the Pacific Desert Traces format within the unique 1855 route that was by no means constructed. It’s 1/one hundred and sixtieth scale and exhibits off not simply the trains however the gorgeous California panorama.
  • Landscapes and surroundings: There are lots of prepare route replicas you may see, together with the Cabrillo Southwestern and San Diego & Arizona Japanese, and the Tehachapi Move. These shows function the trains but in addition 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 In regards to the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum

In fact, the museum is a no brainer should you or your loved ones adores touring by prepare. Nonetheless, earlier than you head there, we’ve got a few suggestions 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, Navy, and College students (ages 12-17 and 18+ with a sound pupil ID): $9
  • Kids ages 3–12: $6
  • Kids ages 2 and youthful: Free

In case you’re a resident of San Diego County, you and your loved ones can go to free of charge 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 embrace SDMRM and over 50 different San Diego sights.

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

Balboa Park Explorer Move

This go consists of 16 collaborating Balboa Park Museums.

Select one in all three go choices that embrace a Parkwide Move good for seven consecutive days, an Annual Move (finest for residents), or a Restricted Move that features any 4 collaborating venues good for at some point.

You possibly can go to the museum Tuesday by way of Sunday, 11 a.m-4 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Short-term Displays

Though the museum has everlasting reveals, the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum will typically host a touring or short-term exhibit.

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

You possibly can examine the exhibit listing to see what the short-term exhibit will probably be throughout your go to.

Library and Present 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 overlaying railroading in America, with emphasis on the Southwest and Southern California.

There’s additionally an internet library and guide donation web page must you prefer 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 properly. 

Workshops, Summer time Camps & Instructional Assets

If you’re an area, make the most of extra than simply the free Tuesday ticket value. The San Diego Mannequin Rail Highway Museum additionally gives a college workshop for center faculties and excessive faculties. The workshop focuses on grade-appropriate studying and evaluation video games and the historical past of the railroad business. 

You possibly can enroll your youngsters in summer time camps out there by way of the museum as properly. 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 instructional sources, 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 information to note issues within the shows chances are you’ll 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 stage of curiosity, on the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum. Nonetheless, 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 all our favourite Balboa Park eating places, browse the gardens, and even pop into the Zoo. Both manner, there’s lots 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. In fact, younger prepare lovers and collectors will get essentially the most enjoyment out of this museum. Nonetheless, 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 purpose to not pop in.

The museum can also be particular as a result of you may adapt the knowledge to any age. A toddler would possibly merely take pleasure in watching the trains go by within the dioramas. An older child can perform some research and study concerning the historical past of a particular prepare or the passion of constructing mannequin railroads. Adults could respect the intelligent manner of mixing STEAM subjects, the historical past of California railroads, and enjoyable collectively in a novel museum expertise.

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

Closing Ideas

Subsequent time you’re in Balboa Park, cease by the San Diego Mannequin Railroad Museum. The expertise is greater than definitely worth the value of admission. 


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