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The California Space Museums to Visit Next

The California Space Museums to Visit Next

This is Ground Control to Major Tom, pack your freeze-dried ice cream and put your helmet on—we’re journeying to California’s space museums.


5 min read

May 04, 2021

This is Ground Control to Major Tom, pack your freeze-dried ice cream and put your helmet on—we’re journeying to California’s space museums. There’s something about exploring celestial bodies in space, an intergalactic wish-come-true in the Golden State. You’re in luck, Ground Control has cleared you for landing at the California space museums. One, two, three…takeoff!

Incredible Air and Space Museums throughout California

Aerospace Museum of California

A Sacramento Treasure, the Aerospace Museum of California is the dream destination of anyone wit a love for all things aviation.

Location: 3200 Freedom Park Drive, McClellan Park

Celebrate National Space Day at the Aerospace Museum of California. Formerly known as McClellan Aviation Museum, this place is Sacramento’s best-kept secret. With over forty artifacts and an outstanding aerospace section, the museum never ceases to display the wonders of flight.

Admire the many restored aircraft and NASA-supported exhibits. The flight simulator and state-of-the-art Aerospace Learning Center will turn your eyes towards the sky. Discover a newfound love for aviation thanks to the hands-on exhibits—not too bad for a day trip to Sacramento.

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Wings of History Air Museum

Location: 12777 Murphy Avenue, San Martin

If you’re an aviation enthusiast, head down to the Wings of History Air Museum. Teaching the public about air and space for 25 years, this non-profit has historic aircraft, engines, and a large collection of models on display.

Located 15 minutes from Cal Expo, this museum is the STEM playground of your dreams. Unleash your inner geek at building block competitions and scavenger hunts while learning about the era of aviation from a fully restored speed-wing biplane.

Blackbird Airpark

Blackbird Airpark is home to at least a dozen legendary aircrafts you need to see to believe.

Location: 2503 East Avenue P, Palmdale

Blackbird Airpark is dedicated to preserving, displaying, and educating the public to over 75 years of flight research. Home to nearly 80 historic aircraft, including the legendary Lockheed SR-71A and the once classified D-21 drone, this L.A. museum is too good to miss.

Artifacts in this air and space museum include missiles, hardware, technical drawings, aircraft propulsion systems, and more. But, that’s not all. Discover exhibits on ancient lake beds, early homesteading, and breaking the sound barrier and flight test from World War II to the present. 

Golden State Space Museums 

Chico Air Museum

Location: 165 Ryan Avenue, Chico

Classic uniforms, flight logs from historic expeditions, NASA, and space artifacts—all these are found under one roof at Chico Air Museum. With a primary aim to educate and inspire, this air and space museum should make it onto your itinerary.

Located inside a WWII-era hangar, the museum was once part of the Chico Army Airfield. Explore a number of interesting artifacts, examine flight photography, and absorb all the information at the aviation research library. Don’t forget to take pictures of the propeller-driven aircraft outside the museum. 

San Diego Air and Space Museum

Superheroes do exist, and some of them once flew in the aircrafts displayed at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Location: 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego

The history of aviation is one remarkable story, and it all unfolds at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Housing a collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft from all over the world, this inspiring San Diego museum has all your aircraft preferences on display. 

Begin your journey beneath a model of the Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon—the first man-made vehicle to break the bonds of gravity. Marvel at the entertaining yet dangerous antics of the 1920s barnstormers in the Golden Age of Flight Gallery. 

Museum of Flying

Location: 3100 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica

Established in 1974, the Museum of Flying dreams big and soars high. Nicknamed the “Spirit of Santa Monica,” the aerospace museum is an ode to SoCal’s history of aviation. The Museum of Flying honors aviation and aerospace leaders, well-known test pilots, as well as the original Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts. 

Feast your eyes on the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk jet, a replica of the Wright Flyer, and the BD-5J Microjet from Octopussy—the 13th James Bond film. For all Amelia Earhart fans out there, the museum’s replica of the Lockheed Vega is almost identical to the one she used during her transatlantic flight.

 Aerospace Museums in California 

Located in Exposition Park, the California Science Center houses several fascinating aircraft and robotic space exhibits worth checking out.

California Science Center

Location: 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles

Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, this air and space museum is a Golden State must-see. As soon as you step into the California Science Center, you’ll see kids sprinting to dozens of interactive exhibits. After cruising the four major exhibit halls, we can totally see why.

The World of Life exhibit area uncovers the secrets of the living world, from single-celled bacteria to the 100-trillion-celled human being. In the Creative World exhibit, visitors examine the many ways people use technology in their everyday life. The Ecosystems exhibit hall features more than 200 species of live plants and animals. And, last but not least, the Air and Space exhibit shows how astronauts Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon made it to outer space in the Gemini 11 capsule.

Castle Air Museum 

Are you a fan of vintage aircrafts? You'll find a beautiful collection at Atwater's Castle Air Museum, and we promise it's all very informative.

Location: 5050 Santa Fe Drive, Atwater 

Home to over 70 restored vintage aircraft, Castle Air Museum proves that there’s more to life than being a passenger. Visitors get the opportunity to peek into the past and admire the art of aviation.

Marvel at the United States’ first operational jet fighter, the amazing General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, an entire lineage of Bomber Aircraft from WWII. Walk among aircraft that has been formerly neglected, used for weapon testing, and almost burnt. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on seeing the RASCAL—the United States Air Force's first nuclear-armed standoff missile.

Hiller Aviation Museum

Location: 601 Skyway Road, San Carlos

Experience the magic of flight at the  Hiller Aviation Museum, where innovation reigns and adventure begins. The stunning California space museum discloses the history of aviation and provides a glimpse into the future of air transportation. Not only will you see vintage aircraft exhibits, but you’ll also get to view futuristic prototypes on display.

Meander the museum halls that are filled with antique engines, prototypes, photographs, and models. While the engines represent the heart of the flight, it is the pilots that are celebrated most at this museum. Learn about the fascinating figures that made Northern California aviation what it is today at one of the most unique Bay Area destinations.

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