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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

June 14, 2024

Channel your inner astronaut and get ready for an adventure beyond the stars—California's space museums are calling. The allure of exploring the vastness of space and celestial wonders awaits, turning your interstellar dreams into reality right here in the Golden State. Permission granted by Ground Control: your exploration mission to these cosmic showcases is about to begin. Countdown to an out-of-this-world experience starts now!

Aerospace Museum of California

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.

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

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.

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Blackbird Airpark

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. 

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

Chico Air Museum

Location: 165 Ryan Avenue, Chico

Immerse yourself in the world of aviation and space exploration at the Chico Air Museum, where history comes alive. This unique museum houses an array of classic uniforms, logs from significant flights, NASA memorabilia, and authentic space artifacts, all dedicated to educating and inspiring visitors.

Set within a historical WWII-era hangar, once an integral part of the Chico Army Airfield, the museum offers a rich collection of artifacts, captivating flight photography, and a wealth of knowledge in its aviation research library. Make sure to capture the moment with photos of the vintage propeller-driven aircraft displayed outside the museum.

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. 

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

Museum of Flying

Location: 3100 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica

Since its inception in 1974, the Museum of Flying has been reaching for the skies, capturing the essence of Southern California's rich aviation legacy. Often referred to as the "Spirit of Santa Monica," this aerospace museum pays tribute to the trailblazers of aviation and space exploration, including renowned test pilots and the pioneering astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.

Visitors can marvel at the impressive Douglas A-4 Skyhawk jet, a meticulous replica of the Wright Flyer, and the BD-5J Microjet featured in "Octopussy," the 13th installment in the James Bond series. Admirers of Amelia Earhart will find the museum's replica of the Lockheed Vega particularly fascinating, as it closely resembles the aircraft Earhart piloted across the Atlantic.

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.

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

Castle Air Museum 

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.

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.

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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