Fleet Science Center

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1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
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Open:
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Mon - Thurs)
10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Fri - Sun)
Discover everything you need to know about the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the fun ways the museum gets the whole family excited to learn.
Fleet Science Center
Education Meets Fun
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Education Meets Fun at the Fleet Science Center

Enter a world of invention and discovery! At Balboa Park’s Fleet Science Center and Planetarium in San Diego, California, you’ll learn about hundreds of different scientific advancements that are sure to engage and surprise you.

The Fleet Science Center and attached dome theater is a family-friendly museum that has been running since 1973. It was the first museum to include both interactive exhibits and an IMAX theater for educational films, which set the precedent that many other museums follow to this day.

Over the years, the science museum has expanded to include many more exhibits than what they opened with. New exhibits are being added every year, in addition to rotating exhibits that are added every few weeks or months. With so many attractions and so much variety, there is always something new to do on each visit!

Through its engaging exhibits and movies, the museum works toward its mission of getting everyone, young and old, interested in science.

Learn all about the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center so you can make the most of your trip through over 100 different exhibits. With so much to do, you’ll want to know exactly where you should start and what exhibits you want to make sure to see!

The Fleet Science Center is part of the Go San Diego Pass, which can help you save while visiting attractions in San Diego and the southern California area. Consider buying a pass before you go and take advantage of our additional exclusive discount!

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What You’ll See During Your Visit

The Fleet Science Center in beautiful Balboa Park aims to bring science out of the lab, making it more accessible to the public. To this end, every part of the museum is specifically geared towards exploring and explaining different parts of scientific research and breakthroughs.

When you enter the museum, you’ll immediately become immersed in the world of science. There are exhibits that explore just about every aspect of scientific discovery, pulling from many different scientific fields. You can learn about everything from geometry, to the human body, to the farthest reaches of space.

One of the most unique aspects of the science center is just how interactive it is. There is always something to do at each exhibit, so families of all ages never get bored. The incorporation of play into learning makes science fun!

Don’t forget to check out the IMAX theater and planetarium during your visit! These installations offer special shows in the dome theater that are meant to excite and educate. Here, you can explore distant planets, the depths of the seas, or discoveries made in far-away countries, without ever leaving San Diego.

For exhibit details and other Fleet Science Center information, here’s our breakdown of the numerous attractions located in the museum.

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What is a Go San Diego Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass allows visitors to experience more attractions while simultaneously saving money.

With the pass, you can visit San Diego’s top attractions like the San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND, all while saving up to 55% off on admissions. Plus, the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

Events, Attractions, and Exhibits

Fleet Science Center events and attractions include both permanent exhibits and a rotating event. Each exhibit has to do with an interesting branch of science, as well as the discoveries and breakthroughs that scientists have made that influence the way we learn about these topics today.

On top of the exhibits in the museum, the planetarium and IMAX theater are crucial parts of the Fleet Science Center experience as well. They run educational shows throughout the day.

With so many different science exhibits, you might be unsure what you should prioritize. Here’s a guide that will help you plan your path through the museum.

Space Gallery

The Fleet Science Center includes many different exhibits that bring the magic of outer space right down to Earth. In the Space Gallery, you’ll take a look at the different inventions and advancements in science that make space exploration possible, as well as the skills astronauts and researchers need to explore the stars.

Inside the Space Gallery is the Pulseworks VR Transporter, which provides a fun virtual reality experience where you can journey to the moon and the cosmos without ever leaving the ground. It also contains the Sun, Earth, Universe exhibit, which is full of information about NASA’s scientific explorations of the universe and the questions about space these explorations attempt to answer.

Illusions

Illusions are tricks of the mind meant to make us see something that isn’t really there. With illusions, a completely still image might appear to be moving, and you can start seeing the same image as two completely different things.

The Fleet Science Center’s Illusions exhibit explores these mind-bending illusions and explains what makes them work. The exhibit contains dozens of different illusions that will excite and surprise you.

Renewable Energy Education

The museum includes plenty of information on various renewable, planet-friendly energy resources. These exhibits show the ways that everyday parts of our homes like water and electricity get to us and what it takes to provide these resources.

In the It’s Electric exhibit, visitors learn about different scientific advancements involving electricity. Interactive stations include information about the science behind batteries, electric charges, and magnetic fields. The centerpiece of the exhibit, the Tesla Coil, is the first system for wirelessly transmitting electricity ever invented.

For a look at how we use electricity as a power source, stop by the So Watt! exhibit. Here, you’ll take a look at energy production, alternative energy sources like solar panels, and ways to get involved in conservation. You can learn more about the San Diego power grid and how it functions in the Power Play exhibit.

Water is another resource in our homes, as well as a potential source of renewable energy. We take the water running from our sink for granted, but so much goes into the process that we don’t see. In the San Diego’s Water exhibit, you’ll discover what it takes to get water to all the homes of San Diego, as well as information about water conservation and preservation.

IMAX Dome Theater

IMAX movie screenings are located in the dome theater. In the dome, visitors can watch screenings of scientific movies that delight and intrigue, encouraging a strong interest in science at any age.

The dome theater has more than enough space for visitors. It includes hundreds of seats, each newly renovated to ensure you have a comfortable experience. Don’t worry about getting a bad seat; with the 76-foot, eight story tall screen and the 16,000 watt digital surround sound, there isn’t a bad seat in the house!

The shows and any IMAX film featured in the IMAX dome theater will be educational and family-friendly. They explore various scientific topics like conservation, invention, and discovery. To learn which movies are currently playing and what showtimes are available, visit the official site.

Planetarium

The Fleet Science Center also includes a large planetarium, where you can enjoy an educational stargazing trip. The planetarium has a wide dome ceiling upon which images of constellations and distant planets are projected.

The planetarium features a number of rotating live shows. One of the most popular is the monthly show The Sky Tonight, which is a tour through the solar system guided and narrated by a real professional astronomer. Other shows include information on various aspects of the solar system like stars, comets, asteroids, and different galaxies.

Kid-Friendly Events and Exhibits

The entire museum is family-friendly and nearly every exhibit has an interactive aspect that is sure to delight kids of all ages. However, younger visitors, those five years old and younger, can also enjoy the child-centric Kid City installment.

Kid City

Kid City is a miniature city and children’s museum built just for children to explore and learn. It features many different attractions that encourage both education and play.

Little Learner’s Lab

The Little Learner’s Lab teaches kids science, math, and reading skills through a combination of hands-on displays and computer programs. These educational and age-appropriate computer games get children interested in learning even when they only think they’re playing.

Local Tips
Don't Miss an IMAX Show
The Fleet is home to the world’s first IMAX Dome Theater, presenting the biggest films on the planet. In addition to planetarium shows, the museum's founders wanted to use a large-format film projection system to show movies on the dome's interior.

The Ball Wall

The Ball Wall is another exciting feature of Kid City. It features tracks and chutes that show kids the basics of concepts like momentum and gravity. Children can also use an air blower to create music or spin colorful pinwheels.

The Fire Station

One especially popular part of Kid City is the Fire Station, complete with a replica fire truck. Kids can climb inside the fire truck to explore, and even mimic the act of driving a real fire truck.

The Factory and Grocery Store

The Factory and Grocery Store sections of Kid City teach kids about what it’s like to work in each job through play. Kids can climb through the four different floors of the factory, learning about different production processes at each stage. In the grocery store, kids will practice their math skills and learn about good nutrition all while sorting, weighing, and ringing up plastic fruit and vegetables.

Infant Area

Kid City also offers an Infant Area, great for adults with the smallest kids, that is specially designed to be safe for children just learning to crawl.

Youth Programs

The Fleet Science Center provides various youth programs as well. The Young Scientists program makes basic scientific concepts like geology, biology, and engineering accessible to kids.

Science Clubs and Camps

They also offer science clubs where kids can get hands-on experience with simple and safe experiments. Additionally, the Fleet museum runs a half-day camp in the summer and full-day camps in the spring, winter, and fall.

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Important Tips for Your Visit

When you visit the Fleet Science Center, you want your trip to be focused on all the fun you’ll be having. You don’t want to worry about where to park or what to eat. Here are some tips that will make planning for the trip a stress-free experience!

Admission Details

Purchasing a ticket to the museum allows you to leave and re-enter the museum for the rest of the day. This means you are free to take a break, run out to the car, or grab something to eat without having to pay for admission again.

The museum offers free admission for residents of San Diego every Tuesday, known as Free Museum Day. If you’re a local who has never been before, this is a great way to experience the museum for the first time.

Parking

There is free parking available for the museum on the south side of the building. Additional lots are available throughout Balboa Park with a brief walking distance.

Where to Eat

The Fleet Science Center contains its own café, Craveology. This café offers kid-friendly fare such as sandwiches, salads, pizza, and healthy snacks. Once you’re done eating, you can get right back to exploring the museum.

Gift Shop

The museum gift shop is known as the North Star Science Store. It offers a wide variety of educational books, IMAX DVDs, toys, and games, as well as some commemorative souvenirs.

Nearby Attractions

Balboa Park is a hub of fun family attractions. Once you’ve explored the museum, consider paying a visit to the nearby San Diego Zoo, or check out other nearby museums like the San Diego Museum of Art or the Air and Space Museum. If you’re planning on visiting multiple attractions, don’t forget to purchase a Go San Diego Pass for the best deals!

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