Edit ModuleShow Tags

Inside the Icon: USS Midway

The former Navy ship has a decorated military history but continues to impress as a maritime museum, with massive preservation efforts, record-breaking attendance, celebrity visitors, and one of the best waterfront views in all of San Diego.


Photo by John Bahu

Visit the Icon

910 North Harbor Drive, Downtown

Making History

The USS Midway went into active service one week after WWII ended in 1945 and was the only U.S. Navy ship to serve for the entire duration of the Cold War. It was also the world’s first ship to carry nuclear weapons. It opened as a museum in June 2004.

Homeward Bound

After the Midway’s decommissioning at North Island and storage in Washington, it took 12 years for a group of more than 1,000 San Diegans to obtain the permits needed to bring the ship back to the city in 2004. Today, about 700 local volunteers donate 250,000 hours annually—the equivalent of more than 100 full-time employees.

Electric Slide

With only five months to convert the aircraft carrier into a museum, there was much to accomplish in a short amount of time. That meant operating without regular electricity during that first summer. An employee had to stop at a gas station on the way to work each morning to get fuel for the pier’s generator.

Fresh off the Boat

The Midway Museum hit its projected first-year attendance less than five months after opening, was profitable by the first month, and debt-free in 18 months. As a nonprofit, all proceeds go back to the museum.

Running a Tight Ship

The museum employs a specialist diver to inspect and maintain the 1,000-foot hull, making minor rust and corrosion repairs beneath the water line.

A Night at the Museum

The Midway hosts 300 private evening events per year. Revelers have enjoyed helicopter landings, fireworks, and skydivers landing on the flight deck. (Given the wind gusts and occasional uninvited seagulls, the Midway is not used for weddings.)

Roll Call

The museum hit 1.4 million visitors in 2015, their sixth consecutive annual attendance record. Four in 10 guests are from foreign countries, one in 14 are from China, and one in 10 are from Europe.

Channel Surfing

American Idol, The Bachelor, Wheel of Fortune, and many other TV shows have filmed on the Midway.

On Display

Guests can explore the ship’s galley, engine room, jail, flight simulators, and more—plus 29 aircraft and climbable cockpits spanning the 20th century, such as an F-14 Tomcat and H-46 Sea Knight.

Celebrity Factor

Hollywood stars, pro athletes, and foreign dignitaries have visited the museum, but almost all of them have requested to keep their visits under wraps. One notable exception?
Hollywood heavyweight and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, his now ex-wife Maria Shriver, and their kids, who went on private tours during his term.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Win Tickets to the 41st Annual SDCCU Holiday Bowl

This year’s Utah vs. Northwestern match-up marks the Holiday Bowl’s second straight paring of teams that are ranked nationally in the top 25

Family Politics Unfold Backward in Time in ‘The Year to Come’

La Jolla Playhouse’s high-concept world premiere is strengthened by a superb ensemble cast—and nearly derailed by its ending

San Diego Ballet Company Stages 'The Nutcracker'

See the 29th annual performance at Copley Symphony Hall December 29-30
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Win a Trip for Two to Yellowstone Country Montana
    Win a trip for two to Bozeman, Montana including roundtrip airfare and lodging
  2. Sushi’s Next Gen Is Here at Himitsu
    In La Jolla, a Sushi Ota protégé sticks to an age-old tradition of quality
  3. 10 Hot Plates: San Diego's Top Food News in October
    The latest restaurant rumors, openings, and coming-soons
  4. San Diego Events Calendar: October 2018
    How to be busy and important this month in San Diego
  5. San Diego's Top Doctors 2018
    Our annual list of 717 physicians in 88 specialties, plus five physicians open up about the emotional burdens of their fields
  6. Incoming: The Hold Fast
    One of the country’s top sustainable sushi chefs is opening a handroll bar serving 100-percent local seafood
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Win Tickets to the 41st Annual SDCCU Holiday Bowl

This year’s Utah vs. Northwestern match-up marks the Holiday Bowl’s second straight paring of teams that are ranked nationally in the top 25

Winter is Waiting in Montana’s Yellowstone Country

Win a trip for two that includes roundtrip airfare from Long Beach and a stay at the Element by Westin in Bozeman, Montana
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags