While a typical date might include dinner and drinks, why not opt for a more creative and playful day at one of the engaging museums San Diego has to offer? February is the perfect month to explore museums since it is Museum Month. All month long, over 40 museums offer half-off admission with a Macy’s Museum Month pass. Pick up your Museum Month pass at any San Diego county Macy’s store and let your adventure begin! Enjoy this list I compiled featuring 10 museums that have a romantic edge, location or host a Valentine’s Day event.
BALBOA PARK MUSEUMS
Japanese Friendship Garden
Japanese Friendship Garden - A Peaceful Garden Walk
Tucked away next to the Organ Pavilion you will find this charming romantic garden that transports you to another world. The meandering path allows visitors to experience koi ponds, bonsai trees, cherry trees, a camellia and azalea garden, a tea and herb garden and so much more. There are always interesting rotating exhibitions featuring traditional and contemporary Japanese art. Another reason to visit the Garden is to explore their recently completed expansion into the adjacent canyon. The Garden is the perfect place to relax, reflect and contemplate life.
Sculpture Garden at San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Museum of Art - Romantic Picnic in the Sculpture Garden
Chalked full of romantic works of art from the Italian Renaissance to Impressionism and Contemporary art, this museum always has engaging exhibitions on view. The museum also has a sculpture garden where you can have an intimate picnic surrounded by masterworks. On February 14 they have a special Valentine’s Day dinner and tour. And, starting February 11th you can also experience their free outdoor exhibition, Art of the Open Air, a collection of sculptures in the Plaza de Panama in front of the museum.
Flight simulators at the San Diego Air and Space Museum
San Diego Air and Space - Ride the Cockpit Together
For the adventurous couple interested in learning something new and being amazed at a massive aircraft and spacecraft collection, this is the place for you. I recently visited this museum with my husband and 1 year old daughter and she could not stop saying “whoa” when we came across a new plane mounted on the ceiling. While the museum is packed with objects it does offer many intimate opportunities to get cozy inside an aircraft together. Visitors can also choose to ride a two-seat flight simulator that provides experiential fun.
San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) - Giant-Screen Theater Films Included with Admission
Travel back 75-million years together by visiting dinosaurs and mastodons in the Fossil Mysteries exhibition at this three-story museum. One of the largest museums in San Diego, there is a lot to explore at theNAT including some of their current exhibitions; Coast to Cactus in Southern California and Birds as Art. I also highly recommend taking the time to enjoy one of the films in their giant-screen theater that is free with your paid admission. Films currently on view are Tiny Giants 3D, Whales 3D, and Ocean Oasis.
ANIMAL AND NATURE LOVER MUSEUMS
San Diego Botanic Garden - Hunt For Sculptures and Waterfalls and Picnic Outdoors
Every time I visit the Botanic Garden I discover something new and exciting. During my last visit I found a beautiful waterfall surrounded by bamboo trees hidden away from the main path. There are so many romantic spots to relax and enjoy nature in this magical garden. Spotted throughout the garden, visitors will find a wonderful collection of sculptures by local artists. I am especially fond of the James Hubbell water fountain and stream located near the Bamboo Pond. Bring a picnic and a hat and plan a full day of adventure.
Living Coast Discovery Center
Living Coast Discovery Center - Close Encounters with Wildlife
Located on the San Diego Bay about seven miles south of downtown, the Living Coast Discovery Center is a unique nonprofit zoo and aquarium. Visitors will enjoy the remote setting on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and a diverse collection of animals and interactive exhibits. On February 14th from 11am-2pm you can enjoy Tweets & Treats, a Valentine’s Day-themed event with animal encounters and extra wildlife activities. Make your excursion even more memorable by signing up for a VIP animal encounter where you can feed the sharks and rays or meet an owl close-up.
MUSEUMS CLOSE TO THE WATER
Oceanside Museum of Art - Take the Coaster and Explore Four New Exhibitions
With five exhibition galleries and an eclectic museum store Oceanside Museum of Art is a hidden gem in North County San Diego. When I worked at this museum for over six years I would occasionally take the coaster up from the Old Town station. The ride along the coast is breathtaking and such a great way to explore your city. There are some exciting exhibitions opening at the museum February 6th including; Robin Bright and Tom Driscol, Bill Rastetter: Street Art Reinterpreted, Laddie John Dill: Light Sentences and Light Traps, and Deanne Sabeck: Luminous.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps - Connect with Colorful Sealife in an Intimate Setting
In the dark exhibit halls of the Birch Aquarium you will discover an amazing collection of jellyfish, seahorses, leopard sharks, eels and so much more. I love the large Kelp Forest viewing area where you can sit and be mesmerized by the beauty of underwater life rocking you back and forth. To virtually experience the Kelp Forest check out the live Kelp Cam. The museum also has outside living tide pools where you can interact with starfish and other creatures. After the museum cruise down to La Jolla Shores for a stroll on the beach or eat at one of the wonderful local restaurants like Piatti or Barbarella.
Robert Irwin Windows at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego – Amazing Ocean Views at the La Jolla Museum Location
Located in La Jolla Village, this museum is situated right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. After perusing their stunning galleries you can stroll along the beach and have a delicious lunch or dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants in La Jolla. One of my favorite spots is the happy hour at Roppongi. Visitors will enjoy the two new exhibitions that recently opened; Alvaro Blancarte: Marking the Present and Ed Ruscha Then & Now: Paintings from the 1960s and 2000s. If you are feeling really adventurous I highly recommend visiting some of the Murals of La Jolla spotted throughout the town.
Star of India, Maritime Museum of San Diego
Maritime Museum of San Diego - Set Sail Together Aboard One of These Floating Museums
Featuring an impressive collection of historic vessels including sailing ships, submarines and steam-powered boats, the Maritime Museum is a swashbuckling place to spend the afternoon or evening. The museum is open from 9am to 8pm daily. I highly recommend wearing flat shoes if you plan to board all the vessels; the submarine is a bit tricky to navigate with high heels. After your museum tour, plan to stroll the waterfront and maybe check out the Waterfront Park or have a meal at Anthony’s.