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Climb the California Tower at the Museum of Man

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When I learned that the California Tower at the Museum of Man was opening to the public for the first time since 1935, I could not wait to bring our children to be a part of history. Families get to go up a staircase that has been hidden from the public to get a glimpse of history and spectacular San Diego views.

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When we first arrived to climb the tower all of the tickets had been sold out, and we were lucky to get tickets for the last tour the following day. It is important when planning a visit to purchase your tour tickets in advance (there are limited amounts of tickets available each day).

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Since I am deathly afraid of heights, I spent time exploring the Museum of Man while my husband took the kids on the tour. The tour lasted about 40 minutes with them having 15 minutes on the viewing deck (your family will need to arrive 15 minutes early). Guests are only allowed to go as high as the first viewing deck of the tower because the second and third decks have not been safety cleared yet. Parent tip: Children need to have closed toed flat soled shoes in order to go on the tour.

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The guide educated my children on the history of the tour giving them a full immersive learning experience. Once they were at the viewing deck, they were able to enjoy beautiful views of San Diego. When the kids made their way to the bottom of the tower, they could not stop talking about the tour for days. My older son went online to learn more about the tower and printed out pictures to hang on his bedroom wall.

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I highly encourage parents to share a piece of history with their kids by taking them to climb the California Tower and Museum of Man. I guarantee that you’ll leave with lifelong memories with your children.

How old must children be to visit?
(Information provided by the Museum of Man)

Children must be at least 6 years of age and be able to climb the California Tower on their own. Children are not permitted to be carried in the California Tower, not in an adult’s arms, by piggyback, car seat, stroller, baby carrier, nor by similar methods. Children ages 6 to 13 must be accompanied by an adult, who is responsible for the children’s safety. Parents will need to sign a safety waiver before climbing the tower.

1350 El Prado
San Diego, California, 92101

Ticket Pricing:


History of the tower (provided by the Museum of Man)
All of the California Buildings, as the structures housing the Museum of Man are called, were completed in 1914, and officially opened in 1915 as part of the Panama-California Exposition. They were designed by Bertram Goodhue, who was inspired by the churches of Mexico and Spain. Even though the California Buildings resemble a church, they have never been a church and have been exhibition halls from the start — except when they were used as a Naval hospital during World War II. The Tower was closed to the public shortly after the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. A more complete history is here.

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