San Diego Model Railroad Museum
in Balboa Park




railroad museum

The San Diego model Railroad Museum is one of the largest indoor model railroad museums in the world. Since its inception in 1982, this non-profit organization has had over 3 million visitors. It is the only accredited railroad themed museum in the USA. So don't be shy, come in and enjoy and afternoon at the sdmrm!


This museum is relatively small when compared to other museums, but the collection of miniature trains and railroads is quite impressive. There are over 30 displays some of which are bigger than an average living room. It's a great place for railroading newbies and aficionados.

railroad museum


All the displays are very impressive: large in size and filled with details and realistic landscape. It is hard to describe each one, but one thing is for certain: Model railroading is a combination of history, engineering, circuitry, carpentry, artistry, creativity, and imagination. Shown is a portion of the Tehachapi Pass exhibit.

railroad museum
railroad museum
Glass windows protect most of the railroads, trains, and detailed landscaping. Elevated platforms give you a better view of the displays. This is especially useful for kids who are short and need the platforms to get some height.

railroad museum
railroad museum


The walls are covered with vintage photos and information plaques regarding this honored mode of transportation.

Embedded along the walls are TV screens: press the button and see a video clip about trains.

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is made possible by 300+ volunteers and hobbyist who create and maintain the wonderful models. They love their work and it shows! Go here to see a list of all the model railroad displays.

railroad museum
railroad museum


For young children, the Thomas & Friends Mini Gallery is a nice place to play and pretend.

Tucked away upstairs is the Library. Though small, this library is specialized and well maintained. With it's own cataloging system, volunteer librarians sort, organized, and file hundreds of slides, photos, videos, magazines, timetables, schedules, brochures, and books. You cannot borrow books from this library, but you are welcome to visit and browse through the collection. It's an incredible resource.


railroad museum
The Toy Train Gallery is noteworthy: it has a permanent 42' by 44' display with four separate train lines. It's a treat for adults and kids alike plus it's interactive too: press the button to get the trains to move.

railroad museum
The Pacific Dessert Lines exhibit has a nice bridge and lake scene.

railroad museum
Upon exiting, be sure to stop by the gift shop which carries all sorts of railroading and train merchandise: posters, toys, books, jewelry, t-shirts, videos, and more.

Expect to spend one hour in this museum. Great for children and grandparents! See map of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum here

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
1649 el Prado, Balboa Park
San Diego, CA
1-619-696-0199
map location #14




Hours of Operation

Tuesday to Friday: 11am - 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11am - 5pm

Adults: $8
Seniors: $6
Children 14 and under free
Yearly membership is $35 for a family or $25 for individual. Become a Lifetime Member for $500 and have your name laser etched onto a granite rail "tie" along the walkway.



railroad museum
The Pacific Beach club room is available for birthday parties and meetings. Call 619-696-0199 for reservations.