San Diego Model Railroad Museum
1649 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Spanning over 27,000 square feet of trains, trestles, and tracks we are in the heart of natural beauty framed by the majestic backdrop of Balboa Park. The San Diego Model Railroad Museum (SDMRM) is a space where imagination is beautifully engineered. SDMRM features both indoor and outdoor exhibits and programming for all ages.
Our mission is to research, collect, preserve and present the heritage of American railroading using educational programs, displays, toy trains, and scale models of California railroads. At every twist, turn, and tunnel we spark curiosity with developing educational programming that includes education milestones like critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. Our exhibits transform little engineers to modelers who tinker with engines and nail down track to build and transform something from nothing.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
1649 El Prado
San Diego, CA, 92101
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is located in Balboa Park, inside the Casa de Balboa Building on the lower level. We share a parking lot with the Fleet Science Center. Our major cross street is Park Blvd and Space Theater Way.
- Adult: $13.50
- Senior (ages 65+): $9.00
- Military (Active-Duty, Veterans, Spouses of uniform service, with military I.D.): $9.00
- Student (ages 12-17, 18+ with current student I.D.): $9.00
- Child (ages 4-11): $6.00
- Toddler (3 and under): FREE with legal adult supervision & paid admission
THE CABRILLO SOUTHWESTERN AND THE SAN DIEGO & ARIZONA EASTERN
by the San Diego Model Railroad Association
The San Diego Model Railroad Association operates the Cabrillo Southwestern O Scale layout and the San Diego and Arizona Eastern HO layout. O scale is 1/48 actual size, or one modeled inch to forty eight real life inches. HO Scale is 1/87 actual size, or one modeled inch to eighty seven actual inches.
The Cabrillo Southwest O Scale layout features a double track main line, a narrow gauge branch line and a mountain district! The layout is 120 feet long and covers 13 scale miles in mainline track. It represents California circa 1955.
The San Diego and Arizona Eastern HO Layout, models San Diego to El Centro in the 1950’s. The layout is 142 feet long and covers 15 scale miles in mainline track. You can follow the line from the Mexican border all the way down to El Centro, where club members expertly recreated a drive in Movie Theater.
THE TEHACHAPI PASS
by the La Mesa Model Railroad Club
The La Mesa Model Railroad Club operates the Southern Pacific-Santa Fe Tehachapi Pass Layout. This exhibit is a highly accurate replica of Southern California’s busiest single track mountain railroad and is HO scale.
The Tehachapi Pass runs through the Tehachapi Range of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is famous for the Tehachapi Loop, where because of the steep mountain grade the railroad was designed in a spiral loop. You can see this replicated on the mezzanine level of the Tehachapi layout.
Everything on this layout operates to scale. Including the types of trains run on the track, the times of operation and the speed.
PACIFIC DESERT LINES
by the San Diego Society of N Scale
The San Diego Society of N Scale maintains the Pacific Desert Lines layout. In approximately 1500 square feet, the layout models the original 1855 route that was surveyed and planned for the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railroad but was never built. N Scale is 1/160 actual size, or one modeled inch to one hundred and sixty actual inches.
The layout models a number of San Diego landmarks including the Carlsbad Flower Fields, Carrizo Gorge, and the Downtown. Throughout the layout there are quirky hidden surprises. See if you can spot the pool shark!
THE TOY TRAIN GALLERY
by the San Diego 3-Railer Club
The San Diego 3-Railer’s Club operates the Toy Train Layout in the Toy Train Gallery. This fantasy layout features O Scale “Lionel Type” toy trains running on 3 rail O gauge track. One of the highlights of the gallery is the “Choo-Choo cam” fitted onto a running train which provides visitors with a first person virtual view of the layout.
The exhibit was rated one of the top ten layouts by Classic Toy Trains magazine in 2012.
THE CENTENNIAL RAILWAY GARDEN
This exhibit was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Balboa Park in 2015. The G scale garden railroad is modeled after Balboa Park as it existed in 1915. G scale is about 1/32 to actual prototypical scale.
The exhibit is solar powered and the plants are drought tolerant, making this display one of the only green technology exhibits in Balboa Park. The trolley cars that run on the layout are modeled after the Class 1 Street Car which was created specifically for the 1915 Exposition.
The buildings were made using laser cutting and 3-D printing. The Balboa Park Online Collaborative created the interactive iPad and smart device elements which allow you to control lighting and sound on the buildings.