Reuben H. Fleet Science Center: Inspiring Inquiring Minds

The Fleet Science Center is located just a couple blocks south of the San Diego Zoo, squarely in the midst of all bustling Balboa Park has to offer visitors. This outstanding facility has several permanent exhibitions covering fascinating topics as diverse as space travel, water purification, power generation, and more. Most exhibits here are hands-on and interactive, and some even feature exciting virtual reality technology. A massive IMAX theater rounds out the fun at this classic San Diego attraction.

Save on your visit to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center!
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is included on the Go San Diego Pass. Save an additional 5% on the Go City Pass with Coupon Code: GO5CMANTIS The discount stacks on top the current sale prices! Promo expires on May 31st.

Fleet Science Center History 

The Fleet Science Center story begins in 1957, when a team of prominent local citizens established an organization they called the San Diego Space and Science Foundation. Their goal was to create San Diego’s very own museum of science and industry—an attraction whose centerpiece they hoped would be a planetarium. The next decade of their efforts would be devoted to planning and fundraising, with construction not actually beginning on the project until the start of the 1970s.

In 1973, doors opened at the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater and Science Center, so named for the founder of the United States Air Mail Service and a San Diego-based aviation engineer whose family was a strong early supporter of the center. The Fleet Science Center has been expanded and renovated several times in the half-century since it first launched operations, but it remains one of Balboa Park’s biggest draws.

What’s at the Fleet Science Center

There are numerous permanent exhibits to explore at Fleet Science Center. Kid City is an interactive play space that has a ball wall, fire truck, and grocery store. It’s perfect for kids under the age of five years old. The Pulseworks VR Transporter is an adventure simulator that lets you feel just like you’re floating in space or going for a walk on the moon. The San Diego’s Water exhibit teaches children all about how water is processed from its natural source all the way to our faucets.

So Watt! is another terrific interactive exhibit that teaches participants how electricity is produced and energy conserved, as well how solar panels work. Fleet Science Center’s Space Gallery is a can’t-miss exhibit, too. There you can learn about the history of space exploration, the Hubble telescope, and how NASA’s scientists plan to continue charting the universe in the years to come. 

No trip to the Fleet Science Center is complete without catching a movie or documentary in its beloved Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. This remarkable IMAX theater shows a mixture of nature films, blockbuster movies, and educational programs on its incredible 76-foot screen.

Fleet Science Center also has an in-house food option, in case you need a quick bite to eat during your visit. Called Craveology, it features a variety of snacks and treats that’ll satisfy your hunger. And when you’re done dining, pop over to the North Star Science Store and pick up a souvenir of your outing. The North Star Science Store sells an assortment of books, toys, apparel, and gifts that are perfect for the science-lover in your life.

Tips for Visiting the Fleet Science Center

  • If you are seeing other sights while in San Diego you can save some money if by getting a Go San Diego Pass. The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is included as are many other great San Diego Attractions.
  • In addition to its many permanent exhibitions, Fleet Science Center also frequently hosts visiting exhibitions from all over the world. Be certain to check out the Fleet Science Center website in advance of your trip to see what might be in town and on display when you’re scheduled to visit.
  • Showtimes vary according to which movie or documentary you want to watch while at Fleet Science Center, and there are often as many as a half-dozen films to choose from here. Thus, it’s a good idea to plan your visit around which show you most want to see.
  • While most visitors to Fleet Science Center purchase an admission ticket that grants them entry to the attraction and includes one IMAX movie, it is possible to buy IMAX tickets separately. If you’re on a tight schedule, but still want to see a marvelous nature documentary, this could be an option for you.