From sailing ships to submarines, the Maritime Museum is a must for anyone with an interest in nautical history. This collection of restored and replica ships affords a fascinating glimpse of San Diego during its heyday as a commercial seaport. The jewel of the collection, the Star of India, was built in 1863 and made 21 trips around the world in the late 1800s. Saved from the scrap yard and painstakingly restored, the windjammer is the oldest active iron sailing ship in the world. The newly constructed San Salvador is a detailed historic replica of the original ship first sailed into San Diego Bay by explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo back in 1542. And, the popular HMS Surprise is a replica of an 18th-century British Royal Navy frigate. The museum's headquarters are on the Berkeley, an 1898 steam-driven ferryboat, which served the Southern Pacific Railroad in San Francisco until 1958.
Numerous cruises of San Diego Bay are offered,
including a daily 45-minute narrated tour aboard a 1914 Pilot boat and 3-hour weekend sails aboard the topsail schooner the Californian, the state's official tall ship, and 75-minute tours aboard a historic Swift Boat, which highlights the city's military connection. Partnering with the museum, the renowned yacht America also offers sails on the bay, and whale-watching excursions are available in winter.