The year of 1911 was historic for the field of aviation. In an even that would shape the aviation as we know it, the Vin Fiz Flyer—piloted by Calbraith Perry Rodger—completed the first transcontinental crossing of the United States in an airplane. The flight required 82 hours of total time in the air—although the entire trip, including ground time, was a remarkable 84 days. Today, commercial jetliners make the trip in a little over five hours, and with the ease of transport that aviation has provided, it’s almost too easy to forget the steps that brought us up to this point. At the San Diego Air & Space Museum, however, every visitor, both young and old, can see how the craft of aviation has changed since its early years. Gaze on an intricate reproduction of the original Vin Fiz Flyer, or examine a replica of Charles Lindbergh’s famous Spirit of St. Louis. Military enthusiasts will love the collection of Hellcats and early fighter planes—including an exhibit on early aircraft that flew in World War I. There are educational placards that date all the way back to 18th-century hot air balloons, and also look forward to the next frontier of exploring the corners of space. For kids, a large, 3D movie theater offers thrilling movies from the air, and there’s even the chance to take the joystick on the simulator of an F15.
The San Diego Air and Space Museum is open from 10am-4:30pm, seven days a week. Admission is $18 for adults and $9 for children. Many of the exhibits charge extra fees on top of the regular admission, and while parking is free, it’s best to arrive early in the day for the chances of finding a spot.