California Tower
The California Tower viewed from The Old Globe’s Copley Plaza. Photo by Brett Shoaf via the Balboa Park Online Collaborative

The iconic California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park has reopened to the public following a year-long, $6 million seismic retrofit.

The 198-foot tower, built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition, offers 360-degree views of San Diego after an aerobic climb that takes about 10 minutes.

The tower was first opened for public tours in 2015 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the famous international exposition that put San Diego on the world map.

“Since 2015, our tower tours have provided over 130,000 visitors from around the world the opportunity to experience the Museum of Man and San Diego in a fun and dynamic way, and we are so pleased to once again be offering these tours to the public,” said Micah Parzen, chief executive officer of the museum. “We thank the city of San Diego for their partnership and investment in preserving the California Tower–one of the City’s most iconic cultural landmarks.”

The seismic retrofit upgraded the tower to current earthquake codes to ensure that the landmark is preserved. The work was funded by the city of San Diego and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Designed in classic Spanish style with Mexican details, the tower has appeared in several Hollywood features and has been described as the most-photographed landmark in San Diego. There are chimes at the top of the structure that play through recently upgraded speakers.

Tours of 12 guests at a time are scheduled 10 times daily and take around 40 minutes. Tickets cost $23  can be purchased at the museum.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.