The museum provides free exhibitions and school tours of the museum exhibitions highlighting the visual arts, history, and culture of South Bay San Diego. The museum has a permanent gallery of historical artifacts and natural history objects that allow “history to come to life” for visitors. Discover our culturally rich and diverse region!
California History tours led by docents allow students to interact with objects in the museum and to learn about early days in Bonita. Students can find maps about Kumeyaay sites along the Sweetwater River and explore native plants, such as juncus used for weaving. Students can see a grinding stones used to crush acorn nuts and seeds. In addition, students can experience life from the 1700s and 1800s when the region was Alta California Spain, and Alta California Mexico. Tours detail the daily life of students during the great migration into California in the 1880s, by presenting a school room and kitchen environment with touchable objects like a butter churn, cradle, and school desk. Tours also include information about early water transportation methods, the building of the Sweetwater Dam and the flood of 1916. The agriculture of the region including farming methods and the Bonnie Brae Lemons patented in Bonita.
School tours include a hands-on art activity. Teachers can sign up for clay pot making or watercolor painting.
Plan your Field Trip
- Book your visit – Click Here to fill out a request form
- Plan your visit at least two weeks ahead of time. (most tours are on Tues., Wed. Thurs. or Fri.)
- Activities at the museum: Art, History, Culture, California History
- Paleontology: Fossils of South Bay San Diego
- Art Activity: Clay pot making, Design your Planet in watercolor
- Resource guide:
Carolynn Gibbs is a retired elementary school teacher with South Bay School District where she taught for 30 years. She has been volunteering at the Bonita Museum for 14 years and the Education Chair for 10 years. The class then creates an art lesson to take home to remember their experiences. There is plenty of time for students to go around the museum and look at all the historical items that help them remember the good old days.
Daryl Hern is a retired fourth grade bilingual teacher. Ms. Daryl Hern taught for 22 years in National City. Besides the Bonita Museum, her interests include genealogy, horses, bees, and Bonitafest.
Linda Allen became a docent at the Museum in 2006 after she retired from teaching at South Bay School District. For tours she dresses like a schoolmarm from early days in Bonita. Linda shows students the games that children would play at recess in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Linda says “Interactive activities with our school visitors help bring appreciation for history and social studies.”