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SUMMER FUN: Children’s Museums in Southern California



Child exploring simulated fire station (Children's Museum of Denver, 2009)

Where do families go in Southern California to escape the heat?  To a local children’s museum, of course.

The first children’s museum, called the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, was founded in 1899.

Brooklyn Children's Museum

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Association of Children’s Museums says that “Children’s museums are places where children learn through play and exploration in environments designed just for them.  Reflecting their diverse communities, children’s museums create playful, interactive learning experiences.  In an increasingly complex world, children’s museums provide a place where all kids can learn through play with the caring adults in their lives.”

Temporary children's play area at the National Museum of Singapore - 20100626

Children’s museums are perfect for families with young children.  They provide a safe place for children to explore, use their creativity and dive deep into imaginary play.  The words “touch, feel and see” are always welcomed.

Children’s Museums also host a variety of special events and programs throughout the year to encourage family togetherness, community involvement and volunteerism.

In Southern California, we are lucky to have over 10 children’s museums within a few hours from any city in the southland, including Barstow!  Just take a look at our list below.

Children Museum Amman 3Los Angeles County

Kidspace Museum, Pasadena

Kidspace Museum’s believes that “when learning becomes fun, the learner does so willingly.”  They offer an expansive outdoor play area that features hands-on arts & science exhibits.  The first Tuesday of every month is FREE Family Night.

Noah’s Ark at The Skirball Museum, Los Angeles

Noah’s Ark is a special space within The Skirball Museum dedicated especially to children.  The space features a floor-to-ceiling wooden ark filled with a variety of animals, where children can play, build, climb, explore, make music and more.  Admission is FREE.

Zimmer Children’s Museum, Los Angeles

The Zimmer Children’s Museum’s mission is to make a better society through interactive learning, creative self-expression and art experiences for children and families.  They serve children specifically ages 0-8.  In addition to their regular hours, the museum will be open every Monday in July and August.

Orange County

La Habra Children’s Museum, La Habra

La Habra Children’s Museum’s exhibits include a hand-carved carousel and a classic 1942 railroad car.  On certain Sundays throughout the year, the museum offers FREE admission and family programming, sponsored by Target.

Pretend City, Irvine

Pretend City Children’s Museum features a small, interconnected city designed to “build better brains” through purposeful play, hands-on learning experiences, role-playing, and educational programming.  Visit their new summer exhibit The Ultimate Recycling Machine Challenge now through August 1.

Ultimate Recycling Challenge @ Pretend City

Ultimate Recycling Machine Challenge at Pretend City (2014)

Discovery Science Center, Santa Ana

The Discovery Science Center is a children’s science museum with more than 100 hands-on science exhibits designed to spark children’s natural curiosity.

Their current exhibit, Mythbusters – The Explosive Exhibit, is bound to be a summer hit.

Field Trip Boy Exploring One Of The MythBusters Exhibits At The Discovery Science Center

Field Trip Boy Checking Out The MythBusters Exhibit @ The Discovery Science Center (2014)

Bowers Kidseum, Santa Ana

Bowers Kidseum, both an interactive children’s museum and learning center, offers multi-faceted art and cultural experiences for young children, their families and the community.  The museum is primarily dedicated to the pre-school and early elementary age children.  Visitors can enjoy free access to the museum and all activities on the first Sunday of every month, thanks to the Target Corporation.

Field Trip Girl At The Kidseum in Santa Ana

Field Trip Girl At Bowers Kidseum (2012)

Riverside / San Bernardino Counties

Chino Youth Museum, Chino

The Chino Youth Museum’s mission statement is to provide an interactive learning environment to foster a better understand of tomorrow through an appreciation of yesterday and today.  On the first Friday of every month they host a FREE family event that features an entertainer, craft and a healthy snack. 

Pennypickle’s Workshop, Temecula Children’s Museum, Temecula

At Pennypickle’s Workshop, kids don’t even know they are learning as they explore over 7500 square feet of hands-on inventions, gadgets and experiments.  On June 28, the museum is hosting a FREE family workshop called Building-Crazy-Contraptions, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Children’s Discovery Museum Of The Desert, Rancho Mirage

At the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert kids are encouraged to touch, feel, learn, think, and play.  It’s an interactive and engaging museum for children with more than 40 hands-on learning exhibits in an environment that sparks imagination and curiosity.  The museum serves children of all ages with particular emphasis on primary school age children of the Coachella Valley.

Fingerprints Youth Museum, Hemet

Fingerprints Youth Museum has a flair for exciting the imagination of a child and offers the most trendiest interactive exhibits for children in Riverside County.  To take a virtual, visit

San Diego County

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, Escondido

The mission of the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum is to inspire children to learn about our world through exploration, imagination, and experimentation.  Serving children ages 0-10, SDCDM focuses on these critical years of child development while also encouraging families to learn together.  Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, they are offering FREE admission for Active Duty Military and Veteran Families.

The New Children’s Museum, San Diego

The New Children’s Museum is an arts-based children’s museum that commissions contemporary artists to create pieces with tactile, physical and participatory elements, opening up a world of art to children through opportunities to observe and create.  Join the museum for their 2nd Annual Superheroes’ Night Out family party on Saturday, July 12.

Ventura County

Gull Wings Children’s Museum, Oxnard

Gull Wings is a hands on museum for children aged 2 – 8 that offers weekly art, music and science programs.  Their exciting exhibits include a marine animal touch tank, model train display, Lego-a-Go-Go Room, Orion Space Station and exotic animals (think tarantula!).

If you know of a great children’s museum in the area that should be added to our list, please let us know at [email protected].

Happy Summer Field Tripping,


Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions and points of view are our own.  Images used by permission via Wikimedia commons.


Along Comes Mary

Wednesday 25th of June 2014

I live around the corner from Kidspace, so fun!! :)


Wednesday 25th of June 2014

Yeah, that's probably a good plan. Hide behind the boys!

The Balanced Brunette

Wednesday 25th of June 2014

Do you have to have kids to go? Because these all look really fun! Haha.


Wednesday 25th of June 2014

Funny! Probably not, but you might look a bit strange playing with the legos and dressing up like a princess.

Erika Grediaga

Wednesday 25th of June 2014

I didn't know about Zimmer's museum! Thanks for the tip and I look forward to go visit a new place! Awesome list of places to visit, by the way ;)


Wednesday 25th of June 2014

Thank you Erika. I appreciate the feedback. Stay tuned for a giveaway to The Discovery Science Center coming up next. :)