From Aquariums and Science Centers to Art Museums, These Museums Will Keep Your Little Ones Entertained All Day Long
When most kids hear the word “museum,” the immediate follow up is usually a grand, “Do we have to?” as they picture aisles upon aisles of ancient texts, unrecognizable fossils and illegible hieroglyphics. Needless to say, it is not their first pick for an ideal way to spend an afternoon, but if you were to shut down the search for a fun, educational experience in SoCal by ruling out museums, you’d be missing out on an opportunity to expand their minds and create memories. Southern California is chock-full of some of the best kid-friendly museums in the country. Featuring everything from action-packed interactive experiences and immersive tours of their favorite animals’ natural homes to loads of puzzles, brain-teasers and games, these 10 kid-friendly museums in SoCal are sure to turn that dreaded “do we have to?” into a resounding “when can we come back?!”
New Children’s Museum in San Diego
For those looking to help their kids foster creativity in a fun and exciting way, the New Children’s Museum in San Diego is a must-visit. With a series of hands-on art-making activities, playgrounds, demonstrations and galleries, the New Children’s Museum aims to expose kids to the magic of artistic creation by letting them explore, experiment and learn about the art of the past, present and future. Whether it be at the clay studio, innovators lab or on the lawn of their museum park, this museum is sure to put a smile on your child’s face.5/29
Kidspace Children’s Museum, Pasadena
Some of a child’s fondest childhood memories come from simply getting out and exploring the natural beauty around them, and at Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, they get an opportunity to do exactly that. With 3.5 acres of outdoor exhibits featuring everything from model rocket launches to exploring a live butterfly garden, this museum is the perfect place to introduce your kids to the wonders of nature and science while fostering a sense of curiosity and instilling an innate excitement for learning in the great outdoors.
California Science Center, Los Angeles
The California Science Center in Los Angeles has had many names over its treasured century-long history, but no matter its title, this museum has been a staple in the SoCal community. From jaw-dropping exhibits, such as the immaculate presentation of the space shuttle “Endeavor,” to mesmerizing displays like their “Life! Beginnings” gallery, it is easy to see why this historic museum is a welcomed member of the Smithsonian national family. For those seeking to expose their kids to some of the wonders of science, industry and innovation, this is a must-visit.6/20
Discovery Cube, Orange County
From its iconic, towering, cube-shaped architecture to the many wonders stored inside, the Discovery Cube in Orange County is perfect for those looking to laugh and learn alongside their kids. Opened in 1998, this museum has proudly delighted multiple generations of youngsters with amazing scientific displays. Whether they’re learning about the “magic” of seemingly impossible physics at their iconic “Bed of Nails” exhibit or exploring the massive treehouse biome of the “Rainforest Adventure” room, your kids are sure to love learning about science and nature in this one-of-a-kind museum.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
For parents of future biologists, paleontologists or fans of anything related to nature and animals, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Equal parts wildlife park and natural history exposé, this sprawling museum offers kids a rare close encounter with nature in an environment where they can learn, explore and interact with the natural world. Their dozens of exhibits encompass everything from ancient history, such as their interactive “Dinosaur Encounters” show, to more recent marvels in their hands-on Nature Lab.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA as it is colloquially known, is a great museum for children and adults of all ages looking to explore the wonderful world of modern art. This museum prides itself on presenting unique, innovative and even whimsical sculptures, displays and other works that are sure to delight and dazzle visitors. And with fun and unique exhibits like their robotic “Metropolis” sculpture as well as the iconic hall of lamposts stationed just outside, this museum perfectly blends play with artistic prowess, making it a great stop during any visit to Los Angeles.
Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach
Hailed as one of the best aquariums nationwide, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach sits neatly on glittering beach shores and offers an unparalleled glimpse into what lies beneath. Featuring everything from massive biome displays filled with thousands of different critters and creatures to interactive learning experiences where kids can interact with some of their favorite aquatic animals, this aquarium is sure to leave kids with a newfound love and appreciation for the oceans and all those who call it home.
USS Midway Museum, San Diego
The only thing cooler than learning about a famous World War II aircraft carrier is getting the chance to actually step foot on one and get an up close and personal view of a proud piece of US history. At the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, guests can do exactly that! Take your kids on an exciting guided tour through one of America’s mightiest ships while also getting a first-hand look at iconic fighter planes and historical artifacts, giving them a glimpse of history that a textbook could never offer.
Bowers Museum, Santa Ana
Bowers Museum in Santa Ana showcases an exceptional collection of international art and artifacts. With nine different exhibits–each offering a glimpse into a different culture from a unique part of the world–this museum, while sophisticated in its curation, is sure to dazzle even the youngest of viewers with its ornate displays and rare finds. With exhibits on everything from the history of California to the art of high-fashion, this gallery is teeming with hidden gems suited to a wide variety of interests. Bowers Museum also hosts a variety of family-friendly events and activities, such as storytime and festivals; to see what’s coming up, click here!
The Children’s Museum at La Habra
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Kicking off our list is one of the original kid-friendly museums in all of California: The Children’s Museum at La Habra. Founded in 1977, this massive indoor and outdoor space has dedicated itself to providing children of all ages with enriching hands-on opportunities to engage their creativity while learning about art, science, history and society. With seven hands-on galleries–including the ever-popular S.T.E.A.M. Lab where kids can put their engineering skills to the test–as well as an outdoor dinosaur garden, this museum is sure to make any afternoon a memorable one.