The California Science Center has so many new exhibits that it’s barely recognizable as the spot we visited a few years ago, and provides prime ground for kids to learn more lessons than a textbook could possibly teach in the same amount of time. It’s time for a visit! Admission to the Science Center itself is free, but you must buy tickets to see a movie in the IMAX theater or to see the Endeavor (both of which are worth the few extra bucks).
1. The Endeavour Space Shuttle: We have more than one reason for making the Endeavour space shuttle our #1 thing to see. Your tour will start with an exhibit full of information about the history and construction of the space shuttle. Kids will love the video about eating in zero gravity and the space shuttle simulator, but the real highlight comes after you make your way downstairs and in to a massive room that houses the shuttle itself.
2. River Zone: We’ve selected a few of the “zone” ecosystem exhibits at the Science Center we think are particularly worthwhile, although each zone has something unique and interesting to offer. The River Zone is full of fun, interactive activities that will make kids love to learn. Create ripples in a ‘river’ mounted on the wall by pounding on a drum, see how wind can change a landscape, and understand why the torpedo shape of fish lessens drag.
3. Extreme Zone: The Science Center’s Extreme Zone is all about harsh environments (as the name suggests). Here you’ll find loads of information about life in the deserts, poles, deep sea vents, and rocky shores of our planet. Enjoy getting up close and personal with a massive ice block and learn why some organism can survive under bone crushing pressure. Just beware of the flash floods that take place every 10 minutes in the desert ecosystem.
4. L.A. Zone: This exhibit is a wonderful opportunity for kids to understand how Los Angeles functions. From waste products to water deliveries and L.A’s wildlife, everything in the L.A. Zone is designed with the city in mind. Some of our favorites include the Bobcat Tilt Table and Landfill Finds. Plus, take a peek into the surrounding natural environment with telescopes pointed at the rose garden adjacent to the Science Center.
5. Kelp Forest: The kelp forest is a great look into life under water that will help your kids become familiar with just a few out of the hundreds of species that live in kelp forests all over the world’s oceans. If you’re around at 11:00 A.M. or 2:30 P.M., head to the kelp forest for the daily Science Spectacular dive show to watch divers interact with animals in the tank and take questions from the audience.
6. Touch Tank: Just outside and above the kelp forest is every child’s favorite: a touch tank full of sea creatures that kids will love learning all about. If the line is a bit long when you arrive, try your hand at being a barnacle (literally, stick your hand in a chamber with ping pong balls flying around and see how many you can get, just like barnacles catch food) or see how various creatures “stand up to waves” in another interactive simulator.
7. Rose Garden Café: Located on the ground level, the Rose Garden Café is the perfect place to grab a mid-museum tour snack, or a full meal. The café has a good variety of options including sandwiches, salads, and pizza, plus offerings from the Taco Bell Express. And if you’re looking for even faster food, McDonalds is on the same level just across the main lobby.
8. World of Life: The World of Life exhibit is a great way to learn all about your own body. Different sections explain all about the human immune system, digestive system and more, and include stations to teach you and your kids about things like all 21 feet of a digestive tract, or how drinking really impairs driving ability. Take a stab at the drunk driving simulator and say hello to some adorable baby chicks. If you’re extra lucky, you might even get to see one hatch!
9. ExploraStore: Located on the first level—ExploraStore—the Science Center’s gift shop, is the place to go for souvenirs. Shelves are stocked with everything from T-shirts to rubber snakes, and the store is complete with a fish tank and penny press in front that make fun and inexpensive keepsakes. Just be prepared to work your way through a maze of very excited middle schoolers to find what you’re looking for.
10. IMAX: The seven story IMAX screen at the Science Center is the perfect way to see beautifully shot films like To The Arctic, Hubble 3D, and a variety of Blue Planet movies. Go here for movie times.
Past articles about the California Science Center