Scientific visionary, Carl Sagan, once said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” That’s why the California Science Center in Exposition Park here in Los Angeles, is the absolute perfect place for pint-sized kids to spend the day. Get ready to explore, question, and discover the connection to the universe and all the wondrous possibilities it holds. Besides, there’s a reason why we name it one of the country’s best science museums for kids.

photo: California Science Center

What to See:

The California Science Center has so many interesting things to see during a single visit, it will be difficult to fit it all in (all the better that most of the permanent exhibits are free so you can go back again, and again, and again).

Before you get distracted by all there is to offer, every family’s first stop should be the Space Shuttle Endeavour in the Samuel Oschin Pavillion. Here, little ones can not only get up close and personal with the shuttle itself, but also learn about the space shuttle program and see artifacts from its voyages. This part cost $3 per persona and timed tickets are required for this exhibit.

The Transportation Gallery features oodles of hands-on exhibits that show how vehicles operate using machinery and aerodynamics. You’ll also sneak a peek at what lies ahead for the future of transportation.

photo: California Science Center

The Ecosystems Gallery features 11 different environments, including a touchable ice wall, a 188,000-gallon kelp tank filled with marine animals native to the Pacific, and a desert filled with live chuckwallas, tortoises and a flash flood every ten minutes just to name a few. Kids’ curiosities will run wild. Be to check out the daily Kelp Exploration Show too where children can get nose to nose with the kelp tank and ask the diver questions.

Keep an eye out for the Discovery Rooms specially designed for children Pre-K — 2nd grade with age-appropriate hands-on activities, books, and toys. You can find them in the Ecosystems, World and Life, and Creative World areas of the California Science Center.

photo: California Science Center via Facebook

Upcoming Exhibits:

Premiering at the California Science Center on Mar. 16, is a brand new, highly interactive science exhibition called Dogs! A Science Tail that highlights the dynamic nature of the bond between humans and dogs.

Families will be able to explore the world, from a pup’s perspective, through a variety of hands-on exhibits – from listening to hidden sounds that only dogs can hear to walking a dog through an interactive neighborhood to better understanding how pets strengthen our communities.

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There will also be daily live demonstrations of dogs in various roles showing rescue, agility, sensory and service skills. Dog lovers have a chance to share personal stories and photos of their own precious pooches on a photo wall as well.

Additionally, the Science Center will feature Superpower Dogs, a 3D IMAX. It’s a live-action family film about extraordinary real-life dogs who save lives, protect us from danger and make our world a better place.

IMAX and exhibition tickets are now on sale and cost: $7.95 – $9.95 or $12.70-$16.90 if you combine the exhibit with the movie.

Getting There
To help make your visit easy peasy, check the California Science Center website ahead of time to see if there are any alerts about events in Exposition Park that may impact parking or your experience. Parking cost $12 but if you’d rather skip parking all together, the Metro Expo Line. Expo Park/USC Station has a stop right in front of the Science Center.

Pro Tip: Avoid lines at the box office by obtaining timed reservations for the Space Shuttle Endeavour exhibit, special exhibitions or IMAX tickets in advance online. If you’re able to visit from 10 a.m. — noon. on weekends, you’ll usually find a much lighter crowd than the afternoons.

Where to Eat: Trimana Grill offers food options on site, including Kid’s Happy Meals (kid-size portions of select menu items with juice, milk or water). Just beware if you eat outside, California Science Center pigeons really love French fries.

Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free, special exhibits and films may have additional costs

700 Exposition Park Dr.
Los Angeles
323-724-3623
Online: californiasciencecenter.org

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–Jennifer O’Brien 

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