Look beyond the beach if the weather turns nasty in the Santa Cruz County area and head to the Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery. Situated in the center of the Capitola Mall, this unlikely location for a museum serves up some great indoor education and entertainment for your little ones. The hands-on activities are interesting and varied enough to keep children aged two to eight occupied for hours. The exhibits have a local flavor, from the agricultural theme of the play farmers market to the popular beach-themed sand pit. For repeat visitors the exhibits and layout are changed on a regular basis so there’s always something new to explore.

Big Blue Blocks

For the active engineers in your family there’s the giant foam blocks area. Limited only by their imaginations, children can construct all sorts of buildings, bridges and tunnels with the help of the soft interconnecting blocks, tubes and cylinders.

Deep Sea Exhibit

In keeping with the ocean vibe of the Santa Cruz area, your children can learn about the creatures of the deep by dressing in costume and exploring the fluorescent lit deep sea tent. Your kids will have a ball dressing up and playing make believe in the deep sea.

Augmented Reality Sandbox

A highlight of the museum is the topographic sand pit, a fitting exhibit for Santa Cruz, an area renowned for its varied landscape of mountains and oceans. Children move sand around a sandbox, building hills and valleys, and observe the results on a digital display which simulates real-world topography and water flow.

Dinosaur Exhibit

All kids love dinosaurs and here they can dig for fossils with a real brush in the sand pit. They can learn more about our prehistoric friends from the surrounding books, models and posters.

Workshops and Classes

In addition to the exhibits, educators put on workshops throughout the day which are free with your day pass or museum membership. These can be story time, open art time, science demonstrations and even sock puppet making. All exhibits are conceived by former teachers or early childhood educators so you can be sure your kids are getting a well thought out learning experience. Check the event calendar for what’s on the day you visit.

Museum Membership

If you’re planning on a being a regular visitor it might be worth selecting one of the three membership options. Benefits include unlimited visits, some free passes for friends and discounts for birthday party packages and the Museum Store.

Time to Shop

When you’re done at the museum, and want to extend the excursion, you’re conveniently located in the middle of a family friendly shopping mall! Check out the indoor playground around the corner while you fuel up in the food court. There are children’s clothing specialty stores and kids love visiting the Santa Cruz SPCA to say hello to the adoptable dogs and cats.

Details

Hours: Monday to Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m.
Cost: Adults $8, Seniors & Active Duty Military: $6, Children Ages 1 – 17: $5
Location: 1855 41st Avenue, Suite C-10, Capitola, CA 
Online: sccmod.org

Have you visited the Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery recently? Let us know your kid’s favorite area in a comment!

—Martin Spierings