The New Children’s Museum is the perfect place to let the kids run wild while you fuel their bodies and minds with imaginative play. The museum recently opened its doors to its latest exhibition, Eureka! — a celebration of all-things California. Five new spaces make up the exhibition, which are ready for kids to engage in open-ended play. From a 40-foot climbable home to karaoke fun in a car, there’s plenty to create an awesome family time together. We’ve got your insider’s look at what to expect at Eureka!


Desert Derby by Roman De Salvo
Desert Derby is a high-octane exhibit where your wee ones can step into the shoes of a derby car driver as they race a car around a track that weaves its way around waterways, up hills and spins through tight turns. Created by Roman De Salvo, this piece encourages you to think like the freeways connect through the state. There are waterways that keep our state north to south, and our thirsts quenched. This is a popular piece and there can be a bottleneck when it gets busy, so be prepared for lots of energetic derby riders running around! If you need a bit of peace and quiet, pop outside to the Orange We exhibit for more space and some climbing fun.


Sandbox Gallery
The Sandbox Gallery may just be the coolest experience you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Shadows of clouds and the sounds of crashing waves (aka “A Distant Episode” by Jesse Kaminsky) create a movie-style ambiance while you take off your shoes and step into the 11′ x 14′ sandbox to take it all in. Your munchkins will love being able to sift, funnel and build while taking in the mini movie. If getting your feet sandy isn’t your thing, never fear! You can pull up a seat on the wooden boardwalk or sit on the benches outside. The sand is very fine and dry (and has gold flecks all through it!) so you won’t be too sandy. But if you’d rather keep 100% clean, save the sandbox gallery until the end of your visit.


Take a rest in the center court and you’ll be amazed at the 40-foot gold tissue paper balloon hanging in the museum atrium. This ginormous sculpture is held together with thousands of interconnecting tissue paper triangles that symbolizes the dual nature of the two Californias – Alta California in the United States, and Baja California in Mexico. While you’re taking in the view, challenge the kiddos to count the number of “Made in the USA” and “Hecho en Mexico” stamps. Or play “eye spy” at the secret pictures when you peer inside the bridge from the top level.


Head on into Car-e-oke and get ready for a feel good sing along. Housed in a 1984 Mercedes Benz the kiddos can climb through the side door into a open car space where the windscreens house a karaoke screen and the driving wheel has been replaced with a music machine and microphones. The song selection is upbeat and feel good. Think “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, 1D’s “Beautiful” and a bit of retro goodness like “99 Red Balloons” play over the radio while everyone sings and gets a groove on. For those with sensitive ears, the volume level isn’t too loud and there’s a great space outside for parents to keep an eye on your mini singers.

PicMonkey Collage

Reconnecting To Home
As the saying goes, “There is no place like home.” But what does home mean? Alison Pebworth explored that exact thought by creating a home oasis that your kiddos will go wild over. This four-story home takes on a different style at each level. Mini museum goers of all levels are welcome, but it’s worth noting that levels one and two are best suited for younger kids while levels three and four have steep staircases and are older-kid approved. While the kids play house, they can write notes about home and hang them on banister, draw a masterpiece on the blackboard walls, or send things down to ground level on the pulley system. Kids under 6 must be accompanied by an adult in the home. So if you have a little, prepare yourself that everyone may need to play house.

Hot Tips for Your Trip

  • The Museum gets busy, especially on weekends and school holidays. But if you plan on expecting crowds, then you should be able to manage the day easily!
  • If your squad gets hungry, check out the Green Bellies Cafe on the ground floor. All their food is natural and free of processed sugar, additives and fillers so you know it’s going to taste good and be good for them. Or bring your own food and sit in the courtyard area.
  • Metered parking is available on the street, or park in the New Children’s Museum underground car park (accessed from Front and Union Streets) for $10.
  • If you have time, check out the playground across the street or the museum’s community garden. It makes for a great, well-rounded trip!

The New Children’s Museum
200 West Island Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92101

Hours: Mon., Wed., Thurs., Sat., 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Fri., 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sun., 12 – 4 p.m. (closed Tues.)
Cost: $6 – $12 (free/members and kids under 1)

Have you checked out Eureka! at the New Children’s Museum? What did you think?

— Lenya McGrath (photos too)