Finally, a museum where children can get their hands on everything in sight! That’s the goal of the Kidspace Children’s Museum located next to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The 2.2 acres are filled with exhibits and activities that encourage kids ages 2 to 10 to explore and learn in a playful atmosphere. It is the perfect place to shake out the wiggles and best of all, there’s plenty of places to get wet and wild, toddler style.
When to go: Year around, though the museum is closed on UCLA game days so be sure to check their calendar for a list of dates. The museum is open (from September to May) Monday to Friday from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
How to get there: Kidspace is located at 480 N. Arroyo Boulevard in Pasadena at the west end of Brookside Park near the Rose Bowl Stadium. Free parking is available in Lot I, next to the west end of Brookside Park, however parking can be difficult on Sundays during the Rose Bowl flea market, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. For driving directions from various areas and alternative directions if Arroyo Boulevard is blocked off (for special events at the Rose Bowl), click here.
Kidspace is also accessible via Metro Gold Line, Metro Bus, and the Pasadena ARTS Bus Line. For more information, click here.
What to bring: Camera, snacks, layers of clothing for the day, and possibly a picnic for lunch!
How to dress: Be sure to pack an extra pair of water-friendly play clothes or a swimsuit, a towel and water shoes. The kids will get wet!
What to do: This isn’t the typical glass-box, exhibit museum, instead the indoor-outdoor space is filled with play-based activities and learning tools. Think of this museum as a big learning play space and you’ll be in the right frame of mind.
Highlights are the massive climbing structures like the multi-story Wisteria Climber, the huge three-story InterActics Climber and the architectural Raindrop Climber reaching 40 feet in the air (so not for the faint of heart, kiddos!) and constructed of glass to kids can truly get a birds-eye view of the space around them.
Head to the Digging Deeper Gallery to get up close to nature and learn about bugs, rocks, fossils, and more. Exhibits include Bugsy’s Diner where it’s all about discovering the habits of creepy crawlers, the earthquake experience called the Shake Zone, and the Nature Exchange—the latter of which enables kids to research and trade minerals, specimens, and more.
If you have tots under the age of 4, head to the Early Childhood Learning Center. This space is filled with age-appropriate games and climbers away from the onslaught of busy older kids! Outside head to Kirby’s Korner where there is everything from a trike track (helmets provided) to cool water tables
Certainly the outdoor space is a huge draw with plenty of opportunity for water play, from a cool creek to a water drop tower and more. Don’t miss the gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Nancy Goslee Power and brimming with local plants and varietals.
Lunch spots: The museum has a café if you are in a pinch but packing a picnic is definitely the way to go (and save a few bucks).
Cost: $10 per adult, $10 children, free for children under 12 months. If you plan on multiple trips, a membership is a great investment at $99 for six months and $179 for a year. This includes entrance for a family of four and access to various museums across the nation along with many discounts.
Bonus: Kidspace routinely hosts fun events like summer concerts, the pumpkin festival and even cool camps, so be sure to check the events page. Additionally, it is a great spot to host a birthday party in the Digging Deeper gallery or Stone Hollow Amphitheater, complete with catering from Wolfgang Puck.
— Lara Burnap