Orange County is home to several unique children’s museums. From imaginative play to engaging science and history exhibits, these museums allow kids to interact with hands-on activities. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to spend a day at one of these exciting museums with your kids to make lasting memories and learn something new together.
**Bowers Kidseum is currently closed for renovations. All family programs will continue at Bowers during the closure.**
1802 North Main Street, Santa Ana
General Admission – 2 and up: $10
Open Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Kidseum is a children’s museum located at Bower’s Museum. Regular weekend activities at Kidseum include story times, face painting, and a drop in art studio where little artists can make their own masterpieces. While the exhibits change throughout the year, the opportunity to learn about art and culture through hands on exploration is consistent. In addition to exhibits, Kidseum hosts regular special events like festivals, art workshops, holiday events, archaeology days, music programs and more. Kidseum also offers summer camps and birthday party packages.
2500 North Main Street, Santa Ana
Parking: $5 parking, Cash Only
General Admission – Adults: $19.95, Children 3-14: $14.95, Children 2 and under: Free, Seniors 62+: $16.95, Discovery Theater Movie Tickets: $3.00
Open Daily except Thanksgiving & Christmas Day
The Discovery Cube is the bright-colored building with the giant cube just off the side of the freeway where the 22 and 55 meet. The museum is packed full of exciting, hands-on exhibits that kids love. There are a number of regular and special exhibits plus new special events added on a regular basis. In Mission Control, they’ll step inside a replica of a control room from the Jet Propulsion Lab, learn about landing a rover on Mars, and see what it takes to dock the International Space Station. In the Eco-Challenge exhibit, kids learn how to be eco-friendly shoppers and how to identify and dispose of household waste. Don’t miss the Shake Shack at the Discovery Cube where you can step inside and see what an earthquake feels like. Discovery cube has a variety of exhibits that are appropriate for ages 5 & up. Discovery Cube also offers packages for birthday parties and sleepovers.
600 E. Bay Avenue, Newport Beach, CA 92661
General Admission: $5 per person ages 3 and up
Museum & Whale Watching: $15 per person
Hours of Operation Vary
Discovery Cube’s Ocean Quest (formerly ExplorOcean) is located in coastal Newport Beach. Visitors can explore a variety of hands-on, interactive marine science-focused exhibits and activities. Whale watching and boat tours are available to round out your visit.
301 South Euclid Street, La Habra
General Admission – Ages 2 and Up: $12, La Habra Residents $11
Closed on Mondays
La Habra Children’s Museum is another paradise for little ones where they can put their hands on everything while they play and learn. Exhibits include a 1942 caboose and an outdoor dinosaur garden. Take a nature walk through a large selection of wild animals (most are taxidermy mounts) from California, the Pacific Northwest, and Africa and visit a selection of living creatures in The Grotto. Kids will learn about science in the STEAM Lab where they’ll play with a magnetic tube wall, flight lab tower, and a ramp and stackers kinetic play area. Dig for fossils in the Dig Site and explore the world of model trains in the Model Train Village. La Habra Children’s Museum features a carousel, an art center, and a play area. A truly exciting trip for toddlers and young elementary students. Birthday party packages are also available at La Habra Children’s Museum.
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29 Hubble Drive, Irvine, CA 92618
General Admission – Ages 1 and up: $13.95, Military & Family: $10.95
Pretend City is a must-do for anyone with toddler through elementary aged kids. There’s just so much to put your hands on here. Nothing is off limits, and imaginative play for young children is so important. They’ll use their creativity and imagination in the Art Studio. In the Amphitheater kids can dress up and put on performances. The Construction Site give kids the opportunity to use a variety of materials to build whatever they dream up. They’ll shop for a pretend family dinner in the Grocery Store, and learn the process of growing food in the Farm exhibit. They’ll learn about sea life at the Beach and Marina exhibits. Kids will work together on the Imagination Playground to problem solve and create whatever they want and have fun doing it all while developing social and emotional skills. Have lunch at the Real Café and take a piece of imaginative play home with you from the Mini-Mall. Pretend City is the museum of every kid’s dreams. Birthday Party Packages are also available at Pretend City.
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Free Museum Days
Bowers Museum – Children under 12 are always free at Bowers Museum. Admission to the Key Courtyard for the Family Festivals is free for adults on the first Sunday of every month. General admission is free to Santa Ana residents on Festival Sundays. Active Duty Military receive year-round free general admission with a valid ID, and veterans receive free general admission the Sunday before Veterans Day. Bowers Participates in the Blue Star Museums Program from August 1 – September 1.
Discovery Cube – Discovery Cube offers free admission to Bank of America cardholders on the Sunday of the first full weekend of every month. See the website for upcoming dates. Santa Ana residents with proof of residency and a valid ID can receive up to four free admissions on monthly Santa Ana Free Days. Visit the website for upcoming dates.
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, an expert at exploring all that Orange County has to offer, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.