Our Sunday visit to Kidspace Children’s Museum was prompted by an idea I had to adopt caterpillars so the boys could watch them grow into butterflies, then set them free. (From March 17 through April 17, you too can adopt a caterpillar at Kidspace for $5 a piece.)
The added bonus of our visit was getting to spend a couple of hours exploring some 2.2 acres of outdoor learning space perfect for little nature adventurers.
WHY IT’S GREAT FOR NATURE LOVERS
What makes Kidspace so wonderful is that everything is meant to be touched, poked, prodded, manipulated and investigated by young kids – to help turn them on to nature, science and the world around them through play.
The indoor exhibits include tons of hands-on attractions, like this one about bees.
How often can you show a kid what a queen bee looks like? She’s the one with the white spot.
My son has always been wary of bees (perhaps because mom has an allergy?) and this exhibit gave me a chance to show him how cool bees are – and how hard they work.
There are all kinds of insects and other crawly critters here that kids love to ogle, like scorpions and hissing cockroaches.
But my favorite part of the indoor gallery is the nature exchange – a place where you can bring in your own objects from nature (like shells, rocks, minerals or soil) and trade them to Kidspace educators for points. Then you can use your points to trade for other objects. Even though we didn’t do any trading, there were plenty of found objects to look at and touch, from pinecones of all shapes and sizes to rocks, shells, minerals and more.
What could top that you ask? The gardens, pond, willows, meadow and more that await you outside!
WHAT WE LIKED
My youngest is fascinated with water. Every time he’s anywhere near it, he wants in (regardless of whether it’s safe or practical!). Kidspace offered plenty of options for his enjoyment – from one of the coolest water tables I’ve ever seen at Kirby’s Kids’ Corner (just for kids 4 and under) to a feature called “Water Symphony,” where kids aim squirt guns at drums to create different sounds based on which drums they hit.
My oldest loved the “Spider Web,” a human-sized web made from rope. He couldn’t help but pretend to be a spider once he got into place.
We strolled the gardens beyond for even more treasures – including a vegetable garden, pond and covered bridge. (Although we didn’t get a chance, plenty of kids were playing in the stream below the bridge and loving every minute of it!)
We took a nature walk through the “Bumpy, Fuzzy Garden,” so named because it’s filled with fun, textural plants that kids love to touch.
Both of my kids also spent a fair amount of time at the trike tracks riding bikes around a marked course. I was thrilled to see them so active and engaged.
I’m happy to report that amidst all this fun, we didn’t forget the caterpillars. We picked up two new temporary house guests we hope to see transform before our very eyes.
Time it right and you can even take part in the Museum’s Grand Butterfly Release ceremony on April 17, 2010.
- Open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed on Mondays from September through May
- Museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and on select Saturdays in the fall to accommodate UCLA football games at the Rose Bowl
- Admission is $10 per person, free for kids under 12 months
- Parking is free (and plentiful)
- Three restrooms are available
- There is one place for food inside Kidspace – Nestle Café by Wolfgang Puck, which features sandwiches, burgers, wraps and salads
- Strollers are not permitted in indoor exhibits and aren’t practical in the upper outdoor area
MY TIPS FOR A GREAT VISIT
- Go early to beat the crowds. We were there when the gate opened at 10 a.m. on Sunday and had the place to ourselves. We worked the grounds from front to back (indoor exhibits, then outdoor). By the time we were ready to leave a couple of hours later, there were waits for pretty much every activity.
- Plan a spring visit when it’s warm enough to enjoy the multitude of water activities but cool enough to not be uncomfortable.
- Bring a towel and a change of clothes because water play is a major component of the fun.
- Cut costs and enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds just outside the museum. There’s also a play structure there to explore – if your kids still have the energy!
Kidspace Children’s Museum is located at:
480 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91103
Directions to Kidspace Children’s Museum