Space Destinations in Southern California
Does your family love learning about our universe? Visit these awesome space centers, planetariums, and observatories for an out-of-this-world learning experience.
If you plan on attending these places, be sure to check their website or contact them directly for hours, times, and dates of tours. Many are only open seasonally or offer very specific tour dates.
California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles
In a Nutshell: Permanent space-themed exhibits include spacesuits and spacecraft used to send humans to space, satellites to explore planets, telescopes to peer out in space, and best of all the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Endeavor is on display in a pavilion while its permanent home is being built. Visitors will get to see the shuttle up close and learn about its past missions.
Columbia Memorial Space Center
12400 Columbia Way, Downey
In a Nutshell: Hands-on learning center that is dedicated to bringing the wonder and excitement of space science to children of all ages. It also serves as the national memorial for the Space Shuttle Columbia’s seven crew members, lost in 2003.
Summer 2022 Highlights: Southern California’s only annual rocket festival, Rocket Fever, returns on Sunday, August 13th. All registered participants will receive a free model rocket that they can build on-site and launch. Rocket Fever will be open to the public who can also take advantage of free admission to the Space Center.
Discovery Cube OC
2500 N Main Street, Santa Ana
In a Nutshell: Permanent space-themed exhibits at Discovery Cube OC include Mission Control and the Planetary Research Station.
Summer 2022 Highlights: Check out temporary exhibit, Solar System Encounter (open through September 5, 2022), and get fully immersed in a large-scale, up-close view of our Solar System. Discover the giant, glowing display of the Sun and planets with projection mapping and colorful lights. More exhibits are coming soon! Look out for Rocket Launch! and the Mars Rover Test Course exhibit opening later this summer.
2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles
In a Nutshell: Griffith Observatory is a unique hybrid of public observatory, planetarium, and exhibition space. Visitors can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows, and enjoy amazing views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign. Free public telescope viewing is available each evening when skies are clear and the building is open.
Summer 2022 Highlights: Discover what it took to put life in the universe with their new show, Signs of Life.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena
In a Nutshell: Did you know JPL has visited every planet in our solar system and the sun and interstellar space? JPL is a research and development lab federally funded by NASA and managed by Caltech.
Highlights: Public tours are offered for individuals and families of 10 people or fewer. Tours include a multimedia presentation about the laboratory’s activities and accomplishments. Guests will also get to see the Visitor Center, Space Flight Operations Facility, and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility. Tours must be booked at least 3 weeks in advance.
Mount Wilson Observatory
Mount Wilson Road, Mount Wilson
In a Nutshell: Mount Wilson Observatory is home to two of the world’s largest telescopes available for public use. Weekend public tours are available every weekend until December 1, 2022. Visitors are able to enter the area directly beneath the 100-inch telescope and entrance into the 60-inch dome. On most tours, the 150-foot solar tower telescope will be open as well, providing an opportunity for visitors to safely observe the sun.
Summer 2022 Highlights: Enjoy Sunday Afternoon Concerts in the Dome and the NASA/Hubble Traveling Exhibit (open through September 4, 2022), where visitors can see a replica of the telescope, interactive holograms, hands-on displays, and images of planets, galaxies, and black holes!
Mt. San Antonio College – Randall Planetarium
1100 N. Grand Ave., Building 26C, Walnut
In a Nutshell: The planetarium is currently closed for renovations and plans to reopen in the fall.
Orange Coast College Planetarium
2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa
In a Nutshell: The exhibit hall has several permanent and rotating exhibits that are free to visit during normal hours including the Foucault Pendulum (a device that demonstrates the rotation of the Earth) and a collection of meteorites including a 40-pound fragment that created a giant crater in Arizona.
Summer 2022 Highlights: Based on the popular book series, visit the planetarium for Magic Tree House: Space Mission on Saturday, July 21, 2022 and Sunday, July 23, 2022. Join brother-sister duo Jack and Annie as they uncover the mysteries of the universe. Plus, there’s also a laser light show for fans of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on Friday, August 12, 2022. Find tickets for both shows here.
San Diego Air & Space Museum
2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego
In a Nutshell: One of the world’s premier air and space-themed science centers and museum with more than 120 aircraft and space vehicles and two million artifacts on display.
Summer 2022 Highlights: The GALILEO: Space Visionary special exhibition is now open! The family-friendly exhibition reveals the secrets of Galileo’s groundbreaking science with a simple machines lab, STEM lab, and more. SPACE: Our Greatest Adventure is also open and features spacecraft, selfie stations, and more.
UCLA, Mathematical Sciences Building
In a Nutshell: Public planetarium shows are presented for free every Wednesday evening starting at 8pm (during Daylight Savings Time) or 7pm otherwise. On clear nights, visitors can look through one of the department telescopes after the show.
This post was written by Kidsguide