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Saturday, February 19, 2011

California Science Center, Los Angeles

The California Science Center is an outstanding public science museum adjacent to USC in the University Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. It has dozens of state of the art exhibits for all age groups.

Best of all - it's free.

Two Saturdays ago we were in Los Angeles for a send off for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their three three kids, whose job has taken them to Shanghai, China (!).

We were down for the weekend to say good-bye, but also to provide some needed childcare as they got some last minute things done. First stop with "the cousins" - the California Science Center.

Stars? Molecules? Well, it looked cool. This is looking up at the entrance pavilion.

While the Science Center is often crowded during the week with school groups, we got there when it opened at 10am on Saturday, and it was virtually empty. Kind of nice.

Unlike other places where the "suggested donation" really isn't "suggested" - it's an admission fee, the California Science Center really is free.

If they were smart, they'd put in a credit card machine or two. If Los Angeles can have parking meters that accept credit cards, surely a museum of this calibre can, too.

Just a suggestion.

First stop: the Eco System Exhibit upstairs.

The Eco System exhibit opened last year - and is
very impressive.

It features various ecological environments: desert, forest, rivers, the L.A. cityscape, and oceans.

My niece inside the kelp forest display - part of the oceans.

There is a twenty-five foot deep salt water tank with kelp, marine life, and (when we were there) divers explaining it all. Very cool.

A Garibaldi - the official California salt water fish. Had to take a pic - even in low light.

My kids and their cousins enjoying the 15 minute program.

The University Park neighborhood is in the heart of the city and a good 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean - all this salt water had to be hauled in via trucks.

I also kept thinking: this reminds me of the Aquarium in Long Beach or the one in Monterey. Except that this is free.

Afterwards kids came up to touch the 11" thick Plexiglass and say "hi" to the divers.

There were several other displays but I thought the L.A. Zone was fairly unique: it gave the kids a chance to see how people as well as plants and animals survive and often thrive in a urban environment like Los Angeles.

There was an enormous, HUGE map on the floor - stretching from LAX and the Marina del Rey all the way to the inland empire. My nieces and nephew were able to find their house near USC.

My son and his cousin doing a faux news broadcast.

TV monitor, the whole bit.

Lots and lots of displays all over the museum. We've been there dozens of times and there always seems to be something new.

The five cousins.

My in-laws lived a mile northwest of USC for 15+ years, so our kids have been going to Science Center with their cousins since they were little, and have many great memories.

WIth us now out of the area, and their family heading overseas, this visit was bitter sweet. Really, the end of an era.
Here's their website:

Parking is $8 in the adjacent structure. Admission is free, although there is a suggested donation of $5.

© 2011



Anonymous said...

OK, this is really free?? wow!

David from L.A. said...

Donations are gladly accepted, but it's really free - and worth a trip, esp if you have children (or neices/nephews, grandkids, etc)

Anonymous said...

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