Los Angeles has a rich history in aviation and aerospace with Southern California companies playing important roles in the development of air and space flight. So it's not surprising that the area is rich with air and space museums and attractions. Here are the best places to see historic and famous airplanes, helicopters, spacecraft and related artifacts, as well as places you can fly planes, helicopters, fighter jets or simulators.
Address700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037, USA
The air and space exhibits at the California Science Center range from the early history of flight with a 1902 Wright Brothers' Glider to the exploration of space and the planets. A highlight is the NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour.
California Science Center Visitors Guide
Address3100 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405-6140, USA
The Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport has nearly two dozen aircraft on display. There are also interpretive exhibits on the history of flight as well as the role of Southern California companies in the aviation and aerospace industry.
Address3315 Airport Dr, Torrance, CA 90505-6152, USA
The Western Museum of Flight at Zamperini Field in Torrance has a collection of predominantly military aircraft including restored planes, replicas, prototypes and models. They host various aviation-related lectures and events throughout the year.
Address6661 Imperial Hwy, Los Angeles, CA 90045, USA
Flight Path Learning Center and Museum in the LAX Imperial Terminal on the south side of LAX houses exhibits of airline memorabilia from uniforms to historic ads and promotional items including from now-defunct airlines, a massive collection of model planes, and a fully restored luxury DC-3 that you can board. The museum and parking are free.
Address961 W Alondra Blvd, Compton, CA 90220-3528, USA
Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM) is a museum in Compton with historic exhibits on the Tuskegee Airmen (the first all-African-American fighter squadron), historic planes and helicopters and simulators. The public museum is part of a larger aviation program for inner-city youth.
Address755 Aviation Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80916-2740, USA
The Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force is an all-volunteer non-profit that focuses on preserving historic combat aircraft from all branches of the US military. They operate the WWII Aviation Museum at Camarillo Airport north of Los Angeles. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, you can also watch volunteers working on the planes at the hangars.
Address4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109-8001, USA
Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena has been at the forefront of space exploration technology from rocket development to the Mars Rover program. JPL offers free tours for the general public once a week on alternating Mondays and Wednesdays with at least 3-week advance reservation.
Address12400 Columbia Way, Downey, CA 90242, USA
The Columbia Memorial Space Center is a hands-on learning center in Downey, south of Downtown LA, where Rockwell and then Boeing built NASA Orbiters. The Space Center is a tribute to the crew who dies in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. It is dedicated to bringing the wonder and excitement of science and innovation to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Exhibits include the Challenger Center Experience with a space simulator, the Apollo Boiler Plate 12, and the Robotics Lab.
Address40 Presidential Dr, Simi Valley, CA 93065, USA
Visitors to the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles, can go aboard the actual Air Force One plane that transported US presidents from 1973 to 2001. In the Air Force One Pavilion, you can also see the Marine One helicopter that flew President Johnson, and a selection of presidential limousines and motorcade vehicles.
Address18001 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda, CA 92886, USA
Army One at the Nixon Library was the helicopter used by Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. Visitors can climb aboard to see what it was like for the presidents to work out of this flying Oval Office.
Air Tours of Los Angeles
In addition to looking at lots of planes and helicopters at museums and attractions, you can take a helicopter or small plane tour of Los Angeles.
Address11022 Aviation Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045-6187, USA
Proud Bird Restaurant & Museum is located next to one of the runways at LAX and has a collection of historic planes as lawn decorations. You can watch planes flying in and out of LAX from the patio or dining room. The historic restaurant underwent a complete overhaul in 2017 and reopened as a modern upscale, down-home food court and lounge serving BBQ, soul food, fried chicken, gourmet pizza and a variety of salads. There's a plane suspended from the rafters, an interactive museum pod in the middle and a more themed exhibit of photos throughout the dining and special event areas. The patio has cozy fire pits, but bring your earplugs; inside has good soundproofing, but the runway action outside is loud!
Address1650 Sinclair St, Anaheim, CA 92806-5927, USA
At Flight Deck Air Combat Center you can test your skills on the same equipment that fighter pilots use to train in an authentic military flight simulation center. It is open to the public, with a minimum age of 11 and a minimum height of 41" tall. The center is also available for group events.
Los Angeles County Air Show
Address4555 W Ave G, Lancaster, CA 93536, USA
The Los Angeles County Air Show happens every March in Lancaster, CA in north Los Angeles County. It includes jet demonstrations, vintage aircraft, aerobatic stunts, warbirds and land-based interactive exhibits.
Address3898 Valhalla Dr, Burbank, CA 91505, USA
The Burbank Aviation Museum is a collection of artifacts on the history of aviation in Burbank that is looking for a home. In the meantime, they have an exhibit open Sundays from noon till 3 pm at The Portal of the Folded Wings, a shrine to aviation at the Valhalla Memorial Park just south of Bob Hope Burbank Airport. Twenty-four aviation pioneers are buried at the site.