The California Science Center

  • 01 of 08

    California Science Center Overview

    California Science Center
    ••• California Science Center. Photo © 2011 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    I approach science museums like a five-year-old who has not yet learned to read, but likes to push all the buttons and pull all the levers to see what will happen. I'm too ADD to read all the explanations, but I'm all about using a pulley to lift a car or pedaling a bike to generate electricity, and the California Science Center is a great place to DO stuff.

    One of the top science museums in the country, the California Science Center at Exposition Park has interactive exhibits that appeal to both children and adults. Permanent exhibits focused on living things, inventions and aerospace are augmented with temporary exhibits on all manner of scientific subjects. The Science Center is one of the Top FREE Things to Do in LA. However, special exhibits may have a fee, which is sometimes quite high and can require an advance reservation.

    The California Science Center also has a 7-story IMAX Theater that screens multiple films each day. There is an additional fee for each IMAX movie.

    Calif...MOREornia Science Center
    Exposition Park
    39th Street & Figueroa Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90037
    (323) SCIENCE, (323) 724-3623
    Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day
    IMAX Schedule: (213) 744-7400
    Admission: Free; Fee for IMAX Theater, High Wire Bicycle, Motion-Based Simulator and some special exhibits
    Parking: For a fee in on-site lot
    Website: www.californiasciencecenter.org

    >California Science Center Overview
    Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit​ Science Plaza at California Science Center
    Inside the California Science Center
    Space Shuttle Endeavor
    Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center
    Food and Amenities at the California Science Center
    Tips for Visiting the California Science Center
    Guide to Exposition Park

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit

    The A-12 Blackbird aircraft at the California Science Center
    ••• The A-12 Blackbird aircraft at the California Science Center in Exposition Park in Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2011 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    The A-12 Blackbird training plane at the California Science Center is one of several aircraft in the park surrounding the museum. As the only trainer of this model, it has two cockpits for the pilot and trainer. Other planes outside include an F-20 Tigershark, a Northrop T-38 Talon. 

    Indoors you'll also find a replica of the Wright Brothers' 1902 glider plane and Velie Monocoupe 70, one of the first planes built for private pilots in the 1920s.

    More Los Angeles Air and Space Museums

    California Science Center Overview
    >Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit​ Science Plaza at California Science Center
    Inside the California Science Center
    Space Shuttle Endeavor
    Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center
    Food and Amenities at the California Science Center
    Tips for Visiting the California Science Center
    Guide to Exposition Park

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Science Plaza at California Science Center

    Aerial Sculpture by Larry Kirkland at the California Science Center
    ••• Aerial Sculpture by Larry Kirkland at the California Science Center. Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    The exhibits begin before you even enter the California Science Center. Artworks by Larry Kirkland in the Science Plaza include the paving stones, called Discovery Pavers, filled with science-related questions, riddles and quotes.

    The California Gate is a two piece sculpture that frames a space the shape of the state of California. It is engraved with images representing the exhibits inside the California Science Center.

    The DNA Bench is a large flower-shaped bench that makes a great spot to pause a moment to look up at Aerial, a spiral of over 1500 spheres suspended under a skylight in a pattern designed to evoke both a galaxy and being inside a chromosome.

    California Science Center Overview
    Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit​
    >Science Plaza at California Science Center
    Inside the California Science Center
    Space Shuttle Endeavor
    Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center
    Food and Amenities at the California Science Center
    Tips for Visiting the California Science Center
    Guide to Exposition Park

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Space Shuttle Endeavor

    Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center
    ••• Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center. Photo © 2012 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    In 2012, the decommissioned space shuttle, Endeavour, found a permanent home at the California Science Center. The Samuel Oschin Pavilion, the temporary facility that houses the shuttle, also has additional exhibits about the space program and its connection to Southern California. The space shuttles were built in nearby Palmdale and Downey, California. You can't touch or sit in the Endeavour, but there are lots of other related interactive exhibits.

    Endeavour was the final space shuttle to join the NASA fleet in 1992 after the Challenger explosion. It completed 25 missions into space, including the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in December 1993, and the first mission to add a U.S. component, the Unity Module, to the International Space Station.

    Free timed reservations are required to see the Endeavour on weekends, holidays or in high season unless you purchase tickets to an IMAX movie or Journey to Space, in which case Endeavour admission is included. On the...MORE reservation page, when you choose the Endeavour only ticket, it refers to it as a "show" ticket, even though it's not. There is a $2 service fee per online ticket.  You can also reserve in advance (not same day) by phone at (213) 744-2019 for a $3 fee.

    California Science Center Overview
    Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit​ Science Plaza at California Science Center
    >Inside the California Science Center
    Space Shuttle Endeavor
    Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center
    Food and Amenities at the California Science Center
    Tips for Visiting the California Science Center
    Guide to Exposition Park

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Inside the California Science Center

    Playing with Electricity at the California Science Center
    ••• Playing with Electricity at the California Science Center. Photo © 2016 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Aside from the Endeavor, permanent exhibits inside the California Science Center include:

    Creative World explores the inventions people have created from communications to transportation. Kids can run solar-powered cars along a track and learn about fuel cell technology, learn about ancient and modern technologies to transmit sound, and learn how buildings are created to be earthquake-safe.

    World of Life introduces the processes of life from the amoeba to how the human body works. The exhibit is broken down into five galleries, the Energy Factory, Supply Network, Control Center, Defense Line, and Life Source.

    Air and Space Exhibits include activities to learn about aerodynamics and aircraft, space, planets and how we study them.

    Ecosystems present the range of possibilities from islands, rivers and forests to the Extreme Zone and the Rot Room, where you can explore how stuff rots.

    Discovery Rooms - each themed exhibit has a Discovery Room where children 7 and under can find age-appropriate...MORE activities to explore the subject matter.

    California Science Center Overview
    Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit​ Science Plaza at California Science Center
    Inside the California Science Center
    Space Shuttle Endeavor
    Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center
    Food and Amenities at the California Science Center
    Tips for Visiting the California Science Center
    Guide to Exposition Park

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center

    Bike on a Wire at California Science Center
    ••• A teen rides a bike on a high wire at California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Science Court at the California Science Center is the huge natural light atrium at the center of the complex.

    In addition to special exhibits, you'll find the super-cool High Wire Bicycle, where for a couple bucks, you can test your nerve riding a counter-weighted bicycle across a high wire 3 stories above the ground.

    Other fee-based attractions in the Science Court are the Ecology Cliff climbing wall, and the Motion-Based Simulator.

    California Science Center Overview
    Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit​ Science Plaza at California Science Center
    Inside the California Science Center
    Space Shuttle Endeavor
    >Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center
    Food and Amenities at the California Science Center
    Tips for Visiting the California Science Center
    Guide to Exposition Park

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Food and Amenities at the California Science Center

    California Science Center
    ••• Two sisters make silly faces for the digital camera exhibit at the California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    The California Science Center's Trimana, includesthe Grill, with hot and cold menu items, the Market with prepackaged sandwiches and the Coffee Bar with coffee and sweets. There's also a Concession Stand at the IMAX theatre.

    ExploraStore is the Science Center's gift shop, featuring a wide array of science-related and educational toys and gifts.

    There is an ATM on the first floor near the information desk.

    The California Science Center is a fully wheelchair accessible facility.

    California Science Center Overview
    Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit​ Science Plaza at California Science Center
    Inside the California Science Center
    Space Shuttle Endeavor
    Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center
    >Food and Amenities at the California Science Center
    Tips for Visiting the California Science Center
    Guide to Exposition Park

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Tips for Visiting the California Science Center

    The giant echo tube in the Science Court at the California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA
    ••• The giant echo tube in the Science Court at the California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Weekday mornings are crowded with field trip visits, so go after 1:30 on weekdays or on weekends.

    The California Science Center is also crowded on the first Tuesday of the month when the next-door Natural History Museum is free.

    Check in to the Information Desk to pick up the day's schedule of events.

    To prep for your visit, let your kids spend some time on the California Science Center's online Big Lab.

    You could spend a whole day at the California Science Center, but if you're looking for something else to do for free in the neighborhood, you can visit the California African American Museum or the Exposition Park Rose Garden, both free.

    California Science Center Overview
    Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit​ Science Plaza at California Science Center
    Inside the California Science Center
    Space Shuttle Endeavor
    Science Court Atrium at the California Science Center
    Food and Amenities at the California Science Center
    >Tips for Visiting the California Science Center
    Guide to Exposition Park