Downey is a city named after an Irish immigrant, John Gately Downey, who later became a Governor of California. Downey is home to the world’s oldest McDonald’s and is the city that made important contributions to our nation’s Apollo Space Program. You’ll find a variety of family-friendly activities here.
Columbia Memorial Space Center
12400 Columbia Way, Downey, CA 90242
The Columbia Memorial Space Center is designed to be hands-on and interactive so that kids are curious and excited about science and space exploration. Additionally, the Space Center aims to preserve Downey’s place in history as playing an important part in aerospace engineering. Every Apollo Command Module was designed and assembled on the site the Space Center now occupies. The Space Center also includes the only Los Angeles-area Challenger Learning Center as well as a Robotics Lab. The Columbia Memorial Space Center also hosts periodic Saturday Science events, family nights, and other special events. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday (be sure to check the website for occasional changes in hours). Adults and children 4 and older are $5 each; children 3 and younger are free.
Dennis the Menace Park
9125 Arrington Ave., Downey, CA 90240
The Dennis the Menace Park is a popular spot for picnics and birthday parties. It includes a playground designed for children 5-12 years old. There are also lots of grassy areas, picnic tables, and barbecues (available first come, first served).
Downtown Downey Farmers’ Market
11039 Downey Avenue, Downey, CA 90241
Each Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, families can stroll and shop at the Downtown Downey Farmers’ Market. At this Certified Market, families will find a variety of fruits and vegetables, plants and flowers, and more.
10999 Little Lake Rd., Downey, CA 90241
This park includes a playground for children aged 2-12, two lakes (where fishing is allowed), a walking/jogging path, and many large grassy areas. Kids will enjoy looking for (and feeding) the ducks. There is a fee for parking (and information about it can be found online).
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The World’s Oldest McDonald’s
Historic Speedee McDonald’s
10207 Lakewood Blvd., Downey, CA 90240
This location isn’t like the McDonald’s you’re used to. This historic site first opened in 1953. This location serves items from the original menu as well as some “newer additions” such as Happy Meals. And this is the only location where the apple pies are deep-fried (other locations bake them). You’ll find employees wearing 50’s-style uniforms including paper hats and white shirts. Order at the walk-up window, eat outside, and don’t forget to check out the museum and gift shop.
Downey History Center
12540 Rives Ave., Downey, CA 90241
If you’re interested in the history of Downey, then make plans to stop by the Downey History Center. There are a variety of artifacts, publications, photos, and more that help convey the story of Downey and trace its evolution over the years. The center has limited hours (10:00 am to 2:00 pm Wednesday and Thursday and also the 3rd Saturday of each month).
Porto’s Bakery and Cafe
8233 Firestone Blvd., Downey, CA 90241
Don’t be surprised to find lines out the door (though most people agree, the line moves pretty quickly). You’ll be tempted by the many sweet treats and baked goods, the cafe offerings, and Cuban specialities.
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Downey Civic Theatre
8435 Firestone Blvd., Downey, CA 90241
The Downey Civic Theatre is the home of a variety of performances, including dance performances, theatre, and musical performances featuring the Downey Symphony. Check their website for upcoming events.
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