Guide to the California Science Center
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California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037
Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day)
The California Science Center has it all. Plenty of things for kids to do, touch, and experience first-hand. All the exhibits encourage kids to ask questions and find out answers about “how” and “why” things are the way they are. Kids can learn about Ecosystems, the Creative World, Air and Space, and the World of Life. The Air and Space exhibit includes capsules from the early days of the manned space program, replicas of satellites, as well as a space suit worn aboard the Apollo 16 mission.
The Science Center is also home to the space shuttle Endeavour as well as the planet’s only External Tank. Endeavour was the country’s newest space shuttle and completed twenty-five missions into space. Families will view artifacts from Endeavour including the tires from mission STS-134 (which guests can touch) as well as a “space potty.” The External Tank (ET) served as a “gas tank” for the space shuttle orbiter, helping to push it into orbit.
On site, families can also take advantage of enjoying an IMAX film on the seven-story screen. IMAX films are another way of bringing science to life and putting you right there in the middle of the action. Currently three different films are playing — Amazon Adventure 3D, Hurricane 3D, and Hubble 3D.
Visitors have until February 4, 2018 to view the Science Center’s Special Exhibit Body Worlds: Pulse. Families will view real human bodies in various stages of sickness and health. The exhibit includes “more than 200 plastinated specimens of real human bodies – including whole bodies, translucent slices, and organs.” The specimens provide “a glimpse into the human anatomy that was once only available to medical practitioners.” View a smoker’s black lung, hardened arteries, dancers suspended in motion, and much more. Because of the graphic nature of the exhibit, it is best to view the Family Guide before visiting to make sure the exhibit is appropriate for your child. The Science Center recommends the exhibit for children 12 years old and older. (My nine-year-old son and I visited the exhibit after looking at the guide together and deciding he was comfortable with the displays. What resonated the most with us is how alike all human beings are. We knew the gender of the specimens, but not their race, their native language, or their religion. And it didn’t matter, because inside, we’re all the same). Additional tickets are required to view Body Worlds.
Admission to the Science Center’s permanent exhibition galleries are free; however, there is a charge for IMAX shows as well as Special Exhibits. In addition, advance ticket sales (made online or by phone) for Endeavour Timed Reservations are $3 per ticket.
Several membership options are available to families. All membership levels include benefits for two adults and four children (age 17 and under). Each level of membership differs slightly but all include IMAX tickets, parking vouchers, discounts on special exhibit tickets, discounts at gift shops, and more.
Parking at the adjacent parking lot is $12 per car. However, the Science Center is conveniently located to the Metro Expo Line at the Expo Park/USC station.
The Science Center permits guests to bring their own food and enjoy eating outside or inside. However, the on-site dining options include the Trimana Grill, Market, and Coffee Bar. The Grill offers a large selection of hot and cold meals including salads, burritos, specialty sandwiches, hamburgers, and more. At Market, you’ll find pre-packaged sandwiches, salads, snacks, fruit, and bottled drinks. The Coffee Bar is the place for hot or cold coffee drinks, pastries, and ice cream.
The California Science Center is located within Exposition Park, where you’ll also find the California African American Museum, the Rose Garden, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and the Natural History Museum. (Click here to read our post “Exploring the Natural History Museum”). Be sure to check the Coliseum’s schedule before visiting the area, because game days can make traffic and parking extremely difficult.