Skip to Content

The California Science Center: Hands on Family Fun

Updated for 2021

Do your kids love to learn about the world around them? Trick question – of course they do! And we know you love to help them do that, all while getting out there and having fun. Museums are great fun for kids (and grown-ups), especially when playing and learning are combined, like at the CA Science Center.

The California Science Center is one of the most fun, kid-friendly museums in Los Angeles, and it’s one of the best Museums to take the whole family. This guide will tell you all you need to know: Location, Hours and the best Exhibits, both permanent and special ones.

There are plenty of things for kids to do, touch, and experience first-hand at the Science Center Los Angeles. All the exhibits encourage kids to ask questions and find out answers about “how” and “why” things are the way they are. And don’t miss seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavour while you’re there – or consider seeing an IMAX movie in their theater.

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037

(323) SCIENCE 

space suit at CA Science Center
Space Suit on display at California Science Center, photo by Paul Kennar

Table of Contents:

  • CA Science Center Tickets and Reservations
  • Science Center Hours
  • Admission Prices and Membership
  • Parking Info
  • Everything You Can Do at the Science Center
  • Where to Eat Nearby
  • Special Exhibits and Permanent Collection
  • Space Shuttle Endeavour Tickets and Information
  • IMAX Theater Tickets
  • Related: Best Kid-Friendly Museums in Los Angeles

Hours:

Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day).

Science Center Tickets, Prices, and Admission

  • Admission is FREE to the LA Science Center’s permanent exhibition galleries.
  • Timed-entry reservations are currently required for all guests, and can be made online or by phone.
  • Tickets for IMAX Movies range from $5 and up, can be bundled, and reserved ahead of time.
  • Special Exhibit Ticket prices range from $11.75 and up, and can be bundled, and reserved ahead of time.
  • Additional Attractions that require tickets include: the VR Transporter, the Motion-Based Simulator, the Flying Club Simulator, and the Endeavour Together Simulator. Prices range from $5 – $10 each.
  • There is a $3 service fee per online reservation.
  • Day-of reservations may be made on-site at the Box Office with no service fee; however, availability and your preferred entry time are not guaranteed. 
CA Science Center exterior public art installation
One of the cool things you can see at the CA Science Center, photo by Paul Kennar

Membership Levels and Prices

Membership at the California Science Center allows you to help support this terrific local Museum, and at the same time have greater access for you and your family. All Memberships are Family Memberships.

Member Benefits vary by level, but most include a set of free IMAX tickets, a set of free parking validations, discounts on additional IMAX tickets, Special Exhibits, and at the ExploreaStore Gift Shop. Benefits also include invitations to Members-Only events, and free or discounted admission to more than 350 Museums around the US via their reciprocal membership program. Some portion of your membership fee may be tax-deductible.

Explorer Member$85
Discoverer Member$175
Adventurer Member$375
Pioneer Member$575
Voyager Member$1000
Partners in Learning$1500 and above

Please visit the website to see all the benefits at each level, and get all the details. The California Science Center also accepts donations, which are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Easter Island head made of Legos on display at Art of the Brick at CA Science Center, photo by Paul Kennar
Easter Island head made of Legos on display at Art of the Brick at CA Science Center, photo by Paul Kennar

Parking at the CA Science Center

There are several parking structures and parking lots near the California Science Center, and in Exposition Park, and the cost ranges up to $15 per car – and can be higher. Free or less expensive street parking cannot be found close by, but if you’re willing to walk a long distance, you may find some. Always read the posted parking restriction signs.

As an alternative to driving and parking, you can take the Metro Expo Line to the Science Center instead, or choose to take the Bus or rideshare. The Expo Line train stops right in Exposition Park, a short walk from the entrance to the Science Center, where you’ll also be close to the Natural History Museum.

Dining Options at Science Center

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.

Wondering where to eat near the CA Science Center? There are many restaurants and cafés in the neighborhood surrounding the Science Center, if you’re prepared to walk a bit. Besides the Museums in Exposition Park, the area is home to the University of Southern California (USC), the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) Stadium, the Los Angeles Coliseum, and of the soon-to-be-opened Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

a kid plays with a Hands-on exhibit at the CA science Center
Hands-on exhibits for learning and fun, photo by Wendy Kennar

What Can you Do at the CA Science Center?

Permanent Exhibits at CA Science Center

The California Science Center is filled with hands-on learning experiences for kids of all ages, so whether you have a toddler in tow or a tween who prefers their screen, your kids will find something to enjoy. In fact, bringing your kids back again at different stages in their life will be a wonderful experience for you as a parent, as you see them grow and their abilities and interest change over time.

Kids can learn about Ecosystems, Air and Space, and the Science Center’s newest permanent exhibit, Life! Beginnings which “celebrates life’s incredible ability to make more 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.

Space Shuttle Endeavor at the CA Science Center
Space Shuttle Endeavor at the CA Science Center, photo by Paul Kennar

Space Shuttle Endeavour at Science Center Los Angeles

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.

IMAX Movies at LA Science Museum

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. Film schedules vary, so check the website for details. Currently showing: Born to Be Wild 3D, Hubble 3D, and Under the Sea 3D.

Yellow Lego Man, on display as part of the Art of the Brick at CA Science Center, photo by Paul Kennar
Yellow Lego Man, on display as part of the Art of the Brick at CA Science Center

Special Exhibits at LA Science Museum

Current Special Exhibitions at the California Science Center include:

The Art of the Brick

Artist Nathan Sawaya used LEGOs unlike anyone else in this, “the world’s largest display of LEGO art.” This inspiring exhibition includes some of Mr. Sawaya’s original sculptures as “re-imagined versions of some of the world’ most famous masterpieces, such as Michelangelo’s David, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.” Stand in awe of a 20-foot T. Rex, a seven-foot tall Easter Island Moai statue, and more. 

Additionally, visitors will view PERNiCiEM: The Endangered Species Connection created by LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya and photographer Dean West. This impressive display features “thirteen sculptures of the world’s most endangered species, including the humpback whale and lowland gorilla, each presented with a cinematic image of their natural environment.” 

COVID-19: All in This Together

This exhibit “shows how individual actions affect the community, and how science is sued to understand and combat the COFID-19 pandemic.” In addition to a timeline and photographs, guests can also view a display from the COVID Memorial Quilt – a powerful visual representation honoring the lives lost to this pandemic.

space shuttle endeavour external tank (photo by Wendy Kennar)
Space Shuttle Endeavour external tank, photo by Wendy Kennar

Mission 26: ET Comes Home:

Experience ET-94’s move to the California Science Center through engaging photographs captured by Gil Garcetti. The exhibition highlights moments of ET-94’s trip through the Panama Canal, its arrival in Marina del Rey, and its journey through the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood on the way to its new home.

Mission 26: The Big Endeavour:

Mission 26: The Big Endeavour features photographs of some of the spectacular scenes from space shuttle Endeavour’s flight over California and her 12-mile, 68-hour journey through city streets to its final destination in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center.

Nearby Attractions

The California Science Center is located within Exposition Park, where you’ll also find the California African American Museum, the Rose Garden, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Banc of California Stadium, and the Natural History Museum. And, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is scheduled to open in 2023.

The Science Center will generally have a “high traffic alert” on their homepage on days when special events are planned on or around Exposition Park, because game days can make traffic and parking extremely difficult.  

Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).

Space Capsule on display at CA Science Center
Space Capsule on display at CA Science Center, photo by Paul Kennar

MomsLA is your source for Things to do with Kids in Los Angeles.

Disclaimer: MomsLA has made every effort to confirm the information in this article; however, things can often change. Therefore, MomsLA makes no representations or warranties about the accuracy of the information published here. MomsLA strongly urges you to confirm any event details, like date, time, location, and admission, with the third party hosting the event. You assume the sole risk of relying on any of the information in our list. MomsLA is in no way responsible for any injuries or damages you sustain while attending any third party event posted on our website. Please read our Terms of Use which you have agreed to based on your continued use of this website. Some events have paid to be listed on MomsLA.

Family-Friendly Farms in Los Angeles and SoCal
← Previous
15 Things To Do In Redondo Beach With Kids
Next →