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New Children’s Museum San Diego

Best Museums In San Diego For Kids

The New Children’s Museum of San Diego honored

There are museums in San Diego for every interest, whether you have a passion for history, art, or nature. Most of them are family-friendly, but some really go above and beyond when it comes to exhibits and programming for children.

In this post, Ill share some of my favorite childrens museums in San Diego County that blend education with fun. The options include some traditional museums, as well as some hands-on discovery spaces specifically for younger learners.

Please check each museums calendar for opening hours and information before you go in todays changing world. Right now, all museums on this list are temporarily closed but they do have some pretty amazing virtual programming for kids, classrooms, scout programs, and even adults.

For when the time comes, hopefully, my suggestions will make your next family vacation to San Diego an amazing experience for the teens, tweens, kids, and toddlers in your crew.

You can save on tickets, tours, and hotels through my affiliations. If you make purchases through the links in this post, I may be compensated.

Birch Aquarium At Scripps

Location: La JollaAddress: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037

Birch Aquarium at Scripps showcases the research of the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego through over 60 aquarium habitats, hands-on exhibits, an outdoor playground, and even a touch tide pool.

Go for a raised awareness of how our actions impact the environment, marvel at the over 3000 sea animals in residence, and learn about some of the equipment scientists use at sea.

Its a must for any budding oceanographer. Dont forget your camera as views from Tide Pool Plaza over La Jolla Shores Beach are breathtaking.

At-home resources: Birch Aquariums opportunities for virtual learning are far too long to list but check out its after school programs, virtual camps, educational crafts, or even watch the fish swim around thanks to the Kelp Cam.

Location Tickets And Parking

The New Childrens Museum is located in downtown San Diego, near Seaport Village, the San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park. Address is 200 W Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101.

Infants who have not yet reached their first birthday are free to enter the museum. Admission for everyone age 1 and over is $10.

Visiting during October? During the fall season Kids Free October promotion in San Diego, two kids get free admission with each paid adult. Check the NCM website for times when the museum opens on the day of your visit.

Parking is $10, located in a garage under the museum. There is also metered parking on the street. Public transportation is another good way to get there. The trolley stops just a short way from the museum entrance.

If youre looking for more to do in the area with the kids, check out this walking tour of downtown San Diego.

Don’t Miss: Philadelphia Museum Of Art Posters

Go City: San Diego All

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San Diego Model Railroad Museum

The New Children

Location: Balboa ParkAddress: 1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Another gem in Balboa Park, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is a must-see for families with kids who are obsessed with trains.

There are over 27,000 square feet of amazingly detailed model train layouts complete with full towns and farms, tiny carnivals, and more making this the biggest scale Model Railroad Museum in the whole United States.

At-home resources: Theres no better place to learn about how to build a model railroad. Theyve designed a virtual program for families who are up for the task, in addition to online crafts and videos.

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Best Museums For Children In San Diego

Not every San Diego museum on this list is solely a childrens museum, but all of them are kid-friendly. You will visit to enjoy the exhibits, but I encourage you to use these insitutions as educational resources year-round whether youre a resident or a tourist.

They also offer summer camps, science courses, offsite excursions, and many more opportunities to expose kids to history, culture, arts, and the environment.

Join their email newsletter lists to stay up-to-date. If you have questions about any of these places, feel free to leave me a comment, and Ill reply.

Dining At The New Childrens Museum

Editors note: Dining is not currently available inside the New Childrens Museum. Theres seating outside for guests who wish to eat but youll need to bring your own food.

On the first floor there is a Bean Sprouts Cafe and lounge for dining, outdoor patio and a nursing area. Outside food is allowed but must be eaten in this lounge area. We usually bring in our own snacks and drinks and enjoy them mid-day. Bean Sprouts offers healthy clean eating options that are truly kid-friendly and fun.

There are also many local restaurants within walking distance of the museum. Just ask the front desk for a San Diego restaurant recommendation. Some of the restaurants offer a discount if you show your museum ticket.

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San Diego Natural History Museum

Location: Balboa ParkAddress: 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Known to locals as the NAT, this is one of the best museums in San Diego and a favorite of local and visiting kids.

Whats so great about this museum is that children of all ages will get something out of it. Weve been visiting through my daughters entire life. I can tell you first-hand that you can enjoy and learn something new with each visit.

We love saying hello to Al , completing the scavenger hunts in Fossil Mysteries, watching the Foucault Pendulum swing, and learning about Southern Californias unique habitats.

Ive actually had a chance to go behind the scenes at theNAT to see some of the over 8 million specimens in their collection and to find out more about how scientists design the museums exhibits. Its fascinating yet important work they do for our community.

See also: Local Kids Guide to the San Diego Natural History Museum

Tip: Its tempting to visit the Balboa Park museums and San Diego Zoo on the same day because theyre next door to each other. Split the visits into two days, if you can, because its otherwise a long day for small kids .

At-home resources: theNAT has always offered a robust list of activities for families to be citizen scientists outside of the museum. Check for ways to find nature in your backyard, learn about our region, find lesson plans, and find activities at home.

The New Childrens Museum In San Diego

San Diego New Children’s Museum Review

The New Childrens Museum is a multi-story complex in downtown San Diego. The building is three stories tall with activities for all ages throughout. Enter on the middle floor with both stair and elevator access to upper and lower levels. Tall glass windows offer a view of the palm tree lined court yard outside.

The New Childrens Museum is ever-evolving. What was on exhibit during one visit may change by the next visit. Keep that in mind while reading this review what we saw might not be there when you go.

Also Check: North Carolina Museum Of History

Exploration That Encourages Movement

Because of the changing nature of this museum, art installations come and go in this creative space. Many of them encourage active play, so dress your kiddos in comfy clothes and a pair of socks some spaces require kids to take off their shoes. There are cubes for storing the footwear. Your kids are going to get sweaty from climbing and running around.

The newest installation on the upper level is called Whammock! Its an interactive textile playground. Resembling a large, colorful knit hammock, there are places to climb inside, nesting cocoons and pendulums to swing from.

What kid doesnt love jumping? The 30-foot inflatable rainbow-striped tunnel encourages bouncing. When the lower level opens with a new art installation in summer 2021, it will feature a thrilling story-long slide!

During Museum Month You Can Visit More Than 45 Museums Throughout San Diego County Including The New Children’s Museum Downtown

The Museum Month pass is a hot commodity in San Diego County right now.

This is our 33rd year of Museum Month. This is the biggest of its kind in the country, where all the museums get together and offer half price admission,” said Bob Lehman, executive director of the San Diego Museum Council.

Lehman said Museum Month passes were available at all Macys stores and at more than 75 libraries across the county.

Speaking of the county, Lehman told KPBS that there are more museums here than most people know.

“Theyre all over San Diego. We go all the way up to Oceanside, all the way down to Chula Vista and National City and all the way out to Barona,” he said.

And all the way down to downtown San Diego, where, at 200 West Island Ave., you find The New Childrens Museum. It’s a 50,000-square-foot space where different kinds of art meet children 12 and under, and the takeaway for them is multidimensional.

We are a new model of childrens museum, said Kerri Fox, the deputy director.

Fox went on to describe the museum’s mission and how it works. We commission contemporary artists to create full scale room-sized art installations that children can touch and play in and on and immerse themselves in. So, were a little different,” Fox said.

Related: Over 45 San Diego County museums discount tickets during Museum Month

Everything in the museum, all the art, is aimed at reaching children on many levels.

Read Also: Houston Museum Of Natural Science Hours

The New Childrens Museum

Location: Downtown San DiegoAddress: 200 W Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

If youre starting to see a pattern of great kid-friendly museums giving children lots of opportunities to learn through creative play, youre right.

The New Childrens Museum is another one of the best museums in San Diego for kids because it makes learning and sharpening critical thinking skills so much fun. This museum is known for its ever-changing exhibits.

Theres a room filled with mattresses where kids can jump and crawl as much as they want, the Sketch Aquarium where fish you draw on paper come alive in a huge digital aquarium, and even the art on display can be touched and played with.

Tip: This San Diego museum is located near many of the downtown San Diego hotels. If you stay in this popular part of town, its easy to include this childrens museum on a busy itinerary.

At-home resources: Virtual art experiences detail what the exhibits are about so that you can appreciate them even more when they reopen. They also offer online educator resources, online craft tutorials, and other downloads.

What Transportation And Access Is Available

10 San Diego Museums You Need to See (2021 Updates)
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We love NCM!

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  • Best venue ever.

    The New Children’s Museum’s reply:

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  • A little imagination goes a long way!

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    The New Children’s Museum’s reply:

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    Places In The Museum For Toddlers

    There are multiple areas within The New Childrens Museum that are reserved just for toddlers. Tikitiko is just for under 3-year-olds and their caregivers. This tot studio features ultra soft nesting spots for youngsters to gather and play.

    The longstanding Wobbleland on the main level is an adorable soft play area for kids under 4 years. It appears like the kids are in a giant stainless steel sink. Check out the pouring water fountain and soft-play fruits and vegetables like the rocking-horse avocado and a sailboat watermelon.

    In addition, watch for Toddler Time special events that happen throughout the day at the museum. During our recent visit, youngest guests were dancing with silks to a sing-along with museum employees.

    Living Coast Discovery Center

    Location: Chula VistaAddress: 1000 Gunpowder Point Dr, Chula Vista, CA 91910

    The Living Coast Discovery Center is a museum that I feel is often overlooked. Its located in the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge about 15 minutes south of Downtown.

    Theyre a zoo, aquarium, and museum all wrapped into one that teaches kids about the local flora and fauna in our coastal environment and why its important to care for it.

    You can get up-close with raptors and rays in the exhibits and by booking animal encounters. I also recommend walking the trails around the museum for pretty bay views and to spot plenty of local birds.

    At-home resources: Virtual programming includes online animal encounters for birthdays, classrooms, and every day fun. You can also download coloring sheets, get craft ideas, watch wildlife webinars and more.

    Also Check: Are Dc Museums Open On Sunday

    Get Times Of San Diego Daily By Email

    Reed Vickerman, the museums interim executive director, praised the agreement and said the institution is proud to invest in our employees and acknowledge their contributions to the museum and San Diegos children.

    The contract puts the employees of the arts-based childrens museum among the ranks of a growing number of museum workers nationwide who are unionizing, including at the SFMOMA in San Francisco, the Solomon R. Guggenheim and the Childrens Museum of the Arts in New York, the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    We love our work, and we are proud to serve the museums mission with passion and dedication. Our goal throughout this process has been to create a sustainable future, said Jill Grant, the lead worker representative in bargaining. This contract makes significant progress toward that goal and we hope our successful negotiation inspires other museum workers to unionize.

    About The New Children’s Museum

    The New Children’s Museum reopens

    The New Children’s Museum is an arts-based children’s museum in downtown San Diego, California, whose mission is to “stimulate imagination, creativity and critical thinking in children and families through inventive and engaging experiences with contemporary art”. The Museum commissions contemporary artists to create room-sized art installations for children to interact with and explore. The Museum has collaborated with hundreds of artists since opening in 2008. The Museum is housed in a dynamic space designed by visionary and award-winning architect Rob Wellington Quigley and is one of the first green museums in California.

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    The New Childrens Museum Is Hands On

    On the other end of the patio is the clay studio. Everyone is encouraged to take a chunk of clay and some tools to work at the low tables. Creations are set in the sun to dry and can be taken home.

    Before coming to the New Childrens Museum check the website for facilitated workshop dates and times. There are projects for all ages. The Innovators Lab is a Makerspace for older kids to work with local artists and experts. Summer camps are often available.

    With all this messy play there are places to clean up. Look for large sinks with soap and towels both indoors and out. There are also plenty of bathrooms in the museum, including family-sized bathrooms with diaper changing stations.

    Outdoor Entertainment At The New Childrens Museum

    Just in front of the museum entrance, the Museum Park hosts outdoor play for kids. This includes small ride-on vehicles, water painting and climbing play cubes and soft mats on the grass. A mini playground includes a swing set and butterfly garden.

    For parents, theres plenty of seating outside along the concrete walls and grassy spots for kids to run. Bring a snack and dine at one of the outdoor patio tables in the shade.

    Also Check: Salvador Dali Museum San Francisco

    The New Children’s Museum

    The New Children’s Museum is an arts-based children’s museum in downtown San Diego, California, whose mission is to “stimulate imagination, creativity and critical thinking in children and families through inventive and engaging experiences with contemporary art”. The Museum commissions contemporary artists to create room-sized art installations for children to interact with and explore. The Museum has collaborated with hundreds of artists since opening in 2008. The Museum is housed in a dynamic space designed by visionary and award-winning architect Rob Wellington Quigley and is one of the first green museums in California.

    Th Annual Mass Creativity Day

    The New Children

    A free outdoor festival of art, creativity and community in the Museum Park and MuseumSaturday, June 25, 2022 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

    The New Childrens Museum is hosting its 10th annual Mass Creativity Day, a celebration of art, creativity and community with live performances, family-friendly art-making activities, food and free admission to the Museum all day.

    Mass Creativity Day will include performances by Teye Sa Thiosanne African Drum and Dance Company, , , Alyce Smith Cooper, and TranscenDANCE. Other activities include face painting, a music class for toddlers facilitated by the San Diego Youth Symphony, drawing classes and live portrait drawing by Scarlett Baily, a reading of “Karens Heart” by author Georgeanne Irvine , and appearances by Joyride Bookshop and Fern Street Circus in the Museum Park. Island Avenue in front of the Museum will be closed to traffic for the festivities.

    Mass Creativity Day is the culminating event of the Museums signature Mass Creativity outreach program that held free art-making workshops at seven different community centers throughout San Diego County from April to June. The participating community organizations include Barrio Logan College Institute, Casa Familiar, City Height Weingart Library, Skyline Hills Library, The San Diego LGBT Center, Solutions for Change and SBCS .

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