One of our favorite local places to visit is definitely the Discovery Center. Every time we go it’s a completely different experience, and there are tons of things to do both inside and outside so the weather is never an issue! Today happened to be a particularly beautiful day (though a little chilly) so we spent a good deal of our time outside. We also have a family membership (totally worth it if you visit a few times a year) so I am perfectly happy to bring the kids for just a little and not worry about getting our “monies worth.”
Pack: sunscreen if it’s a nice day and a couple extra dollars for the snack bar.
Park: Small lot with free parking just south of the property. If that lots is full you can park along the street.
Cost: Park area is free. Museum- adults $6, children $8, seniors $5, children two and under are free!
Hours: Seven days a week (9am-5pm)
*Occasionally closed for special events – check website before your visit.
*Tip: You can visit the first Friday of the month for only $1 or bring a can of food and get in FREE!
1. The museum.
The indoor portion of the Discovery Center is the only part that requires admission, so you could come and enjoy a nice day out for free… BUT there are some really cool exhibits for the kids to play with and explore indoors that make the ticket price totally worth it! There have also been lots of changes and improvements to the museum. It is clear that the Discovery Center team cares about this special place and the children that visit.
The Market area is set up for kids to sort, weigh, and pretend to buy and sell toy fruits and vegetables.
Kids can pretend to perform surgery in the Kids Clinic with a giant Operation Game!
The staff at the Discovery Center is always ready to engage visitors by explaining the different exhibits and they often bring out different animals for the kids to get to see, feel, and discuss. Today we learned that this lizard’s “spikes” were actually quite soft and were just to scare away predators! K was a little frightened by the spikes but eventually pet Queen Elsa the lizard.
There is an entire room of reptiles, insects, and more to observe. You can see which of my children is into snakes… though she wouldn’t pet it when the team member was bringing the one pictured below around.
Throughout the museum there are exhibits for kids to experiment and discover. As the kids get older they will learn the scientific principles to explain what they are experiencing (and then they can explain it to me 😜) but for young kids like mine these exhibits plant the seeds of curiosity!2. The park.
Did I mention, IT’S FREE?!?! In the past two years there have been great improvements to the play area of the Discovery Center and it really is worth the visit on its own! There are three fantastic play structures that have something for kids of every age! There are also more exhibits to explore throughout the grounds… including a space shuttle!
3. Deutsch Cactus Garden.
Today was our first time walking through the garden. It was beautiful and made for some really cool photos! *Do be careful with your littles if you walk through… the cacti are right accessible from the path and they look seriously painful. I talked to the kids before we went in and reminded them throughout our stroll.*4. Dino Dig and Walden Pond.
So technically the Dino Dig is just a big sand box (for now), but the kids love it! The dinosaur paintings and sculptures throughout the area spark their imaginations and they could play here for hours. And, darling little Walden Pond with its turtles basking in the sun and minnows darting all around. There are also koi in part of the pond that the kids find pretty impressive. *Keep a close eye on the littles around the pond as they can fall in if they aren’t careful.*5. How to get your kids to leave!
If your kids are like mine they won’t want to go. If you are smart and prepared (unlike me), bring a snack to lure them to the car. Otherwise, do as I do and buy a bag of popcorn from the snack bar for a dollar and don’t give them any until they are in the car. The kids think the buttery popcorn is the greatest and they are content the whole ride home! Win/win! *Tip: Buy one bag but ask them to split it between two bags (or however many you need). Less waste and less mess in the car!