San Diego County is chock full of great family activities, some of which cost a pretty penny and require considerable planning. I, myself, am partial to free activities and am a sucker for a beautiful garden. Wandering through Fallbrook, an agricultural community in Northern San Diego, we stumbled upon Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens and Nursery. Located in a shady spot, on a picturesque drive, it's a great place to stop and spend an hour or two, or more.
The buildings on the property are old, in California terms, and represent some of the early architectural methods and history of the area. The big red barn was built near the end of the 1800's and is a lovely sight, nestled near the creek and surrounded by gardens. Old farm equipment can be found throughout the property and we had quite a time trying to figure out what they were once used for. Tours are offered by appointment only and I found myself wishing we had planned ahead to schedule one
Besides having lush gardens and interesting buildings, one of the more quirky and delightful aspects of Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens is their goat rescue efforts. Happy Goat Mountain Rescue Goat Habitat is by far the coolest goat habitat I have ever seen, not that I've seen many, or any, for that matter. With goat bridges and perches, and even an old farm truck for the goats to climb, it's one heck of a goat playground. Entering and feeding the animals costs a few dollars but the money goes back into their rescue efforts.
Cafe Bloom offers organic farm to table food and Myrtle Berry pie and lemonade, the specialties of the kitchen. On the weekends the cafe dishes out some delicious smelling crepes. Lunch can be eaten on the patio, or, a really fun option for a family with antsy toddlers or for a romantic date, picnic baskets can be ordered to enjoy on the property.
They regularly offer events and a daily Mini-Merry Garden Workshop. More information can be found on the website. Do check the site or call before heading out, as it states they sometimes close for bad weather. Myrtle Creek is a nursery as well, with a large variety of plants and garden essentials. There are also lots of interesting products in the gift shop. They are open Wednesday through Monday from 10am to 5pm
Cost-General Admission $19.95
Seniors (62+) $17.95
Children (Ages 3 – 12) $9.95
Children under 3 Free
If the brilliant blue skies and warm winter sunshine aren't enough to encourage a trip to Palm Springs, perhaps one of the more interesting zoos in SoCal will do it. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a must do for our family whenever we find ourselves in the area. It isn't just a typical zoo, but also a nature preserve, protecting over 1,000 acres of Sonoran Desert. Not only are there many diverse and interesting animal exhibits, but there are nature trails for hiking and loads of learning opportunities for young and old naturalists and conservationists alike. There is even something for those more mechanically-minded; a large and detailed G-scale model railroad.
The African animals on exhibit at the zoo are very popular and include cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, leopards, hyenas, and let's not forget the warthogs and meerkats. This is just a small number of residents in this section. An African village, Village WaTuTu, is located next to the Petting Kraal, or petting zoo, for those that desire a closer inspection of the tamer, smaller animals.
Among the North American exhibits are the jaguar, Mexican wolf, golden eagle and the local bighorn sheep, plus many more. For gardening fans this is the area to head to. Besides the unsurprising, middle of the desert, cactus garden, expect to find a varying and interesting number of gardens including a sage garden, upper Colorado desert garden and a Baja oasis garden, just to name a few. There are over 75 botanical gardens throughout the property.
The opportunities to learn about the animals and this zoo's conservation efforts are many. Throughout the day 'Chats' are held at various locations and exhibits to talk about the different animals and programs. Be sure to get a schedule for these interesting opportunities to learn more in depth about some of the residents. Giraffe feeding is always a highlight and on the day we visited there was a young newcomer to admire. The Mojave Desert Tortoise was out for a Chat on the day of our visit as well.
The Tennity Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center is located at the zoo and open to visitors. On occasion some of the recovering patients are on view with information on how or why they are being treated. Many of the animals are locals injured in some way and brought to the hospital for treatment to be returned to the wild if possible. The staff also provides tours and talks. There is a Discovery Center for hands on learning and a new shady play area to give smaller ones a break from the stroller.
The Living Zoo and Desert is open from 9am-5pm from October to the end of May. Summer hours are reduced significantly, 8am-1pm, for good reason. It's incredibly hot during the summer months, not suitable for children or animals to be out. The best time to go is winter or early spring. There is a paved stroller and wheelchair accessible path through most of the zoo, although some of the hiking trails are dirt. Don't forget sunscreen when visiting and check the weather for uncomfortably high temperatures before venturing out.
Kids-yes, older elementary age and up or those with a particular interest in cars
I won't pretend to know anything about cars. But, even I can tell that this museum has one heck of a collection of Maseratis. The Riverside International Auto Museum is a private collection of a father and son, Ray and Doug Magnon, racing enthusiasts and car collectors, who opened their collection to the public. Sadly, Doug Magnon passed away recently but the collection endures.
The racing history of the cars and drivers featured in this museum revolve around the Riverside International Raceway. The raceway hosted Grand Prix style racing from 1957-1988, when it was torn down to make way for a shopping mall. Much of the history of the RIR can be found in the Museum, which boasts a library of periodicals, video clips, photos and memorabilia.
Now for you car enthusiasts out there this is where I begin to sound like a total ditz. I know very little about cars and can not do this museum justice but I'm going to try to describe some of their impressive collection. Forgive me if I occasionally throw in the word "pretty" or "shiny" here and there. I love to hear that roar of an engine that you feel down in your gut as much as anyone, but it was as quiet as a, well, museum, in the place. Upon entering the front door we were met with an impressive AAR Eagle race car. There are several out on the floor. (For more info on any of the cars check their website where details on many of the cars can be found.)
They have the largest collection of Maserati road cars in the US, according to their website, and I believe it.
My personal favorites were the MG and the Riley with the suicide doors. But let's not forget the beautiful Jaguars and the Packard. Remember to check out their website and blog for more detailed information on the cars and racing history.
The museum has very little hands on activities for toddlers. Also at this point in time they are ONLY open on Fridays. The location is a little tricky to find as it is in the middle of an industrial type complex, but not far off the 215 Freeway. It's definitely worth a visit.
Riverside International Auto Museum
Kids-yes, elementary age and up
For those honoring the fallen this Memorial Day I can't think of a better way than reminding ourselves of the great sacrifices made and contemplate, or learn, a little history
Everyone has seen images of the great Lincoln Memorial either in person or on TV or in pictures. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC was dedicated on this day, May 30, in 1922. Not as many know or have seen the shrine in Redlands. The Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands, CA was conceived by Mr. Robert Watchorn, a self-made immigrant. At eleven years old Robert Watchorn began his career as a coal miner in England, working long hours for pennies, until he emigrated. Following Lincoln's example of education and hard work he became a wealthy man, giving much back to the community. As a great admirer of President Lincoln, when Watchorn acquired the means he began collecting books and artifacts from Lincoln's presidency.
Later he was to share this passion with his only surviving son. His son fought in World War I, returning home a hero and earning a commendation. However, the poor conditions took a toll on his health and Mr. Watchorn's son was to pass away at the age of twenty-five. As both a memorial to his son and to show his deep love for his adopted country and the admiration for Lincoln he shared with his son the Lincoln Shrine was born.
The Lincoln Shrine is a beautiful little museum dedicated to teaching us about Abraham Lincoln and The Civil War. Here you can find many of Lincoln's writings, as well as letters and writings from other notables, such as Sherman. Other interesting artifacts include a cannonball, medical instruments of the time, and a tambourine.
A timeline running across the top of the room gives a thorough overview of the war from beginning to end. Also included in the exhibit is information on the assassination of Lincoln. Find a poster from the play as well as photos of the presidential funeral.
Bring your smart phone. QR codes can be found all around to gather more information on many subjects. For students studying the period this little museum is a great resource. The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is open from 1-5pm, Tuesday-Sunday and closed Monday. Group tours can be scheduled in the mornings by calling. There is no cost to visit this beautiful shrine. They only ask for donations.
Across the park from the shrine is the A.K. Smiley Library, a lovely building full of stained glass windows. This is a city library and unless you live inside the city limits they charge a yearly fee to use their services. I recommend a stroll through the building to admire the windows and lovely architecture while visiting.
Kids-yes, particularly older elementary and above
Cost-$6/person, cash or check only
Although I used GPS when I drove to this museum I still passed it. The entrance shares a gate with a peculiar school, which I assumed, wrongly as it turns out, must be one of the Claremont Colleges I hadn't heard of. The Webb Schools are something you don't run into often on the west coast, an exclusive boarding school for high school students. On second look the museum name was on the sign, but as it is a long mouthful of a name, The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, it had second billing in much smaller letters. I felt like a trespasser, going through the big iron gates onto a hushed campus. With a security guard up ahead, I figured he would let me know if I was in the wrong place. I was not.
The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology is the only accredited museum on the campus of a secondary school. I have to think that not many high schools offer advanced coursework into paleontology. Raymond M. Alf was a teacher who discovered, along with a student, a 15 million year old peccary skull out in the Mojave Desert in 1939. The paleontology bug hit and Alf and his students began hunting, collecting, and studying fossils and bones. So much so that they ended up with a world renowned collection that could no longer be housed in the school's storage. The history of how this museum began is interesting, but completely overshadowed and forgotten once you get lost in the impressive collection, which stands alone.
The museum has two halls, an upper level and a lower level. The upper, The Hall of Life, follows time from oldest to more "modern" time in a circular room. The four eras of time include Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic. Here you can see a giant slab of sandstone that perfectly preserved tracks of reptiles in Arizona 275 million years ago and fossilized Paleozoic sea creatures.
The Mesozoic section, age of the Dinosaurs, is really impressive. A skull of a previously unknown duck billed dinosaur skull discovered by a volunteer in 2002 is just one of the mind-blowing things you'll find. A fossil of one of the earliest birds, complete with impression of feathers(!) is another. The Jurassic Allosaurus discovered in Utah dominates the room. A touch table is set up in this part of the museum where a few fossils are set out and available to be touched and looked at more closely. Of course most of the room is off limits for touching but the museum is making obvious efforts to include more hands on activities for kids and students. Throughout the upper level can be found many opportunities for interactive learning.
Downstairs, The Hall of Footprints, is better suited for smaller children with more hands on activities. The Alf Museum is most famous for it "trackway" collection, fossilized foot prints made millions of years ago. The lower level of the museum focuses on these trackways. Here you can also see a bear-dog, a huge prehistoric creature and it's fossilized prints. The information on how they put the bones, discovered in Colorado and Nebraska with the trackway, discovered by Alf and his students in the Mojave Desert was fascinating. Another trackway united with it's bones is an ancient camel. Don't forget to stop by the dig pit and find some fossils before heading out.
This small museum provides an unsurpassed educational opportunity for young and old. It's curated really well, in my very humble opinion. There is one flight of stairs but a place is marked to park strollers at the top. It's open from 8-4 Monday-Friday and on Saturday from 1-4. Remember that they take only cash or check, no credit or debit cards, unfortunately.
Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology
Cost-Adults $8, Students $6, Kids $4
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is hidden away above the Claremont Colleges and devoted entirely to native California plants. Southern California is naturally an arid place. Drought is usual, and native plants to us Californians is synonymous with water-wise, a subject on the minds and in the wallets of many of us these days. Putting all those terms together you might think that these Botanic Gardens would be a dull brown place, or full of cacti and succulents, but it is not. I found it verdant, full of trees, shade, and wildflowers, and very informative. Mostly, it was just fun
Indian Hill Mesa is where most begin their exploration. To reach the Mesa requires only a small uphill trail, which I would rate as very easy. On the Mesa are the majority of the "learning opportunities" (for those homeschoolers or people looking to upgrade their water-sucking lawns), I simply found it delightful. There is a gift shop, educational center, and restrooms. The Butterfly Pavilion is also found here. It is seasonal and costs 3$ extra but a great experience for kids. I found many butterflies just walking outside, especially in the Cultivar Garden, located nearby. Also a cool bird guide for identifying the many, many birds among the trees.
The Container Garden was of particular interest with the stories and gorgeous palo verde tree just humming with bees. These trees are currently in abundant bloom so if allergic to bees steer clear, although I walked under several and the bees found it much more attractive than myself. Also on the Mesa are two ponds, in one I found turtles sunning and in the other an unusual scarecrow(?). For those interested in sculpture there were some interesting pieces in the gardens.
Below the Mesa and taking up the majority of the 55 acres are the California Plant Communities centered around trees: California Fan Palms, Joshua Trees, Torrey Pines, Boojum Trees, Junipers, Bays, and The Majestic Oak. It's a bit of a hike, getting through all of the communities, but if you grab a map and follow the Community Loop Trail you can cut it down to 1 mile. Personally I never looked at the map and just followed every path I came across, thereby increasing the length of the hike excessively. I would still characterize it as an easy hike, whichever way you choose to go. The paths are clear and flat and mostly paved-great for strollers and wheelchairs.
Be sure to pick up a Calendar of Events while there, or check online. They have many community events, classes and workshops. On Wednesday evenings in June will be Butterflies & Brews, an adult only event featuring live music and evening access to the butterfly pavilion, and yes, beer. Sounds like date night. On June 4 is a class of particular interest to many of us SoCal residents; How to Replace Your Lawn. Check online for more info.
The Gardens are open daily from 8-5, except holidays. Bring water and comfy walking shoes. It seemed to me that whoever placed the benches walks through the place often. Every great shade tree had a bench perfectly placed to stop and contemplate the awesomeness of our great planet.
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Cost-Pricier than many of my recommends (see admission prices here). I suggest a yearly membership of $120 which gets your spouse and children in for free for one year. One visit isn't enough to truly explore this magnificent property and it is always expanding.
The Huntington consists of a museum, a research library and extensive botanical gardens and is located adjacent to Pasadena. I found it impossible to describe it in one blog post. The first of what will eventually be three articles on this fascinating location can be found in the April 2016 archives.
Henry Huntington, a railroad magnate, and his wife Arabella, were avid collectors of rare books as well as art and plants from around the world. Arriving at The Huntington for a visit, my first stop is usually to see the books on display. The research library, which has acquired a new magnificent building in the last decade, is not open to the public. A lucky few scholars, called readers, must get special permission to study the great array of rare and unusual books. For information on the Munger Research Facility check here or check out the online catalog. For the rest of us a very small portion of the library's rare books can be seen in the permanent exhibition hall.
On display are books, letters, handwritten manuscripts, some of the rarest, most valuable, most profound written words in the world. The Main Hall's 'Remarkable Works, Remarkable Times' exhibition holds treasures such as a beautifully calligraphed manuscript of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and a Book of Hours. The first book ever to be printed, The Guttenberg Bible, is on display, also find a rare elephant folio of Audubon's The Birds of America. In recent years interactive media has been added and listening to excerpts from some of the materials is a treat. Touch screen media adds to the experience, displaying, for example, the progression of printed books across the globe, or additional pages of a book. All books are protected behind glass and many of the original letters and hand written pieces have been replaced by facsimiles to protect the valuable originals. This caused some difficulty in acquiring decent photos-please forgive the occasional reflection. A small sacrifice to pay for the preservation of something so important.
The Dibner Hall of the History of Science, a newer part of the library exhibition, is fascinating as well as more interesting for children. Not only are valuable books and manuscripts of early scientists on display but there are also more interactive activities and large copies of interesting pages displayed on the walls. Walking into the Astronomy room produces oohs and aahs from kids and adults alike. Constellations look down on visitors and a replica of Galileo's telescope stands off to the side waiting to be peeked through. Ptolemy, Newton, Copernicus are just a few of the author/scientists waiting to be discovered in this section.
Following Astronomy is Natural History. The walls are covered with replicas of the drawings of plants and animals from books included in the exhibition. Replicas of microscopes used in the
seventeenth century are on display and can be looked through. Many of the naturalists books on display are equally works of art as they are works of science.
The same is true of the medical books. The detailed drawings of the pioneers of medicine are both beautiful and gruesome. Pop-up books have apparently been around for centuries and were a tool used to study medicine rather than an amusement for children. Check out the pages with moving parts and overlays. Look at stunning drawings of sixteenth century medical texts and use a touchscreen to magnify portions of the pages and admire the detail.
Light and Electricity contains works by Isaac Newton, Tesla, Descartes. Here can be found reproductions of experiments of light and a descriptive account of Ben Franklin's kite experiment.
Younger kids have a harder time getting through the library, as there is little for them to do and nothing is set at a height appropriate for little ones. Older kids interested in history, science or art will find much of interest in the exhibitions. When my kids were little I would reward them with hours spent in the gardens after the library. Nowadays there is the enchanting Children's Garden to sweeten the deal. Alternatively, wearing the kids out first by hiking through the gardens and checking out the library on the way back with a sleeping toddler in a stroller might be the way to go.
The Huntington is closed on Tuesdays and they have a free day on the first Thursday of the month. A reservation must be made online for the free day.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Kids-upper elementary and above
Cost-water-wise Discovery Garden & Gallery are free, Home tour is $15 adults, $10 students, $5 children. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online.
Sam Maloof, for those that don't know (I didn't) was a master woodworker and furniture maker. I'd seen and admired pieces in museums and in pictures without realizing that he was a local boy. He was one of the only craftsmen to receive a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, his work has been featured in museums, including the Smithsonian, and he's made chairs for a few lucky presidents. If you were savvy enough to have ordered one of his pieces when he was living you would have been on a waiting list for years before receiving your furniture. That is, unless you ordered a cradle-babies don't wait-and you'd be moved to the front of the queue.
His home was his showroom and it was built room by room for his wife and family as they required more space. All of the furniture inside was built by his own hands, as was the home itself. Back in the '90's, Maloof and his first wife, Alberta, formed a foundation for arts and crafts. They were both strong supporters of other artists, both well-known and local artists. Their very unique home, a showplace for their collections as well as Maloof's workshop and showroom was endangered by the expansion of the 210 freeway. It was directly in the path. The only reasonable solution was to move the house, piece by piece, easier because it was built that way, to another, similar property, where it was destined to become a museum.
The new site, similar in size to the previous, has ample space for a botanic garden, which was designed by Maloof's widow and second wife, Beverly. She is still living on the property in a separate home. The garden is water-wise and drought tolerant, and very lovely. Currently it is filled with sculpture from local California artists which will be on display May 1-October 29, 2016.
It was a very sad and difficult time for me as I walked through the incredible home on the docent-led tour unable to take any pictures. No photography is allowed inside. It is absolutely unique and awe inspiring and the only way to see it is to go. While there pay particular attention to the doors and the carved handles and clever locks. They're amazing and impossible to describe. I was able to photograph some of the beautiful furniture inside the gallery, and I did my best to get some good shots of Maloof's masterful and self-taught joinery.
My tour was the day before the Sculpture in the Garden show began but several pieces had already been installed. I still ended up with tons of photos on my iPhone despite being unable to take photos inside. Just keep in mind that the interior of the home is the real star of the show.
The home is currently open only on Thursday and Saturday for tours. A reservation is highly recommended and can be made online. There is plenty of space for strollers in the garden. The home is set up like a home-art on the tables and floors, as well as on the walls. Carry as little with you as possible as they require you to lock up purses and bags before you go in. It's not a good environment for small children with the urge to touch things.
Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts
Part 1 The Gardens
Cost-Pricier than many of my recommends (see admission prices here). I suggest a yearly membership of $120 which gets your spouse and children in for free for one year. One visit isn't enough to truly explore this magnificent property and it is always expanding.
If you have never heard of The Huntington you are not alone, but you have probably seen bits and pieces of it in many, many movies, postcards, calendars, Pinterest boards, Flickr, etc... It's highly photographable, and deservedly so. It's one of my favorite places in SoCal and I feel I just can't do it justice in one post. The Huntington naturally divides into three separate entities, Library, Art Museum and Gardens, and so, three separate blog posts, the first of which-Gardens. It's a lot to take in. After dozens of visits I'm still overwhelmed with the beauty of the place and the ever evolving changes.
Just driving into the parking lot I feel I've stepped into another world. Trees shade much of the lot, and despite the crowds of people it's hushed, except for the birds. It used to be that I'd walk down an avenue of flowering trees to get to the main entrance, but those trees are gone now, replaced by a new building, shop, cafe, and field of wildflowers. While the flowers are stunning I do miss the trees. I'll discuss in a future post the research library near the entrance where qualified scholars can study the rare books on the premises. If you are a bibliophile like me you will want to visit the books on display for the public.
The mansion turned art museum was originally the home of Henry Huntington and his wife. Huntington was a powerful railroad magnate, but he and his wife were also collectors of rare books and art and a lover of gardens. The Botanical Gardens cover 120 acres and contain plants from around the globe. The gardens are always expanding and changing, most recently, besides the new entrance, they've added a stunning Chinese Garden that continues to grow and change.
I know I'll forget a garden (they are divided by region) and that I've missed getting pictures from one or another. Its spring and I went where the blooms took me. Normally I go in March when the wisteria is so dense in the Japanese Garden that the beauty almost makes you cry. I missed the wisteria this year, but April is a time for roses and the display in the Rose Garden is brilliant.
The Desert Garden is always a surprise. It's expanded over the years. When it blooms-wow. Its almost like visiting another planet. Cacti and succulents aren't everyone's cup of tea-they weren't mine-but walking through this garden just might change a few minds. It's incredible.
Continuing down the hill are the Lily Ponds, a great place for small children to check out the frogs and ducks and run on the grass or sit under the incredible trees. Continuing up is the Subtropical Garden. The Japanese Garden must have been photographed many millions of times over. It's a stunning vista. I, myself, must have hundreds of photos, before kids, with my babies in strollers, school kids staring in wonder at the goldfish, my teenagers trying to act bored but not succeeding, and now on my own again. It's a special place no matter the stage of life or interests.
The Zen Garden is quiet and peaceful no matter how many people are passing through. A Bonsai Court has been expanded and includes the most amazing trees I have ever seen.
There is a Camilla Garden (not blooming at the time of my visit, unfortunately), an incredible Children's Garden where it is impossible not to wish yourself back into childhood, and a Conservatory for older kids to experience botanical science first hand.
I'll finish up with the Chinese Garden. No words can really do the place justice. Such care and thought have been put into the design, it's truly a work of art.
There is plenty of space for strollers, and it's a lot of walking so be prepared. There are two tea houses on the premises, English and Chinese. You'll need a reservation for the English tea, but no reservation to grab something from the cafe behind it, or for the Chinese tea house. The Huntington is closed on Tuesdays and they have a free day on the first Thursday of the month. A reservation must be made online for the free day.
The Huntington Library and Art Museum
Santa Ana, CA
Cost- $13 Adults, $10 Kids, Under 12 free Regular admission
$25 Adults, $21 Students, $11 kids and under 3 Free for Mummy special exhibit (includes general admission)
I wasn't going to do another museum post this week, but grandma has come to visit and we've been on a whirlwind museum tour. I love museums and we have so many great ones out here in SoCal-I haven't even started on the many in San Diego. I will try to get outside soon.
This week's feature museum is the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. They are currently having a fantastic exhibition, Mummies of the World, that I highly recommend. It runs until September 5th. If you have the opportunity to visit this summer try to make the time. It costs a little extra but includes an audio tour and is really interesting. I was particularly fascinated with the shrunken heads and how they were formed. Many of the mummies were naturally occurring and as well preserved as Egyptian mummies (there were a couple of those too). Unfortunately no photography is allowed in the exhibit so no mummy pictures. Be sure to make the trip and check it out for yourself. It's a really great exhibition.
Ancient Arts of China: A 5000 Year Legacy was our next stop. Wow. Gorgeous. We spent a good hour and a half wandering this gallery, where, thankfully, photography is allowed. The urge to whip out my iPhone to snap some photos was overwhelming at this point. If you follow Exploresocalifornia on Instagram you may have already seen some of my photos from the Bowers Museum. Hint, hint.
Next up, Spirits and Headhunters: Art of the Pacific Islands. This tied in nicely with the Mummies of the World special exhibit. Gruesome at times, yes, but fascinating. And some of the art was breathtaking. Seeing a decorative fork only used for the eating of human flesh was shocking, I admit. But the artistry in much of the stone and wood carvings is incredible.
Unfortunately the hall containing California paintings was closed for renovation but the First Californians and Ceramics of Western Mexico hall was open. Great to visit for those 4th grade social studies reports.
Included in the admission price is a Kidseum two blocks south of the main museum. If you have little ones the good news is you can do some hands on kid stuff too. It's described as an "interactive children's museum and learning center" and an extension of the Bowers Museum. There is also a restaurant on the premises. It smelled great but we didn't have time to grab a bite.
Some of the places we visited this week included; The Huntington Library (my personal favorite), The Getty, Norton Simon, and finally The Bowers Museum. It's amazing to me still that I live in a place where I can visit a fantastic museum every day of the week if I desire, and still have plenty that I haven't seen yet. Balboa Park in San Diego contains more than a dozen museums alone! Not to mention all the stunning beaches along our coastline and national and regional parks. Don't forget that this week, April 16-24 2016, is National Park Week! All fees are waived at our many National Parks.
Bowers Museum is closed on Mondays!