Southern California Museum Tour

Southern California is home to some of the most beautiful and unique museums in the world. We all know about LACMA and The Getty, but what about more specific museums? From interactive science centers to art galleries to film history centers, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for an educational activity for kids or a fun and interesting way to explore art, this Southern California museum tour offers something for everyone. From hands-on exhibits to historical collections, you’re sure to find something that fits your interests. So, let’s explore of some of the best and most unusual museums in the area that are great for art and kids. 

Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum 

Antique red car inside the Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum
Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum Source: Yelp

Located in El Segundo, California, the Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum is a great place for adults and kids alike. Visitors can enjoy unique exhibits and experiences, such as the replica ’20s-era car that visitors can drive around the museum. Kids will love the interactive driving simulator and the miniature racetrack. 

The museum offers plenty of interactive activities, including model car races and hands-on experiences that allow visitors to build and test their own models. The museum also has a number of interactive displays that explain the mechanics of a car and its history. There are also artifacts from the early days of cars and many vintage vehicles to explore. 

The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 pm – 4 pm and admission is $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, and $5 for children 10 and up, with children under 10 granted free admission. With so much to explore, the Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum is sure to be a hit with both kids and adults alike. 

USC Pacific Asia Museum 

Looking into the gallery at USC Pacific Asia Museum
USC Pacific Asia Museum Source: Yelp

Located in Pasadena, the USC Pacific Asia Museum is a great place to explore art and culture from throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands. This museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the art, history, and culture of this vast region. At the museum, visitors can explore rotating exhibitions, which feature works from all over the Eastern world. These exhibitions often include traditional works as well as modern pieces, giving visitors an exciting glimpse into beautiful, ancient, and historic cultures. Additionally, the museum offers lectures, workshops, and other educational programs that provide a deeper insight into the world of Asian and Pacific Islander art. 

The museum is open from Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Entry to the museum is free for members, USC faculty, students, staff, and children aged 17 and under, while general admission for adults is $10. The second Sunday of every month is FREE for all visitors! For more information about the USC Pacific Asia Museum, be sure to visit their website. 

California African American Museum 

Looking into gallery at the California African American Museum
California African American Museum Source: Yelp

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, the California African American Museum (CAAM) is a great destination for those looking to experience art and culture from the African American perspective. It has been around since 1984 and is one of the largest African American Museums in the United States.  

At CAAM, you can find an array of exhibitions ranging from fine art to interactive displays, so there’s something for everyone. It is especially a great place for families, as many exhibits are designed to be engaging for both adults and children. Permanent collections feature work from African American artists from around the world, and rotating exhibits explore different themes. The museum also hosts a variety of special events, so check out its calendar for upcoming activities, lectures, and interactive exhibits.  

CAAM is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 am – 5 pm. Admission is free; however, donations are appreciated. So, if you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to check out the California African American Museum to learn more about this important and historical cultural center! 

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures 

Dorthy's shoes from the movie Wizard of Oz on display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Dorthy’s Shoes from the Movie Wizard of Oz on Display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Source: Yelp

What Southern California Museum Tour would be complete without an homage to the silver screen? The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles is a unique and entertaining way to experience the history, science, and impact of filmmaking. This museum celebrates the contributions of actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers from the earliest days of motion pictures to present-day Hollywood. Visitors to the Academy Museum will enjoy interactive exhibits, lectures, screenings, and other events that explore the art and science of moviemaking. Highlights include a replica of a vintage 1940s theater, movie memorabilia, artifacts from classic films, and audio-visual presentations. 

Another highlight of the museum is the Edward M. Lasker Special Effects Collection. Here visitors can explore the techniques used to bring cinematic wonders to life. Other popular attractions include the Hal Roach Studios History Room, which displays original props, costumes, and sets from some of the most iconic films of all time.  

The museum also has a dedicated area for children, complete with an interactive animation studio and hands-on activities. The museum also offers a variety of educational programs for families and kids of all ages. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is open 7 days a week, 10 am to 6 pm Sunday through Thursday and 10 am to 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Admission fees range from $15-25 per person depending on age and what discounts are available. 

The New Children’s Museum 

Artistic indoor playground inside The New Children's Museum
The New Children’s Museum Source: Yelp

The New Children’s Museum in San Diego is a great place to explore art and culture through fun interactive experiences. With a variety of creative activities and installations, this museum offers something for everyone! Kids will have a blast playing in the “Discovery Garden,” exploring an outdoor environment filled with imaginative sculptures and games. Inside, they can also enjoy hands-on activities, including “Create It” — an art-making space where visitors of all ages can use a variety of materials to express themselves. Additionally, the museum frequently hosts special events, like story times and workshops.  

The museum is open every day but Tuesday from 9 am – 4 pm and tickets range in price between $15-20, with children under one year of age given free admission. The Museum offers discounts for military families and free admission for members of their Free Family Program. With a variety of exciting experiences on offer, it’s no wonder that this unique museum is one of Southern California’s most beloved destinations! 

Balboa Park Museums 

Located in San Diego, CA, Balboa Park is home to over 20 museums and cultural attractions. From art galleries and science centers, Balboa Park offers something for everyone. Here are a few highlights but be sure to set aside plenty of time to explore all that Balboa Park has to offer. 

San Diego Museum of Art 

The San Diego Museum of Art houses more than 20,000 works from diverse cultures and time periods, including masterpieces from European painters such as El Greco, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Gainsborough. The museum also hosts a variety of special exhibitions and events throughout the year. 

Mingei International Museum 

Another must-see museum in Balboa Park is the Mingei International Museum. This museum celebrates the beauty and craftsmanship of traditional art from all over the world, featuring works from Asia, Africa, and the Americas. There are rotating exhibitions as well as educational programs and workshops for kids.  

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center 

If you’re looking for a more hands-on experience, check out the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. This interactive science center has over 100 interactive exhibits, plus live presentations and IMAX movies. Kids can explore the physics of flight or delve into the world of robotics, while adults can learn about space exploration and Earth sciences. 

San Diego Air & Space Museum 

The San Diego Air & Space Museum showcases aviation history, with an impressive collection of aircrafts and artifacts spanning the dawn of flight to modern day. There are also rotating exhibitions, an outdoor observation area, and regular events like aerobatic performances and lectures. 

San Diego History Center 

Those interested in history will enjoy the San Diego History Center, which traces the city’s past through photographs, documents, and artifacts. The center also features two interactive kiosks, so visitors can learn about San Diego’s unique past. 

Timken Museum of Art 

The Timken Museum of Art is one of the jewels of Balboa Park. This small museum houses a world-class collection of European old masters and 19th century American paintings. Highlights include works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Monet, Degas, Cassatt, and Sargent.