The best places to visit in Southern California for kids who love dinosaurs.
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Did you know there are TWO national dinosaur days? May 15th and June 1st. And, May 20th is International Dinosaur Day. So, sometime in May or June, if you have a little dinosaur lover in Southern California, you need to check out one of these places!
If you aren't planning to be in the area soon, keep these ideas in mind for your next trip (or better yet pin the article!) There are some virtual options too, in addition to the Jurassic Quest Drive Thru Experience which may be coming to an area near you.
I have personally been to most of these, as I have two aspiring paleontologists at my house. My oldest son's dream is to bring the dinosaurs back!
This Museum is OPEN now! If you have a fossil hunter in your family, you have got to show them the real deal! There are 20 mounted skeletons in the Hall of Dinosaurs, including not one, but three T-rexes, including a baby! The enormity of these bones are astounding. We visited the exhibit when D1 was just shy of turning 3. He was completely obsessed with dinosaurs and could name almost all of the prehistoric creatures he saw. (He actually could name over 50 dinosaurs from pictures before he was 2.5.) They also have a really cool lab where you can watch real paleontologists working with fossils. Click here for more information. Don't worry, if your kids are more kinesthetic learners the next museum is for you!
The Discovery Cube is re-opening May 28th, just in time for summer. We went to The Cube a few years ago and it is full of hands on learning! I'm not sure if they will have the indoor animatronic dinosaur exhibit that was there when we visited, but their outdoor exhibit is primed for adventurers. You can walk into the belly of an Argentinosaurus, see a life-size model of a T-rex skeleton and participate in a Dino Quest scavenger hunt. There's also tunnels to crawl through which were a hit with my boys. Of course the other exhibits are equally educational and fun too.
The OC Discovery Cube will be hosting day camps for grades K-2 this summer. From The beginning of July to the beginning of August, the camps will be dinosaur themed! Not in the OC area? The Discovery Cube has virtual camps too! Check out the virtual schedule here.
If you're an 80's baby, you saw these massive roadside dinosaurs in Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure. Off the interstate 10, in Cabazon, stand the 65 foot tall T Rex and Dinny, a 150 foot long dinosaur modeled after a Brontosaurus (which I believe is now called an Apatosaurus.) Yes, you can go inside the dinosaurs! Though they have been at the location over 30 years, the current owners have recently upped their game creating an outdoor trail lined with dinosaur statues. (Some may be animatronic, I only actually saw 2 dinosaurs move when we visited.) I think they have also been painting seasonal clothes on the dinos!
One cute thing they have included is a small sand area where kids can search for rocks with dinosaurs names. If they find one, they can take it to the gift shop and get a small prize.
A really cool Wafflesaurus Ice Cream Truck visits on the weekend as well. We haven't had the ice cream from the truck, but we have had it from their store in the Galleria at Tyler in Riverside. My kids were thrilled to eat dinosaur waffle cones. TIP: Have them put it in a cup for little ones!
I haven't been to this educational activity center, but I have heard awesome reviews. This is an indoor dinosaur playland where you can learn too! Their website boasts animatronic dinosaurs, dinosaur bounce houses, and even rides. This looks like an amazing place for birthday parties if mommy can follow the boys around with hand sanitizer. 😄 Parties can be booked for dates starting June 1st and beyond.
If you are looking to get out in the great outdoors, I highly recommend this Discovery Center. It is currently open Saturday and Sundays. When I was pregnant with Baby Dragon, we took a hike on the 9 acres and had a blast finding all 20 of the dinosaur sculptures. (Don't worry, I made it in my third trimester with a large baby, so you know its not too treacherous.) The museum on the mountain hasn't had its grand re-opening yet, but it looks like its going to be worth the wait. They are also offering a zoom summer camp, learn more about it here.
If your kids are fascinated by fossils, the LA Brea Tar Pits have prehistoric fossils from the the ice age. Not only are they on display, but they are actively excavating them! Yes, in the city of Los Angeles! This was on my family's to-do list in 2020. Now that the museum is back open, I hope we will be able to visit in 2021.
Outside of Socal? Jurassic Quest: Another must-do experience is the Jurassic Quest Drive Thru. We got to check out these ginormous life-like dinosaurs when it was traveling through Southern California, but if you live on the Midwest or Northeast, the dinosaurs are on their way to you! You can still get tickets now. Read my review here. I've also got tips on creating a dinosaur day in that article!
Have a Dino-riffic, Roarsome Dinosaur Day!
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