Despite its name, The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum is not located in San Diego. It is found a 45-minute drive north of the city tucked away across from a public park in Escondido.
Although the location in the title may be misleading, the rest of its self-describing title is not. Inside the museum children will discover and learn new and interesting things. There are always new and interesting activities and events happening at the museum and they very frequently offer free admission to military and first responder families. They participate in Blue Start Museums and are free to military families all summer, and they also have times during the year where they extend the offer of free admission. For instance, they are currently offering free admission to military families now until April 15, 2018. Just show your valid military ID at the entrance. When the museum is not running a special general admissions is $8 a person and $5 for military and dependents.
The Museum itself is not very large, but it is jam packed with activity areas. It is made up of one large indoor open space filled with play structures and play stations, and an outdoor open space with shade cover that has several activity stations. Inside there is a gated enclosure where little ones can climb and play with activity cubes and boards on the walls and floor. There are several play stations where children can play pretend in a home, market, or medical clinic setting. There are several tables out in the open with blocks or air vents that shoot balls or handkerchiefs into the air. Outside there are tables filled with soapy water and wands to make bubbles, a large multilevel water table filled with Legos, and a raised plat
form loaded with extra large foam blocks. On the periphery there is a small workshop where art classes are hosted and a small animal encounter enclosure where all the animal interactions take place. There is a daily meet-and-greet with chickens (11:30am and 2:30pm daily) and Farm Animal Friday on the last Friday of every month. A different farm animal is featured each month.
As mentioned the museum is not in the city. You will have to drive to Escondido to find it. The museum has a small dedicated parking lot that is free, but it fills up fast. There is a small overflow parking lot behind the museum near the school and free public parking across the street in front of the park. I personally prefer to avoid parking in front of the park as there are frequent loiterers and sketchy elements to it that don’t feel very comfortable when loading and unloading little children. Although I have parked in front of the park, I often drive a few loops around the museum parking lots until something opens up to avoid it.
There are bathrooms with change tables as well as a dedicated family bathroom with a change table in it. There is no food service at the museum, but the gift shop carries a small variety of healthy snacks and there is hot coffee for free or by suggested donation behind the ticket counter. What we do, and what we have seen many other parents at the museum do as well, is pack a meal or snacks and sit down at the tables inside or the picnic tables outside. There are high chairs at the facility. The museum is a peanut free facility so whatever you bring to leave out peanuts and peanut butter.
The gift shop is small but it is packed with fun and educational children’s products. I always prepare to spend a bit of money on something I haven’t previously planned to but. I always find a few things there that I feel like I must have! If you like eco-friendly and recycled material toys and uncommon children’s educational books you may want to set aside a little in your budget to get something from the shop while you are there.
Always check the website to see what special things they have going on. You may want to plan what day you go based on what is happening. We particularly enjoy going on Farm Animal Friday, but you and your little ones may enjoy the Sensory Friendly Mornings, the Music and Movement Program, or something else on offer. If you have heard of the museums before and have thought about going or this is the first time you have heard, take advantage of the current special and see it for free until April 15. It is the perfect Spring Break activity with babies, toddlers, and/or school aged children.