The Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park is one of the best places for kids in San Diego.
The Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park has two floors of activities, and will keep your kids occupied for hours. An IMAX film is included in the ticket price.
The main floor has cool, hands-on experiments geared towards kids, a virtual reality transporter, IMAX theater, and an Innovation Gallery with KEVA planks, blocks, and lego.
Upstairs there's a play city for kids under five, and fun exhibits on San Diego's electricity and water supply.
The Fleet Science Center is at 1875 El Prado Balboa Park. Check admission & hours.
10 best attractions at Fleet Science Center
1. Find lots of cool, hands-on experiments in the Main Gallery.
The first floor at the Fleet Science Center has a 6,700 square foot Main Gallery with hands-on experiments for kids. These exhibits are a fun way to explore concepts like gravity, electricity and magnetism.
2. Take a ride in the Pulseworks Virtual Reality Transporter.
The Pulseworks Virtual Reality Transporter is adjacent to the Main Gallery. Take a space walk at the International Space Station, blast off on Apollo II on a flight to the moon, and explore prehistoric marine life (requires an additional ticket).
3. Build something in the Innovation Gallery
The Innovation Gallery is also on the first floor of the Fleet Science Center. It has lots of wooden blocks, lego, and KEVA planks. Kids can sit at workstations and build castles, houses, bridges or whatever takes their fancy! Let your budding architect run wild.
4. Tackle a new building project in Studio X.
The Studio X area has a new building project each day, and there's also digital design with 3D printing.
5. Engage your senses in the IMAX Theater.
The IMAX Dome Theater is also on the first floor, with movies included in the ticket price to the Fleet Science Center. The theater also doubles as a planetarium.
6. Take kids under age 5 to a special play area at Kid City.
There's a ton of fun stuff on the mezzanine level at the Fleet Science Center.
Parents with toddlers or kids aged under five can hang out at Kid City. This brightly colored play area has a street layout with a fire truck, car, grocery story, and factory. The factory has a conveyer belt to put plastic food on, that can be winched up in a basket to the upper level. Kid City also a ball wall with chutes and tracks, and a computer play area.
There's also an infant area with soft toys for the littlest kids.
7. Learn about how San Diego's power grid works at Power Play.
Kid City is next to the Power Play San Diego exhibit. This exhibit demonstrates how San Diego's power grid works. Walk through a fluorescent tunnel and see the power grid light up.
8. Discover how San Diego's water system works, at the Water Exhibit.
San Diego's Water Exhibit covers similar ground, explaining how water is captured and delivered to homes.
9. Visit the cool temporary exhibits.
There are also some temporary exhibits upstairs. The Pause/Play Exhibit runs through September 2, 2019 and is a big playground. It features a ballpit (pictured), 31-foot slide, musical hopscotch with illuminated squares to activate, and a merry-go-round. Check to see what temporary exhibit is currently running.
10. Pick up something at the gift shop.
The awesome gift shop has STEM focused, fun toys and games for kids.
Know before you go
- Address: 1875 El Prado Balboa Park.
- Tickets and hours: check here.
- IMAX shows: check here.
- Planetarium shows: check here.
- Gift shop and cafe: yes.
- Parking: Free parking lot behind the Fleet Science Center building, along Space Theater Way.
Other fun things to do with kids in San Diego
- Balboa Park is also home to kid-friendly activities like the San Diego Zoo, The San Diego Model Railroad Museum, and Natural History Museum.
- Downtown San Diego has the Childrens Museum, and Waterfront Park with wading pool and playground.
- Northwest San Diego has Seaworld with a great play area for little kids and lots of rides.
- La Jolla has the popular Childrens Pool beach, perfect for wading and sandcastles, and the Birch Aquarium.