Guide To Sacramento’s Discovery Museum Science & Space Center

April 4, 2014 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Children are naturally curious, and helping them explore the beauty and mystery of the world around them is a joyful experience. The Discovery Museum Science and Space Center is the perfect destination for families, particularly for those with children from ages five to early teens. Pique their interest in science with fascinating activities, special programs and one-of-a-kind experiences in everything from archeology, nature and the human body to space travel, robotics and the possibilities with the vast solar system.
Discovery Museum Science & Space Center
3615 Auburn Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95821
(916) 808-3942

The Discovery Museum is an eye-opening and ever-changing experience for kids and adults in the Sacramento region. Among the Center’s most popular permanent exhibits are the region’s only public planetarium, a robotics lab and the Challenger Learning Center, the latter allowing children to assume the roles of scientists, astronauts and engineers in simulated NASA space missions.

For those who grew up wanting to be an astronaut, the Challenger Center is a dream come true. The simulated missions include exploratory trips to the moon and to Mars, with participants assuming roles inside the spacecraft and in mission control. Another such mission simulates a trip into the solar system in search of Halley’s Comet.

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Nature Discovery Room

The Nature Discovery Room lets children learn about mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, invertebrates and fish with fun activities and interactive programs. The museum grounds also include a 14-acre wooded area for families to walk through and explore, and even features a delightful butterfly garden.


The highly regarded planetarium has special age-specific programs for school groups, but also offers exciting 20-minute presentations to the public. Planetarium shows are not just about things visible to scientists; visitors learn how to spy celestial bodies in this part of California with the naked eye and hear about breaking news and current events in the astronomy field.


Budding Indiana Joneses will really dig the archaeology experiences at Discovery Museum, where teams of children learn scientific and field methods as they search for evidence of fictional civilizations in Sacramento’s past.

Special Exhibits

Special exhibits at Discovery rotate twice a year. Different programs welcome visitors to fly high into the solar system, investigate forest flora and fauna, learn about the structure of the human body and dig into the past paleontology-style with fossils, rocks and dinosaurs. These interactive, hands-on activities allow adults and children the chance to get involved in a very real way.

A new program called “Meet a Scientist Weekend” begins on April 26-27, 2014, and gives visitors the opportunity to meet and work with researchers, graduate students, engineers and other science professionals. The museum is training the group of scientists in how to break down complex concepts into easy-to-understand pieces and how to present those ideas to people in creative, interactive and entertaining ways. Different scientists will be featured on each day, and children can earn prizes and a “passport to science.”

Where to Eat

4343 Madison Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95842
(916) 332-0108

Learning about the world can inspire a powerful appetite, and there are many nearby options to keep the kids fueled up. If the weather is appropriate, guests can bring a picnic lunch or snacks to nibble on at picnic tables in the outdoor nature area. Or visit one of the nearby kid-friendly eateries, such as Brookfields Restaurant or Don Quixote’s Mexican Grill, located at 2648 Watt Avenue. Both offer reasonably priced, filling and yummy food for the whole family.

The museum is open every day except Monday; hours vary by the time of year so check first before heading out. School groups are often at the Center on field trips earlier in the day, so waiting until mid-afternoon may be the best time to visit on weekdays.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at