Space Shuttle Endeavor arrives at the California Science Center soon and space exploration is on the minds of local and visiting space travel fans. Visitors to Los Angeles can see a variety of historical and futuristic space exhibitions and attractions within driving distance from LAX. California residents and visitors alike are rediscovering the state’s rich space-oriented past along with current places of interest that are helping charge the U.S. space program of tomorrow.
Let’s take a look at what California has to offer travelers interested in space-themed points of interest:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) (Pasadena) has played a major role in U.S. space exploration achievements and offers free two-hour tours of its Pasadena facility. Right now, NASA’s Mars Curiosity team is performing robotic arm tests in preparation for the rover to touch and examine its first Martian rock.
Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles) reopened in 2007 after a four-year, $93 million renovation. The 9,000-pound Zeiss Telescope can accommodate as many as 600 viewings per night, giving visitors an unmatched view of the moon and stars on a clear Los Angeles night.
Columbia Memorial Space Center (Downey) is the national memorial for the Space Shuttle Columbia’s seven crew members, lost in 2003 but also a hands-on learning center, dedicated to bringing the wonder and excitement of space science to children of all ages.
Discovery Museum Science & Space Center (Sacramento) is home to the Challenger Learning Center and houses an animal discovery room, nature trails, wildlife pond and Sacramento’s only public planetarium. Weekend activities include animal presentations for all ages, make and take crafts, and planetarium shows.Kidspace Children’s Museum (Pasadena) has more than two-dozen interactive exhibits designed for children from ages 1 to 10. At the Museum’s Gavin Physics Forest, kids can learn first hand about what it takes to get an object into space by creating mini-bottle rockets and study gravitational acceleration with the Ball Bounce exhibit.
Space Mountain– No list of California space attractions would be complete without Disneyland’s Space Mountain, the high-speed thrill ride that has hurtled visitors into the final fun frontier since 1977.
Flickr photo by Lance Cheung