LA's only children's museum
Zimmer Children’s Museum located on Museum Row, features hands-on exhibits and programs to explore BIG IDEAS of global citizenship, community responsibility and cultural sensitivity through interactive learning and creative self-expression.
The Zimmer Children's Museum is a hidden gem for little kids. While the Zimmer Children's Museum was Founded by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, it's a blast for Gentile Christian kids as well.
Less museum than it is hands-on imaginative play area, one of the highlights was the full-sized ambulance. Kids eagerly waited for their turn to put on a firefighter's protective hat and sit behind the steering wheel. We took advantage of a free Grandparents' Thursday to take our then almost 2-year old. I think she could have played all day.
She loved shopping for groceries in a little store, playing cashier to ring up kids' orders, setting a table with life-like play food, pulling up a seat at the counter at a make believe deli, sitting in the cockpit of a real airplane and various other activities. Her imagination was drawn out a bit by the trio of friends, ages 2-6, we went with. She sang excitedly as she opened and closed doors and spun wheels on the "Wheels on the Bus" exhibit and pretended to visit the doctor.
She was a little too small to feel at home in the pool of balls next to a giant rescue raft, but that didn't stop her bigger friends from jumping in and pretending to go for a swim.
While the musem does have Jewish themes, they didn't matter to our little non-Jewish girl. In fact, we as Christians encouraged her to explore the torah scroll in a make believe synagogue and visit a "Wailing Wall" set up for kids to write out their prayers. When she is older, they will make excellent opportunities for us to teach her about the connections between our faiths.
Before we left, she eagerly donned a cow costume and props on a stage and sang for live cameras.
On the negative side, there wasn't much supervision, so you need to keep a good eye on your kids. Also, sometimes kids left a few play areas in disarray (they are supposed to clean up after themselves, but there isn't really anyone to enforce this other than parents). Also, apart from a vending machine, there isn't really any sort of place to eat, so you'll need to pack some snacks (which the kids can't eat in the play areas). Finally, you'll have to pass through a metal detector and have bags examined as you enter.
All in all, it was a good experience. I think most kids 2-5 would love it. I just wish we lived closer, so we could make this a more regular activity.
Important side-note, the museum isn't visible from the street -- it's inside of the Jewish Federation Building. Free parking was full when we arrived, so we had to find street parking a couple of small blocks away.
The Zimmer Children’s Museum is a fun, interactive children’s museum. Although the museum is not massive in size, my girls just LOVED playing here and could have spent anywhere from 2-5 hours inside. It is almost entirely based on role-playing and fostering imagination, so the museum suits younger kids under 8 just perfectly.
The entrance level offers kids the chance to hop in the pilot’s seat of an airplane at the Discovery Airport, and perform their hearts out on the Mann Theater stage. This performance stage is really adorable: kids have a beautiful stage with props, costumes, scenery changes, backdrops, and even live cameras so they can see themselves in action. Plenty of raised seating gives grown-ups a perfect place to watch the show.
The lower level features most of the exhibits along with "Main Street," where my girls could have played for days. This area hosts a bookstore, corner market (with groceries & cash register), a house, a bagel shop, synagogue, and VIP lounge where the littlest of visitors (2 and under) can bounce and hop around in a very safe environment. This section is primarily used for role-play, and let me tell you, kids LOVE it. There were plenty of seats along the back wall for observation, or you could hop in with the kids and play with them!
In the community park, you can check out birds, bugs, and lots of animal puzzles on the wall. A fun, interactive school bus lets kids act out the “Wheels on the Bus” song; my two-year-old loved this.
My kids' favorite section was Mark Taper Foundation Aid & Rescue Center. Here we acted out an ambulance rescue, doctor’s office visit, and even a water based rescue area complete with ball-pit water and rescue vests. It was very fun to watch the kid’s imagination take over as they “swam” through the waters of this exhibit.
Tips for visiting the Zimmer:
* Strollers are not allowed and must be parked at the entrance.
* Snacks are only allowed in the snack room, and must be brought from home (there is no café or restaurant)
* Check out their V.I.B. mornings where babies can enter the Zimmer before the older kids take over.
* Grandparents visit with grandkids for free every Thursday!
* Parking is free, but the lot can fill up quickly. We had to find street parking a few blocks away.
Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the Zimmer Children’s museum for the purpose of this review. I was not required to state any particular view; all opinions are my own.