Discovery Science Center

Look for the big black cube to find a place where science engages both mind and body. 

The Discovery Science Center (DSC) in Santa Ana is designed for kids, but adults will enjoy its 120 interactive exhibits. Almost all spheres of science are explored, from physics and physiology in the hockey exhibit to seismology in the Shake Shack. DSC covers 59,000-square-feet (5,500-square-meters) of exhibition space.

For an immersive experience try one of the experiential simulators. Feel the power of a hurricane by standing in a wind machine. Push a button and launch a rocket engine into space. Journey through the belly of a dinosaur for a lesson in digestion.

At the Planetary Research Station, watch images of historic storms and earthquakes projected onto a six-foot (1.8-meter) high globe. The science behind recycling is explored in the Eco Challenge exhibit. Pick up your digital shopping cart in the simulated grocery store and learn how to choose food with the greenest packaging. Sort household trash and find out how well you can identify recyclable rubbish.

The DSC’s best-known feature is the 108-foot (33-meter) tall black cube balanced on one point. The building’s south side is covered in solar panels, which generate ten percent of its electricity. Inside, the cube houses the facility’s most popular exhibit: the Boeing Rocket Lab. Kids will delight in seeing a real Delta Rocket RS-68 Booster Engine hanging from the roof. Experience what a real launch feels like thanks to blasts of fog, sound effects and imagery.

The DSC hosts temporary exhibitions as well as permanent displays. A rotating schedule of short movies also plays in the Discovery Theater. (There’s a small admission fee on top of the general admission.)

Each year, more than 450,000 people visit the DSC, including school field trips as well as tourists. Buy your tickets online to avoid the lines at the ticket box. Patience is required at exhibit lines inside if your visit happens to coincide with touring school groups.

The DSC is located in central Santa Ana. It’s accessible by public bus and onsite parking is available for a fee. The centre is open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.