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7 Best Interactive Museums and Art Exhibits in California

7 Best Interactive Museums and Art Exhibits in California

Make learning fun at one of California's many great interactive museums and art exhibits. Use our guide to plan your next inspiring outing.

Mateos Glen Hayes


4 min read

July 18, 2023

Home to one of the great entertainment centers of the world, the Golden State has no shortage of interesting things to see and do. In addition to being a capital for film and music, California is also home to some of the most unique interactive museums in the world, perfect for a day of fun exploration for the whole family. 

If you’re looking for fun interactive activities to entertain and educate the whole family, check out these amazing museums located all over California. Regardless of which one you go to, you’re guaranteed to have a great time and learn something new at these interactive museums and art exhibits in the Golden State. 

Exploratorium (San Francisco)

Possibly one of the most famous interactive museums in California, the Exploratorium is a San Francisco museum of science, technology, and art unlike any other. It’s a unique experience because it’s an interactive monument to scientific achievement and education. This interactive museum gives you and your family the one-of-a-kind experience that comes with learning principles of quantum physics through fun interactive exhibits that are a world apart from a dreary science lesson. 

You’ll want to set aside a day to explore everything this unique museum in San Francisco has to offer. The exhibits are virtually endless in this museum and you can easily spend the whole day here and still not see everything. That also means this interactive museum is a great place for return visitors, so remember the Exploratorium the next time you’re in the City by the Bay. 

Explore the wonders of science with the whole family at San Francisco’s massive Exploratorium.

Museum of 3D Illusions (San Francisco)

Welcome to The City’s world-class museum of 3D illusions, a freaky funny place where you can experience breathtaking 3D illusions that make for a memorable experience and a unique Insta post. Each of the museum’s displays is meant to transport you into a whole new world of high-flying fantasy. To have fun at this museum means letting your imagination soar as you experience the wonder of you’re very own flying carpet, hang off a thirty-story skyscraper, and escape the jaws of a giant shark. Anything is possible in this otherworldly place of intricate illusions. You can take photos yourself or pay extra for admission to have a professional photographer shoot photos for you. Once you’ve passed through the exhibit, vent your stress and negative emotions in Smash it!, where the museum lets you smash plates with your stress-filled thoughts written on them to your heart's content. 

Pretend City Children’s Museum (Irvine) 

Make your child’s dreams come true at the Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine, California.

This nonprofit museum in Irvine is a fun-filled venue with a mission. In this interconnected set of seventeen exhibits, this interactive museum gives your kids the chance to be everything they ever wanted to be. Here your child can be a deejay, run a cash register, be a pilot, drive a firetruck, work together to build something cool, and so much more. This museum offers a unique and safe environment where your kid can freely explore and be autonomous. Plus, the Pretend City Children’s Museum uses its revenue to support families, educators, and community agencies who care for children with developmental difficulties, so it all goes to a good cause. 

MOXI, The Museum of Exploration+Innovation (Santa Barbara) 

MOXI is a three-story facility dedicated to facilitating the fun exploration of technology, science, maths, and the arts. Much like San Francisco’s Exploratorium, the goal is to take subjects that might have been boring in a classroom and demonstrate the wonder of how these concepts work with creative interactive exhibits. At MOXI, kids can learn about physics by building their race car, exploring the world of lights at the museum’s colorful Light Track exhibit, and launching and conducting test flights at the Wind Column Workshop. MOXI teaches children why these topics are not only interesting but even magical and valuable. 

MOXI teaches children about science, maths, and engineering using fun interactive exhibits that stimulate the imagination.

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (Los Angeles) 

Located in the City of Angeles, this Mexican-American museum and cultural center is also one of the best interactive museums and art exhibits in California. This interactive museum and art exhibit features a series of innovatively designed interactive displays that communicate the rich history, culture, and traditions of Los Angeles’ Mexican and other Latino communities. From the moment you arrive, the museum’s open and inviting design draws you in with a colorful pedestrian-oriented arcade. Inside you’ll find beautiful interactive recreations of Mexican-American history, including a reconstruction of Main Street in the 1920s, an exhibit celebrating Mexican cuisine’s influence in SoCal, and exhibits that confront challenging issues such as xenophobia and discrimination against Latinos both currently and historically, as well as other social issues.  

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Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (Oakland)

It is impossible to fully appreciate the value of historic digital media without interacting with it, and that’s why the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, or MADE for short, allows guests to experience its wealth of historic digital entertainment collections. MADE is the perfect destination for the avid gamer since it features 10,000 playable video games from as early as the 1970s and as recent as the early 2000s. Visiting MADE also allows you to try vintage consoles that have long been off the market, including Fairchild, ATARI, Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and Commodore machines. MADE also features some unique consoles that you might never have heard of, including Virtual On, a Japanese arcade cabinet where you could play a shoot-em-up called CyberTroopers.     

Experience the world of vintage digital entertainment at MADE. Video game history is important and documented here.

The Gregangelo Museum (San Francisco)

This interactive museum and art exhibit is a distinctly San Francisco experience that perfectly embodies the free-flowing eclecticism of the City by the Bay’s colorful art scene. The Museum’s resident artist, Gregangelo Herrera, brought this space into being over a 43-year process of imagination and creation. The result was an interactive museum that ignites the senses, arouses wonderment, and dares its visitors to embark on an amazing journey where fantasy turns into reality, and nothing is what it seems. Although the museum can only hold six guests at one time, you can easily spend up to two hours exploring this brilliantly unusual space, so be sure to set aside an afternoon for your visit. 

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