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The Great Indoors

While California is known for its sunshine, beaches and outdoor adventures, the Golden State has a wide array of activities that entice visitors to stay inside. From world-class museums to indoor water parks, these are the state’s top attractions, perfect for a rainy day.


Pan for Riches
Bring California’s Gold Rush history to life at The Gold Rush Museum in Auburn. You’ll immerse yourself in the life of a forty-niner with a simulated mining tunnel, stamp mill and a wheelchair-accessible indoor panning stream.

Victorian Age
Step back into a time of gracious living at Fresno’s Meux Home Museum. Docent-led tours regale visitors with stories that bring the art and architecture alive in the 16-room gothic Victorian mansion. Don’t miss a stroll in the garden after your tour.

Child’s Play
The Cayton Children’s Museum in Santa Monica serves up over 21,000 square feet of creative play space for children nine months to eight years old. In addition to more than 20 exhibits, the museum has a robust calendar of art and cultural activities designed to engage and excite the little ones. 

Make Believe Land
Children love to play pretend and at the Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine, their fantasies come to life. The museum is a child-size city that invites kids to play grown-up by buying groceries, getting gas, going to the bank, or going to work at the café, the farm or as a doctor. 

Native American Culture
Palm Springs’s Agua Caliente Cultural Museum offers five galleries showcasing the history and culture of the Agua Caliente People. The different areas of the museum bring the Cahuilla Nation’s rich traditions to life, focusing on the home, creation and migration, the land, change and adaptation, and the future. The museum is a Smithsonian affiliate. 

Pennypickle’s Workshop
Enter the fanciful world of Professor Phineas T. Pennypickle at the Temecula Children’s Museum. The Professor’s lab is filled with hands-on inventions, experiments and gadgets that allow kids to explore science while playing. The museum won a prestigious THEA award for the innovative experience it creates for kids. 

Hang Ten
As the birthplace of surfing in America, it’s fitting that the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center resides in Dana Point. Visitors can see surfing artifacts, memorabilia and photographs while learning more about the sport’s interesting history. 

Unusual Indoor Experiences

Acres of Exploration
Redding’s Turtle Bay Exploration Park is the region’s top indoor/outdoor cultural adventure center for visitors of all ages and interests. The center’s museum offers everything from an aquarium and saltwater tank to a walk-through cave and exhibits on the area’s history. There are also several indoor exhibits where kids can get up close with some of the 64 species of animals at Turtle Bay. 

Art Attack
Art reigns in Ukiah, Mendocino County’s largest city. In the heart of downtown, three art galleries invite visitors to explore art, history and culture. Grace Hudson Museum & Sun House is an art, anthropology and history museum that focuses on the work of artist Grace Carpenter Hudson and her ethnologist husband, Dr. John W. Hudson. Corner Gallery Ukiah and Medium Art Gallery are co-ops showcasing local artists.

Splish Splash 
For a memorable family-friendly vacation, Great Wolf Lodge in Anaheim can’t be beat. Nearly 100,000 square feet of aquatic fun is waiting with the River Canyon Run, Rapid Racer, Sequoia Splash and more. If land activities are more your style, the hotel boasts an arcade, bowling alley, mini-golf and ropes course. 

Lady Luck
Black Oak Casino Resort in Tuolumne County is elevating the casino experience to a family affair with its newest offering, Elevate Park. For teens and adults, the indoor fun park offers golf simulators, axe throwing, and an elevated dodgeball court. For the kiddos, the jump zone and junior jump zone are the perfect way to burn off excess energy. 

Indoor Birding
Bird lovers will crow at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology Bird Museum & Research Center in Camarillo, which features the largest nest collection in the world and one of the largest egg collections. The museum is open by appointment only for docent-led tours.