Today and yesterday my wife, daughter and I visited the Jet Propulsion Lab's annual open house event in Pasadena. (Or is JPL to the north of Pasadena in La Canada Flintridge?)
It was only this weekend, but if you are interested in space exploration and you don't mind crowds
you should consider going next year.
Parking and admission were free, but it was VERY crowded. (It seemed to be an exceptionally nice crowd though. A lot of polite, nerdy families.) My daughter loved it and we bumped into two of her friends there, but I don't think this event is targeted at kids as science museums are.
I wouldn't mind fighting the crowds alone for a day. I'd bring a book to read while I waited in the many, many lines. (Lines to get into exhibits and even a line to get into the gift ship.)
RANT ALERT--skip this paragraph.: The signs aren't always as clear as they could be, so ask to make sure you are in the correct line. Once we got behind 100 other people and I still wanted to ask to be sure we were in the correct line to see a certain film, but nooooooo. In a one-to-one (tie goes to the better half) vote, I lost, and so it turned out that after waiting for 15 minutes, the 100 fellow geniuses ahead of us were all in the wrong line. A socially unskilled JPL volunteer finally had bellowed at us, "What do you people THINK you're in line for?" I missed Disneyland at that moment.
End rant. I feel better now.
We saw the three films that were 20-30 minutes long (with waits of over 30 minutes for each), and in a family area, a small rover drove over our backs as we lay on our stomachs. That was my 6-year-old daughter's favorite part of visiting JPL, though she also enjoyed having a discussion with a patient astrophysicist.
There seemed to be friendly, brilliant, enthusiastic, and surprisingly humble JPL & Cal Tech folks volunteering all over the place and they were happy to answer all of our stupid questions as if we had asked excellent questions. (I have a surprising # of questions for a person in his 40s.)
There was a lot of excitement over the upcoming August 5 landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, so I think I'd like to visit this event every year to learn about the latest exciting discoveries in our solar system and beyond.
The exhibits were very good, so I'd encourage you to consider attending this event next June. Park there before the event opens.