It was nearly 20 years ago that a tiny studio emerged in Grape Day Park in Escondido, bringing together children throughout the community for hours of learning and playing. Today, the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from throughout Southern California, transforming North County into a go-to destination for families.
The museum, which is located near downtown Escondido, focuses on hands-on learning for children between the ages of 0 to 10. Attracting more than 150,000 visitors each year, the museum houses fun exhibits in 7,500 square feet of space, offering an intimate setting for families.
“All our exhibits are designed and built by our staff of professional artists and engineers, which allows us to make innovative changes and upgrades to our museum at any moment,” said Wendy Taylor, who was named the museum’s executive director in May after working for the nonprofit for seven years. “Our museum specializes in early childhood education, and there really is no better place to take a young child. Nothing compares to seeing the look on a child’s face when they discover something new, or master a skill they have been working on for weeks.”
Taylor said the museum is different from other children’s museums because the programs cover a “range of diverse topics including literacy, science, technology, engineering, art, music, world cultures, performing arts, and so many others.”
“Our cutting-edge early childhood STEM education is unlike anything else being offered in the region,” Taylor said. “Our wide, spacious layout helps families easily navigate the museum, but we are small enough for children to quickly gain confidence in their surroundings. This helps children become more innovative and adventurous in their play.”
In addition to the museum space, the nonprofit also offers a “Mobile Museum” that brings exhibits to children throughout the region, serving an additional 20,000 people, Taylor said. The center also offers discounted rates for residents receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as, service members.
“The staff has an unparalleled passion for making a difference in our community and helping families grow and learn together,” Taylor said. “I am also very proud of our recognition as leaders in the Museums for All program, and our ability to break down barriers to cultural institutions and non-formal education for those who need it most.”
Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara, an outspoken supporter of the museum, described it as a “pillar.”
“Every community has its pillars that define the city,” McNamara said. “The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum is one of ours. It’s popularity and contribution to children is well-known throughout the county as evidenced by its attendance by people from every corner of the county and beyond. We are very proud that the children’s museum calls Escondido home.”
Looking ahead, Taylor said the museum plans to extend its after-hours programs, such as the summer concert series. Staffers also hope to develop more partnerships with schools in the region to reach more children.
“Having a child of my own, it has been an absolute joy to appreciate the Museum through the eyes of my son,” Taylor said. “What we do here at San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum truly changes lives, and sparks learning.”
The museum is open every day at 9:30 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday. It closes at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Admission ranges from $1 to $8. Annual membership rates range from $35 to $150.
For more information about the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, go to www.sdcdm.org.
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