Orange County With Kids: Pretend City in Irvine, CA

We visited Pretend City at our own expense (including baby Eilan slept through the whole visit!). Whenever I accept a free service, I will always let you know.

While we were down in Orange County visiting family, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to check out a brand new children's museum called Pretend City

In an Industrial Park near Irvine Spectrum, a windowless warehouse has been recently converted into a playspace for local kids. The museum is modeled after a small city, with a town square and roads leading between each of the "shops"

Town Square at Pretend City, Irvine CA
Town Square at Pretend City, Irvine CA

My kids were a bit overwhelmed by all the of the activity in the "town square," but once we pulled them into the shops, they started to have fun.

Construction Area at Pretend City in Irvine, CA
Construction Area at Pretend City in Irvine, CA

Building with PVC pipes is always a hit! We actually went to the hardware store and made our own set after first seeing this done at the Explora Science Museum in Albuquerque. It's really fun to be able to build large structures, and the pipes are both inexpensive and easy to add to over time.

If you go, bring a change of clothes. Hidden in the back of the museum is a huge water play area

Water Play Area at Pretend City in Irvine, CA
Water Play Area at Pretend City in Irvine, CA

But the real hit, for my kids, was the art space right by the front door. They loved "pasting" tissue paper on the window with water, making collages, and painting. There's something about creating a work of art that is very soothing even in a tumultuous children's museum.

Art Studio at Pretend City in Irvine, CA
Art Studio at Pretend City in Irvine, CA

Surprisingly, the museum also had fresh-made lunch options and baked goods in kid sized portions! That's a treat - I usually try to carry my own snacks, but when I run out it's nice not to be stuck with whatever I can find in a vending machine. If you have time for a full meal, though, you should really visit Fukada Restaurant for some of the best Japanese food in the area.

Food Choices at Pretend CIty in Ivine, CA
Food Choices at Pretend CIty in Ivine, CA
Related Links Orange County, CA with Kids

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  1. Madonnalisa Chan on October 26, 2009 at 12:38 p.m.

    This is great. We still have family in Irvine so this will be a great stop when we head down there again sometime after baby#2 arrives. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Amy @ Pitstops for Kids on October 26, 2009 at 1:01 p.m.

    It's great to see this place reviewed! I've always thought there's surprisingly little to do with kids in this part of Orange County (unless you want to do the big Disney thing). We'll check this out for sure on our next family visit to the area!

  3. Holly Chatelain on October 26, 2009 at 8:05 p.m.

    Wow, this looks great! Jack would love it. It reminds me of Kid's Town at the Orlando Science Center. Cute.

  4. Debbie on October 27, 2009 at 10:29 p.m.

    I think this is a great spot if you live in the area (or are visiting family) - especially on a rainy or over-hot day. Hope you both get a chance to visit.

  5. Amy @ The Q Family on October 28, 2009 at 6:20 a.m.

    I love small children museum like this. It's not too big to be too overwhelming but fun enough for kids to explore. Look like it's a great gem to visit with kids.

  6. Sharlene on October 30, 2009 at 4:32 p.m.

    I am glad you liked Pretend City. Its is very close to where I live and a great little place for toddlers. There is a ton to do in Orange County without Disney. I blog about it all the time! :)