Hawaii Mom Blog: Off-Island: Pretend City Children's Museum




October 12, 2012

Off-Island: Pretend City Children's Museum

I always love taking my kids to new and fun attractions, and we recently visited Pretend City Children's Museum in Irvine during our recent trip to Southern California.

From the moment we stepped into Pretend City the boys were engaged.

There was so much to see and do in Pretend City.

The kids could go to the library or post office, go grocery shopping, pretend to be a firefighter, visit the doctor or dentist, or drive around the city (click on photos to enlarge).

I know there are similar attractions in many cities throughout the nation, even in Hawaii, but I really loved the way Pretend City was actually set up - like a real city!  In addition to the various businesses and establishments, there are roads where kids can drive around in ride-on toys, and there are also stoplights, street signs, and parking spaces.

There's even a little house - complete with a living room, bathroom, kitchen, and two bedrooms.

And that's not all you'll find in Pretend City.

There's also an art studio, a marina, an amphitheater, a farm, and so much more!

If you or your kids are hungry, they even have a "Real Cafe" offering all sorts of healthy options.

Overall we had a truly enjoyable time at Pretend City.

I love how at so many of the exhibits there are appropriate costumes and accessories for kids to pretend play, whether it's a cafe worker, a firefighter, or a dentist.

Kids are also given a time card which gets stamped at various locations, and once it's filled they can go to the ATM, insert their time card, and they'll receive play money!

A really great thing about Pretend City is that they are very special needs-friendly.  They believe all children should have the ability to experience the value of pretend play, and they offer a variety of supplies upon request to help make it a positive experience for special needs children.  For instance, they offer gluten-free play dough, headphones, and weighted shoulder pads.

Fortunately during our visit, DS1, who has an autism spectrum disorder, remained relatively calm and did not have many major meltdowns despite the new environment and being amongst so many other children.

However, he did not do much pretending throughout the city.  Instead, he focused on certain items that made him content.  For instance, he enjoyed playing "stop and go" with the stoplight (whenever it turned green he'd walk, when it turned red he'd stop).  For a long while that's all he wanted to do - play "stop and go."

He also loved playing in the marina (he loves water play at school).  In fact - the marina was a popular spot for all my kids.  They had a blast going fishing and making boats (raincoats are available to prevent from getting soaked).

Unlike DS1, DS2 did A LOT of pretending.  His favorite pretend activity was cooking - he could've stayed all day in the cafe!

As for DS3 - he's a bit too young to understand what pretend play is all about, but he really enjoyed finding familiar toys he could play with (blocks, puzzles, etc.).

Although there were a lot of kids because of a field trip, our kids had enough time to explore each exhibit.  My favorite moment of our visit was when DS2 went to the "doctor's office," and all of a sudden a bunch of kids from the field trip made him their patient.  DS2 was such a trooper and remained a good patient! 

We could've spent all day at Pretend City.  It truly is a great place for little kids of all ages and needs to explore, play, and pretend!

Below are more photos from our visit.


Pretend City Children's Museum: 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618; 949-428-3900
General Admission: $11 Children (over 12 months) and Adults

Thank you to Pretend City Children's Museum for providing the complimentary passes for our visit. All opinions are my own.

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