Mission: Pretend City is a community which builds better brains through fun, whole body learning experiences and empowers children and their grown-ups to meaningfully connect with and expand their world.
We visited this wonderful, 28,000 square foot facility in January, with my almost 2-year old grandson. He was having so much fun and so involved in all they have to offer, that when we decided we had to leave for lunch, he broke away from his mother’s arms and ran back to the entrance banging on the door to go back in!
Pretend City is a concept planned back in 1997 and is the first major children’s museum in Orange County. Philanthropists Alexandra Airth and Sandra Peffer founded the Children’s Museum of Orange County. The grand opening of Pretend City was in August 2009 in its current location in Irvine and serves as a community resource, offering classes for children and parents, outreach programs, teacher trainings and field trip opportunities. In its first two months, there were nearly 40,000 visitors—evidence that this was a much loved outing for children and their families.
“Pretend City was designed with an important goal in mind, to build better brains in children, infant to 10 years old. We have combined eight specific learning objectives, our Building Blocks, with an informal, immersive learning environment that is developmentally appropriate for infants, toddlers, and young children.
We developed our Building Blocks in an effort to identify skills that are essential for children as they learn about the world around them, gain confidence and self-esteem and most importantly, build a strong base of knowledge for their future.” (Pretend City website)
Pretend City offers a child-sized fire station, gas pumps with cars, library, small play house with five rooms, dentist office, farming area and a mini-Ralph’s grocery store among the venues! All of these are lined up along winding avenues throughout the building. Of course, an ATM machine was placed near Ralph’s for much needed “cash” to shop. The Marina was one of our favorites and a long time was spent trying to hook some sea creatures with our fishing poles. Small amenities such as waterproof cloaks and art smocks in the Art Studio are provided, which proved to be very handy!
Various toys and small vehicles are all around to play with. At the Farm, there is a “dirt” box with dump trucks, shovels, and the like. Small cars are available to pedal around the streets.
Food is available at Lulu’s Creperie Café (10 am to 2 pm daily)and the gift shop, or Mini-Mall, had an amazing selection of toys and educational items. Parties can be planned at Pretend City with a number of different packages. The Events calendar is filled with various activities including a “Parents’ Night out.” (Check calendar for additional details).
This was a wonderful place to visit and enjoy with my toddler grandson. Kids of all ages will definitely find something that suits their wishes. As a child, I remember my sister and I always “pretended” and set up our own library or restaurant. Pretend City has it all and many hours can be spent learning and just having fun!
Irvine, CA 92618
Tue – Sun: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Mon: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
(Closed major holidays)
Infants to 10 years old
10:00 am to 4:00 pm (after 4:00 pm, admission is ½ price)
Infants to 12 months Free
Military and Family Members: $8