The Nat Opens New Space for Children

Created: 01 August, 2018
Last update: 27 July, 2022

By Ana Gomez Salcido

A brand-new space designed specifically for the youngest guests at the San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) is now open.

The new exhibit called Backyard is modeled after a quintessential San Diego backyard and provides children up to five years of age with a safe, dedicated place to play while parents, grandparents, and caregivers participate or sit, relax, and observe.

The 800-square-foot space, which encourages little learners to learn and explore the natural world through play, is a permanent addition to the Museum.

“Opening the Backyard enhances the museum for our youngest visitors and their families,” said Judy Gradwohl, President and CEO of the Nat. “Based on early childhood learning theory and the natural wonders in our own backyards, this exhibition will delight young children and their accompanying adults. Our hope is that the Backyard inspires lifelong learning about the nature around us and instills an appreciation for the magnificent wildlife that can be enjoyed outdoors every day.”

Children can play under a shade tree, search for hidden secrets along a wooden fence, climb on a giant ladybug, or read their favorite book in a cozy potting shed. And for the youngest visitors still at the crawling stage, there’s a soft, cushioned area for protected exploration.

Whether a child is captivated by animals, minerals, or vegetables, the Backyard is packed with experiences that encourage curiosity about the natural world.
“The Backyard provides flexible experiences that allows adults to choose their level of engagement,” said Beth Redmond-Jones, vice president of engagement and education at The Nat. “They can either be actively engaged in their child’s play or sit back and relax with a latte from The Flying Squirrel Cafe. And for parents or caregivers who have been gallivanting in Balboa Park all day, or simply just need a breather, that can be a beautiful thing.”

Backyard visitors will also be able to see the newest film being screened at the museum, titled “Backyard Wilderness 3D”. It, too, speaks to the unexpected wonders of nature that are right under people’s noses—in their own backyards. The film plays in the museum’s 300-seat giant-screen theater.

Access to the Backyard is included with general admission and is free for members.

The Nat is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, California, 92101 in Balboa Park and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily only closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The Backyard will close at 4:30 PM each day for cleaning and maintenance.

Admission rates are $19.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors, students and military, $11.95 for youth (ages 3 to 17) and children 2 and under enter free.