An Unusual California History Field Trip: Jurupa Cultural Center in Riverside

A True Interdisciplinary Resource

If you are traveling to the Los Angeles area, don’t miss this out of the ordinary place.

Interdisciplinary learning is rich: When earth science can be learned at the same time native animals and plants can be viewed, a new, rich picture emerges.

You’ll know you are close when you see large iron mammoth sculpture off the 60 in Riverside, CA. Once museums are back up again — post Covid — check out the Jurupa Cultural Center in Riverside. Follow this link for more information. This museum may not have the high-tech, eye-candy buttons that can be seen at the Discovery Cube or the California Science Center in more urban areas, but it’s super hands-on. It’s a genuine experience where children can touch, see, and be at ease in a non-over-produced environment. It lacks many overwhelming sensory aspects that are experienced at other museums.

What California history questions can be answered at Jurupa Cultural Center?

  • What types of tools and objects did Native Californians build and use?
  • What rocks and minerals can be found in California?
  • What can rocks teach us about how the land was formed?
  • What types of prehistoric life can be found in California?
  • What are some common plants and animals that are found in the Golden State?

This video has an excellent overview of the location.

Earth Science Museum: Minerals, Rocks, and Fossils

Beautiful Picture Rocks

The eclectic indoor museum features fluorescent minerals, Indian artifacts, petrified wood, Chinese dinosaur eggs, dinosaur fossils, ivory, and a wonderful collection of rocks and minerals exhibiting nicely-curated specimen from all over the world. If your kids love rocks and minerals, they will love this!

During the week, they host a multitude of field trips; they have an awesome outdoor classroom where kids can have a first hand experience with a variety of rocks. Also, they have a rock yard where visitors can pick out rocks such as lava rocks, agate, and quartz for purchase. Inside the museum, they even have a mammoth tusk! (For an elementary-aged California history curriculum that touches on earth science and mammoths, check out California Out of the Box.)

California Animal Life

Do your kids like personal experiences with reptiles and tortoises? In the Tortoise Barn and Paddock, they have large desert tortoises. Inside animals include a Critter Corner with tarantulas, snakes, lizards and more.

Also, if you like Native and cactus plants, check out the amazing nursery.

Don’t Forget: Save Money for the Gift Shop!

The admission, as well as the parking is free! The folks that run this museum are so smart—this means more money for the GIFT SHOP! They have a good selection of fossils, rocks, and minerals that can be purchased very economically.

When to visit?

Since this museum is located inland in Riverside, visiting in October through May will be most comfortable. It gets super hot in the area June through September. During the week, the main focus of the center is school groups. On Saturdays, catch a tour and see the whole property. Visitors could spend as many as 2 to 4-5 hours visiting the sprawling site. I only spent 2 hours, and I felt rushed.

Rock Hounding!

They have a number of expeditions where kids and families can go on into the local hills and quarries and go rock hounding. Also, they offer a variety of Boy and Girl Scout Badge Programs.

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