So….clear back in March, my lil’ family migrated down to Irvine one Wednesday to check out Pretend City. The journey there was a bit harrowing as I can’t figure out how in the heck to tell my GPS to ignore toll roads. We ended up stopping at a Costco for lunch and ate like kings for cheap before contacting my sister-in-law (who now lives in Orange County) on how in the world to navigate around the area.
Bless her, because we finally figured out how to get to the location!
Tucked in an unassuming industrial park, Pretend City is a haven for children. Kids can take their time card to various locations throughout the building, get it stamped and then go to one of their ATMs and get “money” for their work. The money does nothing else than give an extra element of realism, so if you have real little youngsters, they’re in no way going to miss out on any of the fun to be had.
The buildings included a grocery store, gas station, cafe, post office, farm, health center and emergency services. Jude’s favorite by far was the cafe — in fact, this was the hot spot for most of the children. Where else can you rope your parents into being served a myriad of plastic food in a somewhat realistic setting? By the way, parents, you’re encouraged by Pretend City to leave your cell phone in your pocket and engage with your child(ren). 🙂
Jude also loved the science aspect of this water exhibit. Children were encouraged to build foam boats and put them through the current. Areas allowed for you to use barriers to redirect the current or use wind to explore the use of sails on water. Jude loved this hole in the center of the water table where you could stand and interact with items as they drifted by. Of course, there was also a fishing area where you could use “fishing rods” and nets.
The other great thing about Pretend City was the library. The bibliophile in me completely nerded out going through the selection of books and I was able to show Jude a book written in braille — which was also the first time I was able to see one myself. (Can you tell we live in a “small” town?)
The only downside to this trip was the drive! We live in the high desert, so it’s a 90 minute drive on a GOOD day and a 3 hour drive on a bad day. Since Pretend City closes at 5 and we didn’t even get there until around 12:30pm or so, we were stuck in the 3 hours of rush hour traffic to get home. My solution to this is Disney or Knott’s Berry Farm passes so we can tour around a park waiting for rush hour to, uh, rush on by, but we haven’t quite accomplished that yet. LOL. One day.
*Beware of your GPS’s love of toll roads. It’ll tell you how to get there the fastest, but it won’t quite cooperate to get you around the tolls either. Pretend City is quite literally in the heart of toll road country!
*Get to the doors when they open and leave early if you want to avoid the traffic jam. Memberships are available which also get you in the door an hour earlier the days they are open AND they’re tax deductible because Pretend City is a non profit organization! WOOT!!
*Bring a sack lunch. There’s areas there for you to eat, but only vending machines available for food.
Thanks for reading!