Do you know you can take a private tour of JPL? If you don’t know what JPL is, just think NASA. In fact JPL is NASA’s center for the robotic exploration of the solar system! JPL’s engineers are the ones that helped Matt Damon to get back to earth in the movie “The Martian”. Well you get the point…JPL is a big deal! So being able to tour it is beyond exciting!
So how do you visit JPL? You can either wait for their yearly open house, but as some of you might know, this is not a great option since you will have to compete for your spot with other 15,000+ people. Option 2 is a free tour which is what I did! And it was amazing.
To be honest I am not sure if my kids understood the importance of being inside the JPL facility, but I definitely did, and I had butterflies in my stomach during most of the tour.
The tour included a presentation of JPL and their missions, a visit to their museum which shows the different rovers and satellites that are currently out in space or on different planets. Then we visited the “clean” room where everything gets assembled before being sent off into space, and finally the best part, a stop at the mission control room where all space communications happen.
So for me, it was absolutely worth the drive and, in fact, I wish I could go back without kids so I can learn even more! 🙂
- Educational Group Tours designed for schools and educational groups of 20 people or more. Recommended for 3rd grade and older.
- Public Group Tours designed for organizations and groups of 20 people or more.
- Visitor Day Tour designed for individuals and families of 10 people or less.
How to reserve your tour:
You can easily reserve a free tour online. Click here to reserve your tour.
Know before you go:
- Quote from JPL website: “JPL requires that all U.S. citizens, 18 years of age or older, present official, government issued photo identification (driver’s license or passport) before being allowed entry. All non-U.S. Citizens 18 years of age or older must present a passport or resident visa (green card) before being allowed entry.”
- Wear comfortable shoes since you will be walking a bit. The website says that the tour involves a considerable amount of walking and stair climbing, but I felt that we sat most of the time. Maybe I was just too excited to realize we were walking!
- If you go during the summer months, wear a hat and sunscreen as you will be walking outside to go from one building to another.
- You can take pictures with the exception of the clean room.
- You can bring little ones but you have to be able to carry them. There are too many stairs to be able to use a stroller.
- The tour is approximately 2 hours.
- It took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to go from Irvine to Pasadena, where JPL is. I left at around 8am. Depending on what time you leave it might take you longer, so plan accordingly. I left immediately after the tour was over at 3:10pm and it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to get back. If you leave later, it will take you much longer, so either leave immediately or spend the rest of the day in Pasadena and wait for the traffic to die down.
- There are several fun museums that you can visit while you are there. Some options are: Kidspace Children’s museum, Norton Simon Museum, storytime at the Pasadena Public Library, The Huntington Library.
- Here is a list of restaurants in Pasadena.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109