The center offers dozens of ways to encounter animals in a mirrored image of their natural surroundings. Finger graze sauntering rays in a state-of-the-art, 21,000-galloon aquarium, spy on leopard sharks and guitar fish, or admire preening sea turtles basking in a lagoon. Chula Vista also boasts an underwater wonder zone featuring majestic sea horses, spotted octopus, and moon jelly. Peep through circular portal windows to observe the aquatic or sandy exploits of some of the area's most dramatic native inhabitants (lobsters, spiny lizards, exploding ants, etc.).
More than one million fossils and artifacts were unearthed during the construction the Diamond Valley Lake reservoir in Hemet. These time-swept relics make their home in the Western Science Center's museum complex, creating a bridge between ancient eras and the scientific advances of the future. The campus itself is steeped in advanced design tactics, making it the first museum in California to earn a Platinum LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. A rooftop covered with 3,000 solar panels provides more than half of the museum's power needs, and a combination of heat-resistant windows and forced-air circulation keeps the interior cool while spending less energy on air conditioning and ice sculpture maintenance.
A journey through the ages begins from the moment visitors step from the parking lot and under the Life on Earth Timelime, a 156-foot corridor of geologic time rings from Pre-Cambrian to Holocene that leads to the museum lobby. Inside, they explore permanent and temporary exhibits, including "Max," the largest mastodon skeleton found in the Western United States and the Discovery lab highlighting the tool contemporary architects use every day. Crowds can take a seat in the immersion theater with a 270-degree screen to watch a pair of short films about the time when giant creatures roamed California and how the region was excavated and preserved.
Renovated in 2011, the Museum of Making Music showcases a permanent display of hundreds of unusual and vintage instruments charting the progression of song-crafting from 1900 to modern times. Five museum galleries present popular music, innovations in instruments and their manufacture, and marketing and distribution techniques in five eras throughout the 20th century. Racks of gleaming instruments line the cases, as well as more eclectic pieces such as double-neck guitars, the crossbreed GuitarViol, and an ancient, forgotten instrument whose name is always whispered: the "clarinet." The museum is dotted with interactive exhibits, giving visitors the chance to craft their own tunes on the exhibit's drum kits or keytar.
Zoomars calls itself a place for "innocent, old-fashioned fun"—and it's not kidding about the "old-fashioned" part. Although the petting zoo itself opened three decades ago, it stands on the site of a farm built around 1890. Other exceedingly quaint buildings sprang up around it in the years that followed, and now its fuzzy and feathered fleet frolics in the center of San Juan Capistrano's historic district, including two Zoomars facilities listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tidy, USDA-approved farm houses 16 friendly species ready for affectionate coddling, such as sheep, bunnies, and guinea pigs. Zoo staffers supervise kids as they climb into goat pens, or drop snacks into the mouths of zedonks, zebus, and staff members working through lunch.
Additionally, a child-size miniature train chugs a whistling ride around a circular track, and gentle ponies trot along on hand-led trail rides as parents canter along behind. At a re-created Gold Rush–era mine, staffers help small visitors to pan and sift for gemstones, arrowheads, dinosaur fossils, fool’s gold, and long-lost arcade tokens.
Founded in the mid-1980s, The California Women's Conference boasts a long and proud tradition of lectures and discussion panels aimed especially at women in business. Some highlights from past years include a panel and sack race featuring Michelle Obama, Ann Romney, Cindy McCain, and Elizabeth Edwards in 2007 and a historic address from the Dalai Lama and Maria Shriver in 2006. Beyond annual conventions, The California Women’s Conference offers news and resources with a lively online community.