Are you taking any family trips to Southern California this year?
If so, we have discovered a perfect rest stop!
We have made the drive between Southern California and the valley hundreds of times, so we were shocked on our latest trip when we stopped at the Vista del Lago Visitors Center at Pyramid Lake, in the middle of the Grapevine.
How have we never known about this place??
The Vista del Lago Visitors Center is part of the California State Water Project and is all about how water is distributed around the state.
The building is beautiful and well-maintained, and there are several rooms of interactive displays that are quite impressive.
Adults will learn a lot for sure, but even our 3- and 6-year-olds got something out of every exhibit.
These are little dioramas portraying water systems in different ancient civilizations:
And this is a scale that shows your actual weight and how much of your weight is water:
This was my kids' favorite exhibit:
It has balls representing water and the kids use paddles to push the balls into vacuum tubes, representing evaporation. Then, the balls go into rain clouds and when the kids push a button the balls all fall down in a "rain storm".
There are also exhibits about how the State Water Project was created,
how water gets pumped over the mountains,
and how water moves around the state.
There is also a forest room with kid-friendly learning panels and some animals.
However, after several hours on the road, the most welcome part for both parents and kids is this little movie theater area, where the parents can sit and rest on couches and watch movies while the kids get their wiggles out on the padded play area.
After learning a lot inside, there is a treat waiting outside on the observation deck, with a beautiful view of the lake and mountains, and telescopes that you can use.
Our 6-year-old happily exclaimed, "These don't need quarters!"
At the end of our time at the Visitors Center, the kids got funny hats to remind them about water conservation, and they were happy and peaceful throughout the rest of the journey.
I still can't believe that we never knew about this great place!
We will be stopping here every time from now on.
The Vista del Lago Visitors Center has easy on-and-off access from the 5 freeway, and nice, clean restrooms with changing tables.
It is open daily from 9 am - 5 pm, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, and is completely free.