Caleb at Pennypickles


Rain and Disneyland – two words that don’t usually pair well but my pal, a 40yr. old birthday boy, had no trouble releasing his inner child on his first visit to the theme park. A little rain didn’t dent the day and in fact, other than a couple of ride closures, the minor precipitation shortened lines and diminished crowds. It was so much more than childs play.

Honey, I forgot the kids:

What a time we had! Running from ride to ride was a tickle but we both eventually admitted that it would be fun to come back with kids in tow. Although adults are most welcome throughout the park, experiencing a playground through a child’s eyes opens you up to entirely different adventures.

The Professor’s Magic:

I recently reconnected with childs play while visiting Professor Penny Pickles Workshop, the Temecula Children’s Museum.  Temecula is most noted for its wineries and breweries but set in the Old Town district are a multitude of shops, restaurants and theaters. In the midst of all these diversions Caleb and his Grandmother were waiting for the Professor’s place to open. caleb and grandmaWhile they’d played through the school break at all the Southern California theme parks, this was where Caleb wanted to spend his last day of summer vacation. “I want to be here before going home to Michigan,” he said, “because I like science.”

Within an hour kids were everywhere, beaming as they scuttled, crawled and skipped through rooms full of thing to touch and do. Nothing’s under glass here except in the gift shop. The very walls ask to be moved (if you follow the signs in a shadowy maze.) A jumbled kitchen holds a mysterious, chained refrigerator alongside a dark pantry illuminated by a glowing barrel of ‘toxic’ waste.

Pennypickles piano

Even adults can’t resist.

There’s even a grand piano begging for banging and, the morning I was there, the most popular spot was a hot air balloon basket elevated on a platform complete with telescopes and pulleys. That’s where previously quiet Caleb, was shouting orders as a Captain on an imaginary trans-Atlantic flight with a new-found friend.

Granny? She hovered nearby beaming where other parents and adult visitors waited and played vicariously.  I continued my journey through the 7,500 feet of the house; every colorful, playful nook and cranny overflowing with imagination incarnate.

Temecula lies about 45 miles north of San Diego and about an hour south of Riverside along Highway 15. It makes a convenient rest stop and chance to sip the celebrated, local vintages and brews, never knowing what fun lies around the corner at Professor Pennypickles, but they’re missing out. caleb baloon basket

Need a little arm-twisting evidence for your adult playmates?  The Workshop  has garnered more awards than there are pockets in the ubiquitous Professor Pennypickle’s lab coat, including the Nickelodeon’s Parents’ Picks Award for “Best Museum” and “Best Kids’ Party Place, as well as a THEA award from the Themed Entertainment Association, for creators of compelling places and experiences, and two awards from the California Park and Recreation Society.

We’re a lucky species that can reconnect with child’s play anytime we choose. Consider spending a few hours at the Professor Pennypickles workshop the next time you’re in the area. You can tell yourself you’re there for the science.

Pennypickles Workshop – Temecula Children’s Museum

42081 Main Street, Temecula, CA 92590 / 951-308-6370 /


Disclosure: I attended as a guest of the Temecula Convention and Visitors Center.