Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center

Kids will love this playful take on history’s most famous “cruise”

No matter what playground you visit around the world, whether it’s in New York, Paris or Rome, the contents are pretty much the same: monkey bars, a few slides, and a row of swings. And while your mini-you might be content being pushed in a tire or climbing on a standard-issue tinker tot ladder, variety is the spice of life, right?

That’s why taking your kids to Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center is just the thing to kick your child’s senses into high gear. Located in Los Angeles, this 8,000-square-foot gallery is a cornucopia of interactive fun. Unlike taking Junior to Bloomingdale’s or Home Depot, kids are actually encouraged to touch and play with just about everything. This playful take on history’s oldest cruise invites kids to climb, make music, build and explore. (And for parents, there will be no exasperated moments of, “PUT THAT DOWN.” Yes!)

Some highlights: pairing up animals on a conveyor belt to be carried onto the ship; pulling ropes to open and close hatches and windows; “making” weather by cranking and shifting levers. Finally, let the children exhaust themselves by running around the platforms, ladders, ramps, and tunnels in the menagerie where all the animals are being kept and cared for. And while the fauna may be inanimate, Skirball keeps it real by having to sweep up fake poop (excellent training for any future Fido in the family).

And speaking of the animals, the stars of the exhibit are all creatively constructed from recycled materials. The flamingos are made from pink fly swatters, kiwi birds are made out of boxing gloves, and the mane of a lion made from hundreds of keys.

So whether you live close by or are just in town for a visit, Noah’s Ark at Skirball is just the antidote for the playground doldrums. And just like Noah, you’ll need to do a little preparation before you make your trip: be sure to reserve and buy your tickets in advance. However, there’s no need to bring two of everything—a catastrophic flood is, fortunately, not included.