Address: 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618 (Get Directions) Phone: 949.428.3900 Hours: Sun. 11a.m. - 5p.m. Mon. 10a.m. - 1p.m. Tues. - Sat. 10a.m. - 5p.m. Ages: Infants to 8 years old

Our Exhibits

Pretend City Amphitheater


Sponsored by Christina and William Lyon

Orange County Performing Arts Center with Segerstorm Center for the Arts watch out! This amphitheater, nestled in a park setting hosts storytellers, musical entertainers, and music and drama experiences geared towards young children. The Amphitheater of Pretend City includes a stage, a child-friendly sound and lighting panel, and audience seating. This is a place where children and families can act, create and perform their own songs, dances and stories. With the backdrop, music, prop boxes, and a variety of costumes, children can dance to their own beat, be the stars of their own plays, and give life to their wildest imaginings! Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Art Studio

Art Studio

Sponsored by the Muzzy Family

As colors ebb and flow with the brush strokes of children creating palettes of every color, will we witness the work of the next Renoir, Michelangelo or Chagall? Perhaps! This distinct area in Pretend City is unlike any other in that it is definitely not about pretending. In this authentic art studio, children indeed ARE artists in their own right! We see the creative enthusiasm on faces young and old as they render life to their imaginings and take home their creations for all of the family to admire. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Bank ATM

Bank & ATMs

Banking has been at the heart of commerce from its earliest beginnings! Currently, banks serve as an important part of our lives and are an integral part of a healthy economy. Financial literacy or money managing smarts is a life-long process that begins in early childhood and thrives at our Pretend City Bank’s ATM. After working at the Construction Site or Health Center, when children receive their Pretend City paycheck they can deposit it in a Pretend City ATM. Just like their parents do, children can then withdraw cash from the ATM to use at the Grocery Store, Gas Station or Cafe. Since the brain learns by doing and practice makes permanent, children will begin to develop money smart skills that will help them to understand and use the concept of working for money and using it wisely to make purchases. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Beach


Sponsored by MiOcean

Preserving the environmental integrity of Orange County beaches is one of the central messages that is conveyed at the Pretend City Beach. Children will be able to explore and test the concept of cause and effect by observing what happens when the beach gets polluted with trash. By looking through a transparent street children will be able to follow the path of the yucky litter and pollutants as they are washed down the drain and out on to Pretend City Beach. When the Beach is polluted, it will be closed. As budding environmentalists, children will be motivated to pick up the trash and dispose of it properly in the trash bin. When the trash is disposed of properly, the Pretend City Beach will be reopened for fun beach activities! In this way, children will experience the outcomes of their actions and make the learning connection that their actions can have a dramatic impact on the environment. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Café


Sponsored by the Meruelo Family

One of the most popular places in the City is the café. Role-play opportunities abound in an area rich with pretend menus, ovens, stoves, and a variety of pretend foods just waiting to be prepared and served up to eager parents and grandparents. Pretend City is committed to providing children with exposure to many diverse cultures and ways of life. To help accomplish this, the Café exhibit will change every four months to feature different foods from around the world! Learn more about this exhibit!

City Hall

City Hall & Lobby

Lobby sponsored by Mars, Inc.

Each year an estimated 150,000 people will arrive, plan their day and eventually leave through the Pretend City Lobby. Designed to include a City Hall, children will receive their Pretend City time card at the Lobby ticketing area. This is also where visitors can learn about upcoming programs and classes, become a member or book a corporate event or birthday party. Even an area that seems to just be about taking care of routine business is rich in learning for children at Pretend City!

Pretend City Construction Site

Construction Site

Imagine children experiencing physics, geometry, and math all while playing! Our Construction Site includes a challenging pipe building activity and wooden planks for building structures large and small. The Pretend City Construction Site is undoubtedly a bustling hub of fun for builders young and old! Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Emergency Services

Emergency Services

Dispatch – Sponsored by Bob and Tara Mayer
Police Station – Sponsored by Blake and Jill Bertea
Fire Station – Sponsored by the Hirad and Reesa Emadi Family

For so many children today, the sound of an ambulance or fire truck means only that someone needs help. In Pretend City, children will experience first hand what really happens in an emergency as they pretend to be firefighters, dispatch operators, and police officers. When 911 calls are received at the dispatch desk, the calls will be routed to the fire and police stations, where children will zoom to the rescue in a child-size police car or fire truck. They can jump into action and save the day, hooking up their hose to the hydrant to fight blazing fires or rushing to help someone at the scene of a fender-bender. Then back to the firehouse and police station they will go, to prepare for the next emergency. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Farm


Sponsored by Seeds of Change

Many children do not understand about nor have a connection to the source of the food they consume each day. The orchards and farms in Orange County have dwindled just as family farms in America have been consolidated into food conglomerates. Additionally, recent technologies have changed the way children play and even how families dine. Play activity has moved from playgrounds to indoors and families spend more time dining out or using prepared foods.

Our Pretend City Farm allows children to reconnect with nature and to see how food is grown, harvested and prepared for family meals. Children get a direct experience with the origin of the foods they eat. As Pretend City farmers, children can harvest crops and observe the life cycle of a chicken while watching chickens grow and hatch in the incubator. They can even pick oranges and deliver them to market! Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Gas Station

Gas Station

Sponsored by Gigi and Craig Barto

Washing windows, pumping gas, checking tires…. these activities and more engage children and grown-ups alike at our Pretend City Gas Station. And how much per gallon did you say the price of gasoline was today? Children will find out first hand as they use the money they’ve earned working in Pretend City to fill up their own gas tanks! Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Grocery Store

Grocery Store

Sponsored by Ralphs

Childhood obesity is one of the most pressing problems facing Orange County families today. Where better for children to really learn about good eating habits than in the Pretend City Grocery Store! Children will have fun shopping for five fruits and vegetables a day with their Pretend City grocery lists made up of foods from the California State Five-a-Day Nutrition Initiative. In addition, children will learn and use the red light, yellow light and green light foods system for making healthy food choices. Children working in the Pretend City Farm will deliver the healthy crops they pick to the Grocery Store and learn by participating in the farm to table food cycle. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Health Center

Health Center

Sponsored by Kaiser Foundation Hospitals

Children are often reluctant to enter an exam room or a doctor’s office. At Pretend City, children get the opportunity to experience the doctor’s office from an entirely different perspective, one of curiosity and excitement! Through pretend play in the Pretend City Health Center, children’s fears of medical personnel, procedures and equipment are reduced and their curiosity ignited about how their bodies work! Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Marina


Sponsored by the Crean Family Foundation

Any day in Pretend City is a great day for sailing! Children can make their own sailboats and use a series of wind and water machines to sail them in the Pretend City Marina. Using wind and water for power, children can race their boats and chart unique sailing courses through the waters of Pretend City’s Newport to Dana Point marinas. In another area of the Marina, visitors will experiment with changing the flow of water or fish for the “catch of the day” which they can wrap up at the fish stand to take to the grocery store to sell. Or of course, visitors can simply bask in the fun of playing in the water with a variety of interesting water toys. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Orange Plaza

Orange Plaza

Sponsored the Alexandra and Alan Airth Family

In small communities, often the town center is where people start their days with coffee and the newspaper before going off to work. At the end of the day it is often where they return to share stories, relax and watch children play. Pretend City embraces the concept of the town center in our very own Orange Plaza, and provides Orange County children an idea of a common community meeting area for all to enjoy. In Pretend City’s Orange Plaza, people gather to listen to storytelling, watch live performances, greet long time friends and make new ones before going on to visit the rest of the City. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Our Home

Our Home

Sponsored by Willa Dean and William Lyon

The home is at the heart of every family and it is no different at Pretend City. The goal of the Our Home exhibit is to reflect the rich diversity of Orange County families and will showcase elements of our county’s many cultures within our community. Our home is a place where families can see the likenesses and differences between each other. Three times a year, the Pretend City Home exhibit will completely change to reflect the “real” lives of a featured Orange County family. Your family could be next to move into Our Home! The Our Home exhibit showcases the featured family’s customs, decor, rituals, celebrations, food, and even their challenges and successes. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Post Office

Post Office

Sponsored by David and Cristin Gianulias

“Snail” mail is still vital to the smooth running of our communities and children need to experience how it all works. Post Office play will contribute to children’s sorting, categorizing and reasoning skill-building and, of course, it’s fun too! In Pretend City, parents and children can pick up mail from around town, sort it and deliver it. At a special Post Office table, children can also mail postcards home to themselves so that they can actively engage in a real-life experience of mail moving from one place to another. Learn more about this exhibit!

Pretend City Park

Sponsored by the Arman and Azin Rashtchi Family

Real Café

Real Café

Sponsored by Kai and Sinan Kanatsiz