Everything from the Mars Curiosity rover to the first U.S. satellite (Explorer 1 in 1958) all began as scientists’ dreams and were transformed into innovative and exciting real-world technology in one place — the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.
One of the most popular attractions in Pasadena, this NASA-funded laboratory offers guests an in-depth look into the history of, and stories behind, some of NASA’s most innovative pieces of technology, along with information on the solar system, planets, galaxies and stars.
Families are invited to tour the facilities — free of charge — which include a multimedia presentation that covers the lab’s various accomplishments, projects and activities, as well as the von Karman Visitor Center, the Spacecraft Assembly Facility and the Space Flight Operations Facility.
The tours are well-detailed and structured, and last between two and 2.5 hours. But be warned — these tours are popular, and reservations must be made well in advance (generally three to four months), with a finalized roster submitted three weeks prior to the date of your tour. Visitors 18 years and older are required to present official government issued photo identification (driver’s license or passport).