The Zimmer Children's Museum, the hugely popular Miracle Mile hub for the preschool set, is making a break for the beach, picking up more space and a new name along the way. Soon to be known as the Cayton Children's Museum, it will create a whole new reason to go to Santa Monica Place, that mall with the ocean view at the end of the Third Street Promenade—giving families one more reason to spend a day in the seaside suburb.
The Beverly Hills adjacent museum has been located at the Jewish Federation Goldsmith Center on Wilshire Boulevard nearly 20 years. A big draw for families with young children especially, the Zimmer has hosted roughly 85,000 guests annually at its 14,000 square foot space. The new Cayton Museum in Downtown Santa Monica increases that size to 21,000 square feet and is expected to draw 250,000 visitors annually. This level of popularity is easy to imagine, situated walking distance from hugely popular family destinations like the Santa Monica Pier, the Santa Monica Aquarium, the Third Street Promenade, Tongva Park, and, of course, the beach. Adding a children's museum to the mix sounds like a slam dunk.
Move-in day is still unknown, but 2019 is the year. Fans of the museum don't need to worry about down time, though; we've been assured by staff that the plan is for a smooth move from one location to the next, without any planned closure of the Zimmer before the Cayton is ready to open its doors. And for those sad to be losing the mid-city location, the Expo line might soften the blow; the museum is located right next to the last stop on the rail line to the sea.
The Zimmer is already popular for its play areas, educational programs, camps, classes, and parties; the new location will be adding a museum store as well as expanding a program for underserved teens. The move has been several years in the planning, according to board chair Andy Kaplan, with the goal of reaching many more families with its free and paid programs.
The museum will be located on Level 3, in the former Market location. Photo courtesy of Santa Monica Place
The addition of the Cayton Children's museum at Santa Monica Place is a major development for the upscale mall, which launched its current design in 2010 with a distinctly adult ambiance. The SAMO the Whale play structure that was added in the food court a few years ago has provided more of a family draw, but becoming the new home to a popular children's museum will knock it out of the park and establish this Westside mall as the most family friendly for miles around. The museum will be on the third level, next to the Arclight Cinema.
It's exciting news for families—for those who'd like to see a bigger Zimmer with more light, more programs, and more parking, and for Santa Monica parents hungry for more educational outings and indoor play without taking to the freeways. If you've got young kids, this is one grand opening that can't come soon enough!