Makerspaces are popping up all over Southern California as a way for people to form communities and fuel their passion for tinkering. While you might join a makerspace to gain access to a 3D printer or attend classes, you’re likely stay because of the people around you. Makerspaces are hubs for creativity, and the best ones encourage collaboration and group problem solving, which turns one person’s creation into a team victory.
As makerspaces continue to grow, many are creating programs teach kids and get them involved, turning tinkering into a family event. Here are 25 amazing spaces to check out in Southern California, many of which are perfect for bringing the whole family.
With the goal of preparing children for the challenges of tomorrow, The Exploratory teaches kids to tap into their natural curiosity and embrace making mistakes. They offer a variety of workshops (and include educators in the process), all following their Tinker.Make.Innovate philosophy. This is definitely a place that can encourage a life of learning for your child.
The LA Makerspace works with the Los Angeles Public Library System to introduce kids to STEAM. They are currently working to create their own space, but for now host events in libraries across LA. Along with regular classes about robotics and e-textiles, the LA Makerspace celebrates events such as World Octopus Day by creating “Octobots” and learning about these curious sea creatures. The goal is to inspire learning through creativity.
Build It Workspace
Build It Workspace offers a “passport to build anything.” The space offers 3D printing and scanning, laser cutting and a heat press. They offer kids camps throughout the year for ages 6 and up to encourage kids to explore tools and robotics. This is a great way to introduce younger kids to the idea of making and tinkering.
Makersville is a community of people looking to encourage kids to embrace their inner creators. They are primarily located at the Long Beach Sea Base during the school year (run by the Long Beach Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America) but travel during the summer to new locations. They provide classes and activities, and are equipped with a 3D printer, laser cutter and electronics kits.
The Cube is an innovation space created by TXT (Teens Exploring Technology), a group dedicated to supporting young men of color (from 7th to 11th grade) become entrepreneurs and discover their passions for creating. They believe access to technology should be available to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic background, and their programs focus on making everything from development to virtual reality more accessible.
Described as “the only workspace you will ever need,” Urban Workshop is the third largest DIY workshop in North America. Located in Costa Mesa, the shop is an 18,500-square-foot workspace full of projects, events and learning opportunities. Urban Workshop is kid-friendly, with 12-week programs and summer camps for kids 10 and up. They also work with kids in the local community to get them excited about becoming makers.
Located in downtown Ventura, MAKE Ventura has a large variety of classes and tools to ensure you can easily complete your project with the necessary gear. This space offers memberships starting at $35 per month, though spouses and older children can be added for $15 per month. Children younger than 16 must be supervised, and children younger than 8 are free and can play in the Children’s Area.
FAB LAB San Diego
Fab Lab is a nonprofit space designed to provide tools and training to the local community. Memberships start at $75 per month, but there are family discounts for spouses and up to two kids younger than 18. They are currently accepting donations to sponsor low-income students to take their classes and find their own passion as makers.
TheLab brands itself as “LA’s Hub for Citizen Science and DIY Bio,” and it strives to make science accessible to the general public regardless of age or educational background. Like a traditional makerspace, TheLab provides equipment for exploration, but has a specific focus on scientific projects and research. Memberships start at $100 per month, but students will need a supervisor or tutor to provide guidance and ensure safety when using the equipment.
HexLab is open to students 12 and older, with packages starting at $55 per month ($80 per month for adults). The space also offers discounts for buying annual packages. Members are able to attend classes and events for free, and have access to all workstations and machinery. They offer a complete list of tools and equipment on their website, from laser cutters to 3D printers and cameras in the photo studio.
Vocademy: The Makerspace
Located in Riverside, Vocademy offers a variety of classes from costume and prop making to industrial safety. Founder Gene Sherman wanted to create a place that offered continuous training and learning 24/7. Basic plans start at $99/month, but there are multiple options for adding family members and children (14+) for a lower price. Vocademy also creates specific membership plans for organizations — like schools and companies — to work with their needs.
Null Space Labs
Null Space Labs has an open-door policy where non-members can stop by and explore the area. (Tuesdays are the best bet for visiting them when they’re open.) Membership starts at $40 per month, or you can start by checking out upcoming events on the Meetup page to get an introduction to what they’re about.
The Build Shop
The Build Shop in Koreatown specializes in 3D printing and laser cutting, and was one of the pioneers of the 3D printing movement in Los Angeles. Memberships start at $70 per month ($50 for students), though you can also attend classes on laser cutting and printing for $30.
MAG Lab is open for guests to attend classes (though there may be an additional fee), though memberships start at an affordable $35 per month. They have plenty of online forums on their website and events throughout the year to engage the community and help people accomplish whatever projects they’re hoping to create.
Fullerton’s 23bShop is one of the more eccentric makerspaces in the area. They offer plenty of public events like Hacker Happy Hour and basic knot tying, but also potlucks and movie nights to engage the community. 23bShop’s founders have been working together for more than 20 years, fueling each other’s curiosity and inspiring the people around them.
Factory eNova is a creative studio for laser engraving, UV printing and 3D printing. New members first need to take an introductory class before they can use the laser by themselves. After they pass, they can make reservations to use the laser without a membership, or sign up to become a member and receive more hours. Memberships start at $30 and reduce the rate of using the equipment.
The members at CRASH Space consist of people from all walks of life who love to break things and discover what new things they can make from the pieces. Based in Culver City, basic memberships start at $37 per month, but superusers can have full access for $109 per month. The founders follow a strict code of conduct to ensure all members are given a voice and no one feels scared or intimidated to share their thoughts.
The UMakers Makerspace is a not-for-profit community club for “artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and dreamers.” Located in Upland, they give members access to such high-tech maker tools as 3D printers, laser cutters, and even a CNC router. Sound intimidating? UMakers’ offers classes so anyone can get certified to use their fabrication equipment. Monthly fees start at $50 for students and they have a family rate of $150. Check out their blog for inspiring projects, like Upland High student Madison McCarthy’s personalized stickers.
MakerPlace is one of San Diego’s top makerspaces, with memberships starting at $160 per month. You can also purchase a punchcard for 10 visits if you just want to work on specific projects. MakerPlace offers facility tours at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., or you can take a tour of the space virtually on their website. Their site also has information on their equipment and upcoming classes.
San Diego Public Library Innovation Lab
The new Innovation Lab is almost four times the size of the old space, which means the San Diego Public Library can host regular hours, meetups and classes throughout the week. You can make an appointment or get a printing estimate online, or stop by one of their regular meetups. This space was originally founded in 2013 through a LSTA grant, but community support has allowed it to thrive and grow over the past three years.
Open Source Makers Labs
Located in Vista, OSML is the place to find anything from rocket launchers to robots. While a standard membership costs $130 per month, there are discounts for students, educators and military personnel ($70 per month). You can also attend their workshops and events if you want to connect.
Find the Orange County Makerspace in Huntington Beach, where attendees believe in learning through making. Their Meetup page is active with events and classes, or you can visit their space to work on your own project and collaborate with other artists, innovators and entrepreneurs.
The Studio at the Long Beach Public Library
Visitors can find The Studio on the lower level of the main library in Long Beach. The space is equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, Adobe Creative Suite, and many others tools and computing systems to use. You can make reservations up to seven days in advance by contacting the library. They also have VR meetups, workshops and classes throughout the week.
Conejo Valley Makerspace
The Conejo Valley Makerspace community meets every Thursday and invites makes of all ages (and experience levels) to join them in creating and brainstorming new ideas. They currently have members who are experienced in electronics, robotics, games and modeling. Their annual events include classes and a mini maker faire.
Santa Barbara Hackerspace
The Santa Barbara Hackerspace is made to be a fun space for makers and hackers to learn from each other. Membership starts are $20 per month for students and “starving hackers,” but the average membership cost is $45 per month. The SBHX is constantly adding new equipment and expanding their space with the help of members and community support.
Turns out, there are so many fantastic makerspaces in Southern California that we couldn’t quite keep the list to 25. Here’s one more we couldn’t help but add to the mix:
Los Angeles Young Makers
While not an actual makerspace, the community of Los Angeles Young Makers encourages kids as young as preschool to crete and start tinkering. They host a variety of events throughout the year for kids of all ages, interests and skill sets. They work with many of the makerspaces mentioned on this list, and are a good starting point for getting involved in the maker community and discovering what you like.