Choose Location:

Great Valley Natural History Museum

  • 5

(1 reviews)
View Photos (3)
Great Valley Natural History Museum
1100 Stoddard Avenue
ModestoCA 95350
(209) 575-6196

Ages: 0 and up

Cost: Free - 6 and under free | $3 per family | or $1 per person

Parking: Yes - spots at rear of building, street available also

Features: Shop, Picnic Area, Family Friendly, Discounts, Restrooms

The Great Valley Museum of Natural History is a non-profit educational treasure trove of activities and exhibits for nature lovers.  Exotic animals from around the world are showcased in The Great Animal Hall, while the In Your Backyard exhibit features the ever-present but often unseen animals all around.  The museum offers tours that concentrate on specific topics, like the Central Valley habitat displays of the Yokut and Miwok Indians.  The Toulumne river watershed exhibit features the amazing life cycle of the Chinook Salmon, and in the Habitat Room, visitors will discover which native plants and animals live within the six different ecosystems of the area. 

A variety of classes are available at the museum, so check the events page often.

The Discovery Room at the back of the museum is a fully-interactive space for children to enjoy games, books and activities.  For extra credit, pick up a laminated "quiz sheet" to learn everything there is to learn at the Great Valley Museum!


The Great Valley Museum can put the ANIMAL back into PARTY ANIMAL by bringing live animals to your home or a park near you.  The one hour presentation focused on unique animal behaviors is geared towards children ages 5-12 and includes games and hands-on animal fun.  Participants cannot exceed 15.  Party favors can be arranged; please ask for details when calling.  Cost for museum members is $70, non-members $85, with a $25 deposit required.  Call the museum to schedule.

Hours of operation: Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30am-3:30pm; open 2nd & 4th Saturdays only. Discounts given to MJC students with current student ID.

1 Reviews

Sort by:


  • 5

Reviewed on 02/28/2011

Truly one of Modesto's gems! The area's flora and fauna come to life at Great Valley Museum of Natural History. While the space itself is small, the content within the walls is dense and informative.

My younger children (aged 5 and 7) were enthralled by the Tuolumne River exhibit, which each showcased a habitat found in and around the river and the animals that live in it. (Taxidermy was a bonus topic we explored in discussion on the thankfully short drive home.)

My older child (11) was wowed by the Native American exhibit which had a few artifacts of the "daily life" type tools used by the Miwok and Yokut Indians.

I found the information on the life cycle and preserved specimens of salmon extremely interesting. The "circle of life" type game was really quite fun (since I'm not really a tiny salmon fry or even a medium-sized salmon smolt) and illustrates just how amazing it is that these fish make it to be spawning adults

The area we spent the most amount of time in was the learning annex at the rear of the museum. Along the back wall there are a number of creepy crawlies in terrariums (spiders, snakes, lizards). Elsewhere in the room, visitors will find stacks and stacks of books; games, quizzes and interactive displays that reinforce the need to keep the earth clean; and even a few dress-up items available for impromptu re-enactments of the day's learning.

Side notes:

Upon entering the museum, the first thing visitors will notice will be the gift shop; while admission is very reasonable, the savings there might be gone once your small museum-goer peruses the items.

Parking is easy enough during regular business hours, but I imagine that if there are events, parking is impacted. There are a number of dedicated parking spots for museum visitors BEHIND the building, just turn right down the alley once you've passed the museum. Street parking is sometimes available, but remember this is adjacent to Modesto Junior College, so some spots require parking permits.

Great Valley Natural History Museum