50 years ago, the first humans stepped on the moon. Here’s how the West is celebrating our ‘giant leap’


Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted away from Earth on a Saturn V rocket on July 16, 1969. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon, the first humans to do so. The three returned to Earth on July 24.

Celebrations of the 50th anniversary are planned throughout the West, many spanning July 16-24. Whether you remember that day or have experienced it only through videos and stories, it truly was “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

For the record:

3:25 p.m. July 8, 2019The caption accompanying the photograph of the Griffith Observatory has been updated to reflect the correct photo credit.

Los Angeles

The Golden Moon Celebration at Griffith Observatory will fill 10 days with activities and presentations about the moon, space and the Apollo missions. The Stations of Apollo, a scale model showing the relationship between the Earth and moon, will track Apollo 11’s round-trip flight. Astronomers, aerospace engineers, authors and journalists will reflect on Southern California’s contribution to the space race, the future of lunar travel and mysteries surrounding our cosmic neighbor.


When: July 13 and 16-24

Cost, info: Most events are free and family friendly. Service dogs only. (213) 473-0800,


Watch “Apollo 11: The Immersive Live Show,” beginning with the countdown and Saturn V rocket launch to the moon, while sitting under a huge dome at the Rose Bowl. The show includes live performances and videos projected onto 40,000 square feet of screen.

When: Times vary through Aug. 11

Info: From $45. The Saturn rocket sound is very loud; service dogs only. (833) 527-6556,

San Diego

The Day We Walked on the Moon eventat the San Diego Air & Space Museum celebrates the moon landing with behind-the-scenes tours of the new exhibition “Space: Our Greatest Adventure” as well as space-inspired activities and the premiere of the Smithsonian Channel documentary “The Day We Walked on the Moon.”

When: 6:30 p.m. July 20

Info: Event is included in museum admission: adults $19.95; seniors (65 and older), students (with student ID) and retired military (with ID) $16.95; youth (3-11 years) $10.95; active duty military (with ID) and children (3 and younger) free. Certified service animals only; (619) 234-8291,


San Francisco

July, a.k.a. Moon Month, at the Exploratorium science museum on Pier 15 will be filled with lunar lore, activities, exhibits and programs as well as science story times for tots. On July 20 the Exploratorium will stay open until midnight for celebrants to watch newly restored Apollo 11 footage and dance to music from the Apollo era.

When: 10 a.m. July 1-31, with special events on July 20

Info: Adults $29.95; seniors ( 65 and older), disabled, teachers, students (18 and older) and youth (age 13-17) $24.95; children ( 4-12) $19.95; children (3 and younger) free. Dogs on leash OK. (415) 528-4444,

Alameda, Calif.

The U.S. Navy ship that recovered Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 in the Pacific Ocean is now a museum and will host eight days of celebrations and activities. The USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum has permanent exhibitions about the space race and splashdown, as well as two space capsules (on loan) used for testing. The California Academy of Sciences offers a mobile observatory July 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the ship; more festivities take place July 24, the 50th anniversary of the Hornet’s recovery of the Apollo 11 astronauts.

When: July 16-24

Info: Apollo events free with regular admission: adults $20 plus fees, seniors (65 years and older) $15 plus fees; youth (7-17) $10 plus fees, children (6 and younger) free; additional fees for Splashdown anniversary dinner on July 20; Service animals only. (510) 521-8448,

McClellan, Calif.

Visitors to the Apollopalooza event at the Aerospace Museum of California will celebrate the moon landing by taking docent tours of Apollo artifacts, experiencing a moon-mission virtual reality journey, a “mad science” show, “Star Wars” cosplay and films from NASA and the Smithsonian

When: 10 a.m. July 20

Info: Adults $15 plus fees; seniors (65 years and older), teachers and veterans $10; children (4-17) $10; children (3 and younger) free. No dogs. (916) 643-3192,


Space-themed events will happen at the Arizona Science Center through July, but the big celebration is July 20 with hands-on activities. Exhibits cover the Earth, sun and the rest of the universe. Be sure to catch the film “Apollo 11: The First Steps 2D” in the giant-screen theater through the summer.

When: 10 a.m. July 20

Info: Adults $18 (online); children (3-17 years) $13; children (2 and younger) free. Service animals only. (602) 716-2000,

Flagstaff, Ariz.

Celebrate Apollo 11 and the Lowell Observatory’s lunar legacy with tours, moon exhibits, videos of Armstrong stepping onto the moon, chats with an astronomer and, for children, hands-on lunar-themed science experiments about the moon’s temperature, lack of atmosphere and distance from the Earth.

When: July 20

Info: Adults $17; seniors ( 65 and older), AAA members, college students and military $16; children (5-17) $10; children (4 and younger) free. Service dogs only in some areas. (928) 774-3358,

Portland, Ore.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is dedicating July to Apollo so planetarium and star-party programs will focus on astronomy, space science, the moon and Apollo 11. July 16 will be rocket day; July 24 will feature a space trivia night. July 20 is space day with virtual-reality experiences, films, demonstrations and astronomy-themed activities.

When: Throughout July

Info: Adults $14.50; seniors (63 and older) $11.25; youth (3-13) $9.75; children (2 and younger) free. Additional fees for planetarium, submarine and theater. Service animals only. (503) 797-4000,

Ashland, Ore.

If you’re attending the Shakespeare Festival but want some nonfiction activity, see “Apollo 50: Small Steps to a Giant Leap” exhibition at the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum. Guests can try their space-flight skills with a lunar-lander simulator and check out a real NASA Mission Control console. They can also participate in virtual-reality space situations and see what they would look like jumping on the low-gravity moon.

When: 11 a.m. July 20

Info: Adults and teens $12; seniors (ages 65 and older) $10; children (ages 2-12) $10; toddlers (younger than 2) free. No dogs. (541) 482-6767,


At “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” exhibition at the Museum of Flight, visitors see the Columbia, the command module that Collins piloted while Armstrong and Aldrin flew the lunar module to the moon’s surface and back. The three-day Lunar Block Party will feature 1960s music and festivities on July 19; a concert with “American Idol” contestants on July 20; and an adults-only gourmet luncheon with astronauts, scientists and engineers on July 21.

When: Lunar Block Party July 19-21; “Destination Moon” exhibition through Sept. 2

Info: Museum admission adults $25; seniors (ages 65 and older) $21; youth (ages 5-17) $16; children (4 years and younger) free. Additional fees for “Destination Moon” and Lunar Block Party events (which include museum admission). Service dogs only. (206) 764-5700,


The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum will host an eight-day Apollopalooza featuring scientists, researchers, industry leaders and former astronauts, including Apollo 17’s Harrison H. Schmitt.

When: July 13-20; 10 a.m. Monday-Saturday; noon July 14

Info: Adults day pass: $27.95 and weekly pass $185; children (4-16) day pass: $22.95 and weekly pass $100; children ( 3 and younger) free. Additional fees for special events. Service dogs with visible certificates permitted. (303) 360-5360, Ext. 105.

The Colorado Symphony’s Lunar Landing 50th Annniversary Celebration will feature musical interpretations of space, including John Williams’ scores for “Star Wars,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Former NASA astronaut Richard Hieb is scheduled to narrate.

When: 7:30 p.m. July 20

Info: From $15 plus fees. Service dogs only. (303) 623-7876,

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Arco, Idaho

The national monument and preserve, with its desolate lunar-type volcanic landscape, served as a training ground for four Apollo 14 astronauts. The Moonfest celebration at the Visitor Center theater includes films, music, presentations by a space shuttle astronaut, STEM activities and a chance to view the moon with an astro-ranger. Craters of the Moon is also an International Dark Skies Park, so you can look at billions of stars.

When: 9:30 a.m. July 20

Info: Vehicle entrance $20. No dogs in visitor center and amphitheater. (208) 527-1335,


Space Center Houston, the visitors center for the nearby NASA Johnson Space Center, has celebrations July 16-24. Artifacts include the Apollo 17 Command Module, the restored Apollo Mission Control Center, a lunar roving trainer, a lunar landing module and Apollo spacesuits. Activities include a concert, space-art exhibit, Apollo trivia contests and a NASA tram tour featuring a massive Saturn V rocket that lifted people to the moon. The visitors center also offers tours to the actual Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.

When: July 16-24

Info: Ticket prices vary with day and event. Family friendly; service animals only. (281) 244-2100,

Other states

For Apollo events throughout the country, visit NASA’s Space STEM Forum map at