One of the highlights, if not the most favorite spot of our San Francisco trip was our visit to Exploratorium. When we were planning our itinerary, we knew on our last day it was going to be rainy. Exploratorium was the perfect indoor destination for kids, while rest of our family enjoyed their downtime after a busy and exhausting week in and around San Francisco. I assumed it was going to be fun for kids, but I never expected it to so good that kids want to go back to San Francisco just to visit Exploratorium again.
Exploratorium is located at Pier 15. We took a MUNI streetcar near a stop from our hotel. We arrived around 10:30 am. The ticket prices for adults ($29.95) were a little bit expensive in my opinion. Kids under 3 are free. Kids between 4-12 are $19.95. For kids, the price was totally worth it.
We visited Exploratorium on a Friday. There were many student groups visiting. I was worried that it was going to be quite crowded inside. However, Exploratorium is quite big. We observed where school kids were and decided to start from the opposite end. After we got our tickets and entered, these fun “water fountains” welcomed us. Of course, kids had to try them.
Exploratorium has 600 on-hands exhibits. When I say hands on, I mean there is not one structure, exhibit or activity that kids can not either push a button, touch, manipulate and even construct. Therefore, the visit takes time but in a good way. Kids never got bored, or complained that they were bored. They tried everything one or more times. I just let them be because we had no where else to be.
Exploratorium has 6 main galleries. Livings Systems in East Gallery is one of them. You get to explore living things from cells to organisms ecosystems. Not photographed here but development and evolution of fungi exhibit was very interesting.
Cells of living things.
Cell portraits Tornadoes (extreme weather in general) are one of my son’s obsessions.
There are outdoor exhibits as well. It was raining that day, so we stayed inside at Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery, watching outside under an umbrella!
We learned about climate.
We learned about geography and ecology of the Bay Area.
For all us, most interesting gallery was Seeing & Listening. The experiments with light, vision, sound and hearing were mind blowing. This one is observing the oscillations of guitar string.
Mirrors are always fun.
The next best gallery was Tinkering Gallery. This is an artwork replicating San Francisco made of 100,000 toothpicks by Scott Weaver.
Electricity activities were great. There were so many hands on building activities similar to snap circuits. When we came back, kids kept playing with snap circuits for a while.
Magnetic activities with iron powder
We spent at least 15 minutes here playing with magnetic iron powder. Luckily, there were no other kids waiting for us to move on.
The food options are great. Sea Glass restaurant offers a variety of healthy options, including selections for restricted diets. The view of the bay from the restaurant is amazing. It was foggy that day, which made our view mysterious.
We literally had to be dragged out at 5:00pm and we couldn’t even visit the Human Phenomena Gallery.
Later I found something that made me and the kids very happy Exploratorium has apps where you can continue to experience sound experiments.
If you are traveling to San Francisco, I highly recommend you to add Exploratorium to your itinerary.