Feed Your Child’s Brain With These STEAM Museums
Families interested in introducing their children to science, technology, engineering, art and math won’t have any trouble finding opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here are some great places for families to go to explore, tinker, imagine and learn.
California Academy of Sciences – One of the largest natural history science museums in the world, this gem includes an aquarium, planetarium and a living roof. Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $35.95 adults, $30.95 youth 12-17, $29.95 children 4-11, under 4 FREE. Golden Gate Park, 55 Music Concourse Drive. 415-379-8000.
Children’s Creativity Museum – This museum promotes creativity, innovation and critical thinking through its animation studio, music studio, innovation lab, robot coding exhibit and more. It’s geared for kids ages 2-12. Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $12.95, under 2 FREE. 221 Fourth St. 415-820-3320.
Exploratorium – Founded in 1969, this center invites visitors to explore science, art and human perception. The museum’s mission is to help create a world where people think for themselves, confidently ask questions and question answers. Monday closed except select holidays, Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday evening 6-10 p.m. $29.95 adults, $24.95 youth 13-17, $19.95 youth 4-12, under 4 FREE. Pier 15, Embarcadero and Green Street. 415-528-4444.
Chabot Space and Science Center – Learn about the universe by checking out rotating exhibits, planetarium shows and visiting three telescopes. This is the largest public observatory in the nation. Monday and Tuesday closed. Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 1000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. $18 adults, $14 youth ages 3-12, $15 student. 510-336-7300.
Lawrence Hall of Science – Ignite a love of science and math in your children by taking them to this center located in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus. There are exhibits on earth and space, opportunities to learn about and see live animals including legless lizards, a DNA sculpture playground and more. Monday closed. Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $12 adults, $10 children 3-18. 1 Centennial Drive, Berkeley. 510-642-5132.
Bay Area Discovery Museum – Geared for young kids ages 6 months to 10, this museum offers an art studio featuring paint, glitter sand, blubber and more; a maker space with digital fabrication technology like 3D printing, laser cutters and vinyl cutters, exhibits on measurements, transportation and more. Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $14.95, $13.95 6-11 months and seniors. Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. 415-339-3900.
Bay Model Visitor Center – The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers runs this center, which includes a working hydraulic model of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta System. Fall and winter hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. FREE. 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito. 415-332-3871.
Marine Mammal Center – This nonprofit rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals and offers educational programs for the public. Open daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. FREE. 2000 Bunker Road, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito. 415-289-7325.
CuriOdyssey – This science and wildlife center focuses on California native animals including bobcats, river otters, raccoons and skunks. Among the exhibits is Backyard Science, which shows scientific phenomena that can be seen at home. Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $13.50 adults, $9.50 children, $8.50 students 13-17. 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo. 650-342-7755.
Hiller Aviation Museum – This center is dedicated to the adventures and innovations of aviation pioneers. The museum covers more than 100 years of aviation history and offers hints of what may come in the future. There is also a flight simulation area, a drone plex, an invention zone, an imagination playground and more. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $18 adults, $11 kids 5-17, under 5 FREE. 601 Skyway Road, San Carlos. 650-654-0200. hiller.org.
Silicon Valley/ South Bay
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose – This center includes an art gallery featuring the work of people from many cultures, an art loft where children can create, an outdoor play space, a bubble blowing area, replicas of mammoth fossils, a kid-sized play grocery market, a theater, a water play area and more. Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 12-5 p.m. $15, $14 seniors, under 1 FREE. 180 Woz Way. 408-298-5437.
Computer History Museum – Discover why computing history really dates back 2,000 years, check out artifacts from the earliest computers in the 1940s and 1950s, learn about self-driving cars and try some coding. Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $17.50 general, $13.50 students. 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. 650-810-1010.
NASA Ames Visitor Center – Learn about spacecraft missions and other projects going on at National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Closed for renovations. Check website for reopening. FREE. Moffett Field. 650-604-6497.
Tech Museum of Innovation – This interactive science and technology center offers a look into the inventiveness of Silicon Valley. There are exhibits on bio design, body metrics, cyber detectives, social robots and more. There are also drop-in activities and workshops. Open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. $25 adults, $20 students and children. 201 South Market St., San Jose. 408-294-8324.
Lisa Renner is a calendar editor at Bay Area Parent.