Museums for Kids

Free Activities for Families Affected by the North Bay Fires

October 14, 2017

California Academy of SciencesThe California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate park is offering free admission to families affected by the North Bay fires through this Sunday.

Many of our readers live in Sonoma County, and we're heartbroken at the destruction from the fires raging there right now. With many Sonoma and Napa families evacuated from their homes, and many families in Marin hosting them (we're one of them!), everyone is by now looking for something to take their minds off the sad situation. Many local museums, indoor play areas, and other attractions are offering free admission for those affected by the fires so families can get out of the smoke and enjoy themselves, recharge, and relax for a while.

Here's a list of places offering free admission to those affected by the North Bay fires. Listings with an asterisk (*) denote indoor spaces where you can get out of the smoke. Most require eligible visitors to check in at the admission desk when visiting. Follow the links in the titles for more information.

Get Ready for the Goblin Jamboree at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

October 9, 2017

Goblin Jamboree

Come get a jump on Halloween at the 31st annual Goblin Jamboree fundraiser at the Bay Area Discovery Museum! Bring your little goblins to this year’s spooky family event on Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22 from 10 am to 4 pm. This year’s theme is "Witches and Wizards" and they have put together a cauldron of spooky themed programs and activities to entertain your entire family.

Ride a train or real ponies, create your own wand and potions, make your way through a broom obstacle course and some hay mazes, play with glow-in-the-dark trains in the Bay Hall, explore the spooky sticker room, and and enjoy a full brew of games, activities and live entertainment. This year's event will feature live musical performances from the JimBo Trout, Juice and Jelly, and Beau Mathews. This event is the perfect Halloween party for kids ages 6 months to 10 years.

Visit a Museum for Free in September

August 31, 2017

The Exploratorium in San Francisco is free on September 23.

Did you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.

Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; see details with each museum listing in our ultimate guide to San Francisco Bay Area museum free days below.

Where to Watch the Solar Eclipse in Marin and the Bay Area

August 19, 2017

Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

In case you haven't noticed, there's going to be a total solar eclipse on Monday morning! On August 21 at approximately 9:05 am, the moon will start to pass in front of the sun, with maximum coverage occurring at around 10:15 am. This is the first eclipse visible across the entire continental US since 1979 and the last until 2024.

Unfortunately, in the Bay Area we won't get to see the sun completely blocked—you'll have to go to parts of Oregon, Idaho, Georgia or somewhere else for that, but 78% of it will be hidden from view, so the effects should still be dramatic! Here's our guide to places for solar eclipse viewing in Marin and the Bay Area on Monday, many of which will offer free eclipse-viewing glasses, usually on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dive into the Reef at California Academy of Science's Teen Science Night

August 7, 2017

#TeenScienceNight at the California Academy of Sciences

Calling all Bay Area teens! The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is hosting its fifth annual #TeenScienceNight this Friday, August 11, 2017, from 6:30–9 pm. This event—the world's largest teen-only science event—features fun sciences programs, experiments, and talks, as well as food, music, and dancing. And, best of all, no adults are allowed, only teens ages 13 to 18. Admission is free.

Visit a Museum for Free in August

July 31, 2017

Bay Area Discovery MuseumThe Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito is free on the first Wednesday of the month.

Did you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.

Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; see details with each museum listing in our ultimate guide to San Francisco Bay Area museum free days below.

Amazing Family Sleepovers in the Bay Area and Beyond

July 31, 2017

Monterey Bay Aquarium Overnight
Photo courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

If you're looking for a fun and unique overnight experience for the family, try camping out at a museum, aquarium zoo, or wildlife center! Popular family destinations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California like the California Academy of Sciences, the Marine Mammal Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the San Francisco Zoo, the USS Hornet Museum, and Safari West all offer exciting programs where families can spend the night. It's be kind of like the movie Night at the Museum, except that the dinosaurs and dioramas won't come alive after hours (we hope)!

Needless to say, all of these events require advance reservations and have limited space, so register for your awesome overnight adventure soon! Many of these venues also offer overnight programs for scouts, schools, and other youth groups. All information is correct at time of posting; check each location’s website for complete information, pricing updates, and a schedule of events.

Planes, Air Museums, and Aviation Fun in the San Francisco Bay Area

July 7, 2017

Wings Over Wine Country Air Show

If your kids are obsessed with planes and flying machines, then take a family outing to one of these San Francisco Bay Area air museums, airshows, and other aviation destinations. Some of these places even include the opportunity to climb aboard and sit behind the controls of real historic aircraft, while others offer the chance to watch planes and helicopters in action in the air. There's something for all ages! Please keep in mind that hours and admission details can change, so check museum websites or call before you go.

Live Reptile Birthday Parties at Marin Treks

May 29, 2017

Marin Treks Birthday Parties

Have you been to the Marin Treks Natural History Museum yet? It's a great place to take the kids to learn about nature and the environment and to have some hands-on fun with their collection of live animals. Did you know they also offer awesome birthday parties, too?

Let Marin Treks make your child's next birthday party a day to remember! You can hold your party at their museum in Novato, or outdoors in your backyard or in a local park. Marin Treks' exciting hands-on birthday adventures allow the birthday girl or boy and their guests to hold and learn fun facts about the museum's amazing collection of live reptiles. Discuss where they live, what they eat, how they avoid predators, and a whole lot more. The children are encouraged to ask as many questions as they can and then try to answer their own questions by carefully observing the animals, just like real scientists.

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