(credit: California Academy of Sciences)
San Francisco residents are blessed with almost year-round mild weather. For those rare days when the mercury drops and the clouds roll in, there are plenty of indoor options to keep the kiddos occupied. The city is home to a number of different themed child-centered interactive museums, as well as the Walt Disney Family museum. Here are five of the best places to take kids in San Francisco when the weather turns sour.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Recently relocated to Pier 15 from the Palace of Fine Arts, the Exploratorium is a massive interactive art and science museum. Appealing to kids of all ages, the Exploratorium has hands-on exhibits on topics such as astronomy, vision, hearing, the human body and physics. The new spot can definitely keep the whole family entertained for a full day. Make sure to check out the tornado exhibit and don’t forget the hand sanitizer as everything here is very hands-on.
199 Museum Way
San Francisco, CA 94114
Located in the Castro District, the Randall Museum is run by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. This natural sciences and arts museum offers free admission (although donations are greatly appreciated) to its hands-on exhibits and mini zoo. Most of the animals are either indigenous to the area or are rescued pets, and include numerous birds, raccoons, reptiles, insects and a small petting zoo with chickens, ducks and bunnies. Inside, kids will enjoy the puppet theater, model train system and interactive earthquake exhibit where they can build a Lego structure and see if it will withstand the shaking of an earthquake. The museum also holds a number of classes in woodwork, art, ceramics and gardening.
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
Nestled in the heart of Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences will easily amaze the whole family. Among other things, the museum contains a planetarium, an aquarium, a four-story-tall rainforest and a swamp that is home to an albino alligator. Other favorite attractions are the African penguin exhibit and the 2.5-acre living green roof observation deck. Stroll the roof garden to view a plethora of native California plants. In order to catch all of the exhibits, pack a lunch for the family and plan on spending the entire day.
221 4th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
The Children’s Creativity Museum is the perfect spot for elementary school-aged children to spend a rainy day exploring their creative side. There is a bit of everything here, and kids can burn off energy using hula hoops, sand boxes, the jungle gym or riding the carousel. There is a percussion room where children can bang away on instruments and make as much noise as they like. Artsy children enjoy the numerous craft stations playing with paints, modeling clay or drawing. The museum also offers a dress-up room, karaoke, books and a building block area. Make a day of it and grab some lunch or a movie at the IMAX theater next door. Re-entry is allowed with a hand stamp.
104 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94129
Located inside the Presidio, The Walt Disney Family Museum is dedicated to showcasing the life and works of Walt Disney. Co-founded by Disney’s daughter and grandson, the museum includes multiple mixed-media, interactive exhibits, including video, music and animation. Disney fans will love this museum and both its permanent and rotating art exhibits which include both Disney-themed art, as well as works by prior Disney artists. The museum offers student and AAA discounts, and has a museum store worth browsing.
Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.