Chances are your kids aren’t exactly begging to be taken to a museum, but the Bay Area is blessed with a number of painless ways to expose children to culture. With the help of the Eye on the Bay crew and a few local Yelpers, we’ve compiled this list of the locales most likely to wow the little ones.

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 298-5437
Admission – $10
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

This Downtown attraction is a must-see for South Bay Kids. The relatively small museum is packed with tactile activities to engage young minds. Most little ones can get through the whole place in just a few hours, but many parents have a hard time pulling their kids out of the place.

Oakland Aviation Museum

8252 Earhart Road
Oakland, CA 94621
(510) 638-7100
Adults $9; Teens $7; Children over 5 $5
Oakland Aviation Museum

Yelp users give this Oakland museum high marks for its collection of vintage military aircraft. Children going through a truck, train and plane phase will enjoy wandering the museum in awe of the of these marvels of American engineering.

The Exploratorium

3601 Lyon St
San Francisco, CA 94123
Adults $15; Youth (12-17) $12; Children $10

The Exploratorium is an absolute must for kids with even the slightest interest in science. From the functions of simple gadgets to mind-blowing tricks of nature, the Exploratorium is every bit as engaging for kids today as it was on your first visit. For a unique experience, reserve some tickets to the Tactile Dome.  

Randall Museum

199 Museum Way
San Francisco, CA 94114
Admission – Free
Randall Museum

This gem in San Francisco’s Corona Heights neighborhood was picked out by the folks on CBS 5’s Eye on the Bay for its interactive displays with numerous animals and bugs for children to explore – for free.

Pacific Pinball Museum

1510 Webster St
Alameda, CA 94501
Adults $15; Children $7.50
Pacific Pinball Museum

Not your typical “museum,” this Alameda game gallery allows unlimited play on dozens of restored machines from a variety of eras. It’s a great place to acquaint your children with the games of your childhood.

Walt Disney Family Museum

104 Montgomery Street, The Presidio of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 345-6800
Adults $20; Children $12
Walt Disney Family Museum

Visitors to this newcomer on the Bay Area museum scene are treated to a wealth of artifacts that launched the Disney empire. This one of a kind exhibit in San Francisco’s Presidio gives visitors the possible glimpse into Walt Disney’s visionary mind. Eye on the Bay producers offer it up as a great diversion for children on your tour of the city by the bay.

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

1664 Park Ave
San Jose, CA 95191
Adults $9; Children $5
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

This San Jose field trip favorite immerses children in “the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in western North America,” per their website. If you have been there, you know that the temple-inspired architecture alone is worth a look.

Tech Museum of Innovation

201 S Market St
San Jose, CA 95113 
General Admission + Imax Educational Film $10
Tech Museum of Innovation

Appropriately located in the heart of Silicon Valley, this favorite of the Eye on The Bay crew has plenty to keep kids and adults interested. The massive IMAX dome theater is a memorable place to catch a film, but the ever-changing exhibits, designed to engage visitors, are what keep people coming back. 

Marine Mammal Center

2000 Bunker Road, Fort Cronkhite
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 289-7325
Admission – Free
Marine Mammal Center

It may be a bit of a stretch to call this functioning mammal hospital a museum, but it is an ideal place for children to learn about aquatic animals and the environmental factors that impact them. The non-profit is free to tourists during visiting hours.

California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118
Adult $29.95, Youth (12-17) $24.95; Children $14.95
California Academy of Sciences

This elegantly rebuilt Golden Gate Park hot spot sucks in visitors of all ages. Many of the favorite attractions of your childhood have been woven in around the indoor rain forest and expanded aquarium. Plan ahead by reserving planetarium seats and scoping out the rainforest line to make sure you and your children pack in everything you want to see in a single visit.

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