Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Put some pop culture into your date night, get inspired by a thought leader lecture or wax nostalgic over vintage pinball machines. Gaze at Jupiter through a telescope or check out Claude, the albino alligator. From a pop culture experience at the wax museum to a science immersion at a San Francisco museum, why not do something a little bit different on your next date night?

Night Hikes
Chabot Space and Science Center
10000 Skyline Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 336-7300

Up in the Oakland Hills, the Chabot Space and Science Center offers a couple of night hikes every month. They’re easy one or two-mile outings through the redwoods starting at 6 p.m. After the hike, stay and explore Jupiter and the starry sky, plus other amazing night sky objects seen through three telescopes: Nellie, a powerful, modern one of research quality; Rachel, among the largest ones in the western USA available to the public; and Leah, an instrument with an 1883 vintage. Enjoy complimentary observatory admission on Friday and Saturday nights until 10 p.m., 10:30 p.m. in summer — weather allowing.

Madame Tussauds, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Madame Tussauds
145 Jefferson St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(866) 223-4240

Take a selfie with the wax celebrities? Madame Tussauds doesn’t use ropes and barriers, but they do provide props, so you can get up close with local icons like activist Harvey Milk in the Castro District and crooner Tony Bennett on the crookedest street. Janis Joplin is hanging out in Golden Gate Park beside her psychedelic-painted VW, Bruce Lee is caught mid-kick and the authentic Steve Jobs likeness is waiting for you to snap him with your iPhone camera. On Friday and Saturday nights, last entry is 8:00pm.

Exploratorium, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Exploratorium After Dark
Pier 15 on The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 528-4444

On Thursday nights from 6 to 10 p.m., the adult-only 18+ evening programs have something different going on each week. Take a deep dive into plankton, have a giggle with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or explore some shocking facts about electricity. Thursdays After Dark include a cash bar and film screenings, late night opening of Seaglass Restaurant, plus an opportunity to play with the Exploratorium’s 600 hands-on exhibits.

California Academy of Sciences (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

California Academy Of Sciences NightLife
55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 379-8000

First date? There’s plenty to stimulate conversation, walking around a museum with a cocktail in hand. No wonder there’s a crowd wanting to get into the Cal Academy for Thursday NightLife. Buy your tickets online to save time and bring an ID for the 21+ event. Beginning at 6 p.m., you get four hours to prowl around for one-third the normal price of admission. Get a pass for the planetarium show, do the rainforest, check out the earthquake exhibit, soak up the aquarium. Every week features something different, from a ballet performance to a magic show.

Pacific Pinball Museum (credit: Roberta Gonzales/CBS Local)

Pacific Pinball Museum
1510 Webster St.
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 769-1349

Be a pinball wizard with a date night idea at a working museum. Imagine five rooms filled with pinball machines from vintage to the latest, and open until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Admission is $15 and the machines are all set to free play, so no quarters needed and you can play as much as you like. Buy some popcorn and test your skills. The walls are covered with vintage posters; it’s funky, fun and nostalgic, from Indiana Jones to Twilight Zone and the Addams Family. The machines are in A-1 condition, so a good time is guaranteed.

Inforum, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Inforum At The Commonwealth Club
555 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 597-6731

Make it a date to remember with tickets to attend a cutting-edge Inforum event with a celebrity-status speaker at the Castro Theater, Nourse Theater or another outstanding San Francisco venue. Recent speakers presenting in the club’s conversational style have included Kim Kardashian, James Franco, Marc Benioff and Wendy Davis. Inforum is the innovation lab of the Commonwealth Club of California, the nation’s oldest and largest civic forum. You can count on an electric atmosphere and a lively discussion; the programs are a definite turn-on for brainiacs.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Bay City Guide, AXS, Examiner and more.