Museum visitors are often told not to touch anything, but not at the museums listed here! These seven local Marin County and San Francisco Bay Area museums offer lots of fun hands-on activities for kids and families. They're perfect for rainy-day outings or any time, really.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
Families with kids up to age 8 love Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum for its combination of hands-on fun, exciting programs and performances, rotating special exhibitions (currently it's Curious George: Let's Get Curious), and a great play area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. It's a fantastic place to play away the day and take in the amazing views. Location: Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, 94965. Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 9 am–5 pm. More info: www.baykidsmuseum.org or (415) 339-3900.
It's a safe bet that few if any of us remember Playland at the Beach, that bygone San Francisco beachside amusement park that closed back in the early 1970s. This popular attraction, once located across from Ocean Beach near Sutro Heights and the Cliff House offered up fun like the Big Dipper roller coaster, Fun House, Diving Bell, Ferris wheel, the infamous Laffing Sal automaton, restaurants, and more. It was even the birthplace of the Bay Area's favorite ice cream treat, the It's-It ice cream sandwich! Not much remains of Playland (its site is not home to a condo development), but if you want to get a taste of what it was had to offer, head across the Bay to El Cerrito and pay a visit to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach.
This Saturday, April 30, 2016, put your imagination in gear and come to Oak View Nursery School for their fourth annual Touch a Truck event! At Touch a Truck, kids (and grownups, too) will get a chance to get behind the wheel of some amazing vehicles and rub elbows with their hometown heroes.
Come and explore and get behind the wheel of your favorite vehicles, including a fire truck, dump truck, police car, school bus, tow truck, ambulance, rescue truck, recycle truck, construction vehicles, and more. There promises to be a parking lot full of cool trucks this year! It will definitely be a day to remember.
Touch a Truck takes place from 9:30 am to noon (rain or shine). Admission is $5 per person (cash only, please), and kids under 1 are free. Baked goods and beverages will be available for sale, too. All proceeds from this event will fund special programing for Oak View Nursery School students.
It's hard to resist the romantic notion of riding the rails in a car pulled by an old-fashioned steam locomotive. It's something that captivates most kids—and many adults, too. Fortunately for railroad-obsessed kids and their parents, we have plenty of opportunities to take a real train ride in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, even if it is on a working scale-model! Many of these train rides are a short distance away, and some are great excuses for a day trip or weekend getaway. All of them are a lot of fun! Whether it's a miniature scale railroad or the full-size real deal, the sights and sounds of a train ride are unforgettable.
Keep in mind that many of these railroads keep to seasonal schedules, and rides are often weather permitting. Some offer train rides on weekends only. Make sure you check their websites or give them a call before you plan your visit.
Take your family to UC Berkeley on Saturday, April 16, from 9 am to 5 pm to see all that the university has to offer at their annual Cal Day open house. Explore over 400 lectures, demonstrations, and tours taking place across campus, and learn about everything from architecture to zoology.
Learn about Cal spirit and traditions; listen to live music by the Cal Band and other performers; tour museums, like the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and the Museum of Paleontology; and learn about science, engineering, technology, and more with hands-on fun. Prospective Cal students will also have a chance to learn about admissions, programs and resources at the university.
Next month, the Year of the Ram comes to an end and the Year of the Monkey begins! Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year takes starts on Monday, February 8.
As with many major holidays, there's plenty of family fun to be found in Marin County and all over the San Francisco Bay Area, ranging from a Chinese New Year Festival at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito on Monday, February 15 to the big blowout Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco on Saturday, February 20.
Here are a dozen fun family Chinese New Year events not to miss in the Bay Area:
It's a New Year, so why not resolve to spend more time outdoors as a family? Get some exercise, explore Marin County's many parks and open space preserves, and learn about the natural wonders that can be found all around us. A fantastic and eye-opening way to get out and experience nature in Marin is to take part in one of the naturalist-led family outings offered by Marin County Parks.
The parks department's Nature for Kids outings take place at Marin's many open space areas, and feature a leisurely, kid-paced hike with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way. The hikes are informal and unstructured, and perfect for kids of all ages, although they seem geared for kids ages 3 to 12.
Led by experienced and knowledgeable naturalists like David Herlocker, these hikes allow everyone in the family to get up-close-and-personal with insects, reptiles, spiders, birds, and other flora and fauna that call Marin home. The programs are really fascinating and will make you look at our open spaces in a completely different way.
It's Thanksgiving week, and since most Marin County schools give kids the entire week off, you'll probably be looking for ways to keep them occupied before and after Turkey Day. Here are our top 10 activities for families for Thanksgiving break:
The Bay Area Science Festival returns October 22 through November 7, 2015, providing a wide range of science and technology activities, including exhibitions, hands-on activities, concerts, plays, workshops, and more, at locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including many in Marin and the North Bay. Programs include Discovery Days for families, held in conjunction with local science outreach groups, Signature Performances, which feature high-profile science acts from around the country, and Explorer Days, tours that highlight the scientific wonders of the Bay Area.
Families in Marin and Sonoma County can take part in the North Bay Science Discovery Day, taking place on Saturday, October 24 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. This free event features local organizations like Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Dominican University of California, California State Parks, the Marin County Free Library, Kaiser Permanente, Marinovators, the MV Code Club, the Pacific Coast Air Museum, Play-Well TEKnologies, Safari West, San Marin High School's robotics club and STEM program, Sonoma Raceway, the Space Station Museum, WildCare, and many many more. Plan on staying all day to experience all the fun!