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.
Have fun at the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s iceless skating rink this holiday season. Photo: Bay Area Discovery Museum
The holidays are a perfect time for a family visit to a museum, where you can both have fun and learn something indoors. Many local San Francisco Bay Area museums offer fun holiday-themed programs, including hands-on activities, special exhibits, and more. You'll even find ice skating and real live reindeer! Here are six of our favorite local museums worth visiting with the kiddos this holiday season.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
During the holiday season, family favorite the Bay Area Discovery Museum offers a synthetic "iceless" skating rink for all the fun of ice skating without the cold and icy falls. They'll also hold a Noon Year's Eve party from 9 am–2 pm on December 31 with a noontime ball drop, music by DJ ManCub, and more. Location: Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, 94965. www.bayareadiscoverymuseum.org
This year, Hanukkah begins on Saturday, December 24. Families in Marin will find plenty of opportunities to celebrate the Festival of Light, with public menorah lightings and fun events featuring storytelling, games, delicious treats like latkes and sufganiyot (donuts), and more. Here's a rundown of family friendly Hanukkah celebrations and events in and around Marin this winter.
Festival of Lights at the Osher Marin JCC
Sunday, December 11, 9:30 am–2 pm
The Osher Marin JCC celebrates Hanukkah early with their Festival of Lights on Sunday, December 11! This fun and free family party features live music, delicious food, an artisan marketplace, a bounce house, face painting, and more. Location: Osher Marin JCC, 200 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael 94903. Learn more.
Go snow sledding in downtown San Rafael at the annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland
Thanksgiving week is next 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 27 through November 5, 2016, 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.
Spending time in the outdoors as a family this fall can be both fun and educational: get some exercise, explore Marin County's many parks and open space preserves, take advantage of our often lovely fall weather, 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.
Bioneers is bringing back their popular Family Fair on Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 2016 at the Marin County Fairgrounds in San Rafael. This unique learning-and-play program is free for families with kids 12 and under. Come learn from some of the country’s top nature-inspired education masters and have fun exploring a wide array of experiential education activities.
Attendance to the Family Fair is free for families, or check out the Bioneers Conference with a Tandem Ticket, allowing the kids to do kid things while two adults trade off experiencing the conference and hanging with kids at Family Fair.
One of the activities we love to do is kayaking. It's a fantastic way to experience nature and peacefully explore local waterways. What we love most about it is that it's an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages! Tandem kayaks often have a third seat for a small child, and kids can easily pick up the skills needed to paddle their craft through the water. It's fun and great exercise.
For beginners, all these kayak rental outfits offer the sit-on-top style ocean kayaks, which are stable, lightweight, and easy to paddle. The only drawback is that you can get a little wet while you're paddling, but then that's part of the fun. We've kayak on lakes, bays, and rivers, and each type of location offers a different experience.
Celebrate all things outer space at the annual Novato Space Festival at the Pacheco Plaza shopping center. This fun and educational family event is presented by the Space Station Museum and takes place Saturday, August 6 from 10 am to 4 pm at the museum and on Pacheco Plaza's Center Stage. Admission and parking are free! Over 4,000 people attended this event last year.
Meet real astronaut including Al Worden, who participated in the Apollo 15 moon mission; Charlie Duke, an Apollo 16 moon walker; and Novato's own shuttle astronaut Yvonne Cagle. Participating organizations include Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, the Planetary Society, NASA Ames Center, the National Space Society, and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
Visitors will also get a chance to check out the Space Station Museum's exhibits, including a 90% scale mockup of a lunar lander and an exact replica of an Apollo moon buggy, participate in hands-on interactive exhibits under the Big Tent, meet R2D2 and Imperial Stormtroopers, sit in a jet fighter cockpit, play with the San Marin Robotics Club, and more!