Museums for Kids

The Insider's Guide to Visiting Tiburon for Families

March 5, 2017

Tiburon

Tiburon, that "nearly perfect" Marin town on the end of its namesake peninsula, is a fantastic place for families to visit. Tiburon has long been a favorite of locals and tourists, and boasts amazing views of San Francisco, plenty of boutiques, shops, and restaurants, and lots for everyone to see and do. So pack up the kiddos this summer and head out to Tiburon for a day of fun!

You'll probably want to head straight for downtown Tiburon. We love to walk along the path in Shoreline park and watch the sailboats as they glide by on San Francisco Bay. Along the way, you'll find a fun and interesting museum that's perfect for kids, as well as grassy areas that are ideal for a picnic or just relaxing.

Family Fun at the de Youngsters Art Party this Friday

January 5, 2017

de Youngsters Art Party Photo courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Come help put the "art" in "party" at the fourth annual de Youngsters Art Party, taking place this Friday, January 6, 2017, from 6 to 9 pm at the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. This one-of-a-kind, after-hours festive family outing raises $50,000 annually for the museum's education department, helping to support educational initiatives like free youth programs and summer camp scholarships for children in low-income families.

This year's Art Party theme is inspired by the special exhibition Frank Stella: A Retrospective. Partygoers can explore the exhibition, experience live performances by Velocity Circus, experience an "activation station" created by Adobe, enjoy mocktails in the Tween Glow Lounge, make flipbooks, and much more. We attended the de Youngsters Art Party last year, and had a blast!

Hands-on Museums for Kids and Families in Marin and the Bay Area

January 3, 2017

Exploratorium hands-on fun museum

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.

Children's Museum of Sonoma County

Recently opened in its new home adjacent to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, the Children's Museum of Sonoma County offers hands-on art-, nature-, and science-focused exhibits and experiences for children 10 and younger. "Shop" at the Farmers' Market, play in Mary's Garden, and get creative in Ella's Art Studio. Additional exhibitions are under construction and due to open at the museum this spring. Location: 1835 West Steele Lane, Santa Rosa, 95403. Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 9 am–4 pm; Sunday, noon–4 pm. More info: www.cmosc.org or (707) 546-4069.

Holiday Family Fun at Bay Area Museums

December 13, 2016

Exploratorium hands-on fun museumHave 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

Visit a Museum for Free in November

November 1, 2016

Visit a Bay Area Museum for freeDid you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.

Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; see details with each museum listing below.

Also, groups are generally not admitted on free days; check with each museum for their free day group policy.

First Tuesday of the Month—November 1

Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Offers Family Fun from a Bygone Era

May 9, 2016

Playland-Not-At-The-Beach

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.

Celebrate the Year of the Monkey at the Bay Area Discovery Museum Today!

February 15, 2016

Dragon for chinese new year at bay area discovery museumGung hay fat choy! Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum opens on a Monday (something that happens rarely) today for its annual Chinese New Year Festival. The festivities take place today (February 15, Presidents' Day) from 9 am to 5 pm. At the this celebration of the Year of the Monkey, the whole family can find something to do. Try your hand at traditional Chinese calligraphy, construct a paper lantern, see a vibrant performance by the Chinese Performing Arts of America Youth Group, hear performances of Chinese music, watch martial arts demonstrations, play traditional Chinese games, and dine on delicious Chinese food.

You can also learn about the Chinese zodiac and enjoy an exciting performance by the lion dancers of the Marin Chinese Cultural Group at 10 am and 2 pm. Lion dance performances take place in the museum's Festival Plaza.

All programs are free with museum admission. While you're there, you can also enjoy the museum's current special exhibition, Children's China: Celebrating Culture, Character and Confucius.

Comics, Cartoons, and Family Fun at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa

November 17, 2015

Charles M. Schulz Museum Santa Rosa

Fans of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and all the other characters from the Peanuts comic strip know that Santa Rosa was home to the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. You've probably spent some time skating at Snoopy's Home Ice at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which was founded by Schulz in 1969, but the Charles M. Schulz Museum, located right across the street on Hardies Lane, is a must-visit destination for families, too!

I suspect most parents have more fond memories of Peanuts than their children; we all grew up with the ubiquitous Peanuts comic strips, TV specials, books, toys, and more. For myself, a highlight of just about every holiday was watching the appropriate Peanuts special—whether A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, or even It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown on TV. Of course the recently released Peanuts Movie may change all that, so it's a great time to take the kids to check things out! It's not an especially large place, but there's plenty for both kids and parents to see and do, so plan on spending a few hours there.

Hands-on Science Fun and Education at the Exploratorium in San Francisco

May 26, 2015

Exploratorium hands-on science museum San Francisco

If you grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, you probably spent some time as a kid at the Exploratorium. This innovative and influential hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception has been educating and entertaining families for over 40 years. The Exploratorium is a perfect place for an outing for families with children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. Parents, grandparents, and most other grownups will find it a lot of fun, too. I used to love coming here as a kid, and now my children love to visit, too.

For most of its life, the Exploratorium was located at the iconic Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco's Marina District, but in 2013 it moved into an all-new, much larger facility at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero. The new Exploratorium is bigger and better, and features all your old favorite exhibits along with 150 new ones, as well as a Bay Observatory that allows visitors to explore the environment of adjacent San Francisco Bay.

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