Museums for Kids

Amazing Family Sleepovers in the Bay Area and Beyond

July 31, 2017

Monterey Bay Aquarium Overnight
Photo courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

If you're looking for a fun and unique overnight experience for the family, try camping out at a museum, aquarium zoo, or wildlife center! Popular family destinations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California like the California Academy of Sciences, the Marine Mammal Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the San Francisco Zoo, the USS Hornet Museum, and Safari West all offer exciting programs where families can spend the night. It's be kind of like the movie Night at the Museum, except that the dinosaurs and dioramas won't come alive after hours (we hope)!

Needless to say, all of these events require advance reservations and have limited space, so register for your awesome overnight adventure soon! Many of these venues also offer overnight programs for scouts, schools, and other youth groups. All information is correct at time of posting; check each location’s website for complete information, pricing updates, and a schedule of events.

Planes, Air Museums, and Aviation Fun in the San Francisco Bay Area

July 7, 2017

Wings Over Wine Country Air Show

If your kids are obsessed with planes and flying machines, then take a family outing to one of these San Francisco Bay Area air museums, airshows, and other aviation destinations. Some of these places even include the opportunity to climb aboard and sit behind the controls of real historic aircraft, while others offer the chance to watch planes and helicopters in action in the air. There's something for all ages! Please keep in mind that hours and admission details can change, so check museum websites or call before you go.

Live Reptile Birthday Parties at Marin Treks

May 29, 2017

Marin Treks Birthday Parties

Have you been to the Marin Treks Natural History Museum yet? It's a great place to take the kids to learn about nature and the environment and to have some hands-on fun with their collection of live animals. Did you know they also offer awesome birthday parties, too?

Let Marin Treks make your child's next birthday party a day to remember! You can hold your party at their museum in Novato, or outdoors in your backyard or in a local park. Marin Treks' exciting hands-on birthday adventures allow the birthday girl or boy and their guests to hold and learn fun facts about the museum's amazing collection of live reptiles. Discuss where they live, what they eat, how they avoid predators, and a whole lot more. The children are encouraged to ask as many questions as they can and then try to answer their own questions by carefully observing the animals, just like real scientists.

Train Rides and Railroad Adventures for Kids in the Bay Area and Northern California

April 3, 2017

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.

North Bay

Sonoma TrainTown, Sonoma

This scale railroad in the town of Sonoma has been delighting families since 1958. In addition to the train, pulled by scale steam and diesel engines, there's a petting zoo, miniature Western town, kid-size carnival rides, snack bar, and gift shop. Read more about TrainTown. 20264 Broadway, Sonoma CA 95476, www.traintown.com

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!

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.

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