Museums for Kids

Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Bay Area Discovery Museum Today

January 21, 2013

MLK Day at the BADMCome honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy at a special holiday celebration at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. Create art inspired by the work of African American artists and learn more about Dr. King's life and work in the special family reading area.

Quotes from Dr. King's writing and speeches will be displayed throughout the museum to help your family think about how to celebrate this important holiday.

The Bay Area Discovery Museum is normally closed Mondays, but is open today, January 21, from 9 am to 4 pm for this special Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration. General admission is $11; infants under 6 months and members are admitted free.

You can also honor Dr. King's memory through the music of SoVoSó, an amazing a capella ensemble that performs a unique uplifting mix of jazz, gospel, world, and R&B. Performances by SoVoSó take place at 11 am and 12:30 pm. Tickets to either performance are $7 for Bay Area Discovery Museum members and $17 general. Ticket prices to the SoVoSó performances include museum admission.

Win Tickets to the December 30 Penguins+Pajamas Sleepover at the Cal Academy

December 17, 2012

Penguins + Pajamas at the California Academy of SciencesWe had a blast at the California Academy of Sciences' Penguins + Pajamas sleepover when we attended last summer—it's a fantastic family experience that's both fun and educational. The next Penguins+Pajamas sleepover is scheduled for Sunday, December 30, 2012, and we're giving away a pair of tickets to a lucky Marin Mommies reader! This special 'Tis the Season for Science sleepover will include live reindeer, snow flurries, winter-themed programming, and live music and games from Radio Disney!

Experience your own "night at the museum" as you explore the exhibits after-hours, stargaze at a planetarium show, and enjoy a special live animal presentation. Before bedtime, settle in for story time with cookies and milk to learn about Pierre—the Academy’s famous wetsuit-wearing penguin.

When the lights go out, unroll your sleeping bag in African Hall, next to the swaying kelp of the aquarium's California Coast tank, or even at the Swamp window, face-to-face with Claude, the albino alligator. In the morning, rise and shine, then head over to the Academy Café for a continental breakfast.

Win Tickets to the October 12 Penguins+Pajamas at the California Academy of Sciences

September 23, 2012

Penguins + Pajamas at the California Academy of SciencesWe a blast at the California Academy of Sciences' Penguins + Pajamas sleepover when we attended last summer—it's a fantastic family experience that's both fun and educational. The next Penguins+Pajamas sleepover is scheduled for Friday, October 12, 2012, and we're giving away a pair of tickets to a lucky Marin Mommies reader!

Experience your own "night at the museum" as you explore the exhibits after-hours, stargaze at a planetarium show, and enjoy a special live animal presentation. Before bedtime, settle in for story time with cookies and milk to learn about Pierre—the Academy’s famous wetsuit-wearing penguin.

When the lights go out, unroll your sleeping bag in African Hall, next to the swaying kelp of the aquarium's California Coast tank, or even at the Swamp window, face-to-face with Claude, the albino alligator. In the morning, rise and shine, then head over to the Academy Café for a continental breakfast.

Sink Your Teeth into Dino Discovery in Golden Gate Park this Fall

September 19, 2012

Dino Discovery in Golden Gate ParkThis fall, families can sink their teeth into prehistoric fun in Golden Gate Park, where dinosaurs and ancient plants spring to life at three unique destinations: the California Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden. As part of “Dino Discovery in Golden Gate Park," each attraction will offer a variety of dinosaur-themed programs and events, all of which are within easy walking distance of one another.

At the California Academy of Sciences, visitors can travel through time and learn about the fascinating animals that once roamed the earth during a series of Jurassic in the Park programs from through November 15, 2012. This new series of events focuses on the evolution of dinosaurs, sharks, birds, and living fossils that still call this planet home and features the 3D show, Dinosaurs Alive! All programs are free with Academy admission (unless otherwise noted).

Day Out in Golden Gate Park

July 1, 2012

Golden Gate Park CarouselJust across its namesake bridge from Marin County lies a perfect day-trip destination for familes: San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. This urban oasis boasts over 1,000 acres of forests, meadows, lakes, gardens, museums, playgrounds, and other attractions. There's so much to do here that you'll probably want to visit several times to take it all in.

Established in the 1870s, Golden Gate Park stretches from Ocean Beach in the west to the city's Haight-Ashbury district in the east, and is bordered by the Sunset and Richmond districts on the south and north, respectively. Whether your family wants to play at an historic playground, visit the penguins at the Cal Academy, take in some art at a world-class museum, or have lunch with a view of the Pacific Ocean, there's something for you to do here.

Should Kids See the Jean Paul Gaultier Show at the de Young?

June 30, 2012

Jean Paul Gaultier at the de YoungAlthough my daughter is only six, she's dead set on being a fashion designer. She's serious about it, too—she constantly draws pictures of original clothing designs and even makes outfits for her dolls and stuffed animals. When she heard about the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, she decided we had to take her to see it.

I was a little hesitant at first, since the flamboyant Gaultier has the reputation for being edgy and often risqué, and the museum itself put out notices that the show contained "adult content," but I'd also heard great things about it. Rather than pass on what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we decided to go, with the idea that I'd help guide the children through the exhibition.

The show itself is fantastic. Even if you're not into fashion, or if you don't know anything about Jean Paul Gaultier, it's worth going for the spectacle and artistry of it. It's unlike any museum exhibition I've ever been too before, with a musical soundtrack, videos playing in monitors on the walls, and talking mannequins. Yes, that's right: many of the mannequins (including one that represents the designer himself) talk, as well as sing, smile, and even wink. In fact, my son was convinced one of the mannequins actually winked right at him! Even though this effect is accomplished through video projection, it really does seem like the mannequins are interacting with you. It's a little unusual, but it's also fun and mesmerizing and really contributes to the overall atmosphere of the show.

A Prehistoric Adventure with Plantosaurus Rex at San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers

June 21, 2012

Plantosaurus Rex at the Conservatory of FlowersWalking into Golden Gate Park's magnificent Victorian Conservatory of Flowers is always a bit like stepping back in time. But through October 21, 2012, the Conservatory will transport visitors even further back in time than the 19th century with their newest exhibit, Plantosaurus Rex. Visitors to Plantosaurus Rex will encounter realistic model dinosaurs lurking within the Conservatory and surrounded by the plants that they were familiar with back in prehistoric times.

The first sign that something's not quite business as usual is the sight of a Tyrannosaurus Rex's fearsome looking head popping out of the glass Conservatory roof! (Don't worry—it's not really breaking throught the roof, it's just a clever and fun illusion.)

Inside, you'll see numerous examples of ancient plants from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, including ferns, horsetails, gingkos, coast redwoods, and orchids, along with the dinosaurs that ate them, like a life-sized baby Stegosaurus. You'll also see models of fearsome carnivores that ate the plant-eating dinosaurs, like the T Rex (or the rest of it, anyhow) and an Allosaurus.

Explore Science + You at the Bay Area Discovery Museum (and Win Tickets!)

February 3, 2012

Science + You at the Bay Area Discovery MuseumChildren visiting the Bay Area Discovery Museum can become young scientists at Science + Me, the museum's newest special exhibition. Developed by the Kohl Children's Museum in Chicago in conjunction with scientists at global health care company Abbott, this exhibition opened January 17 and runs through April 15, 2012.

Science + You offers a child-sized laboratory where children can explore how scientists impact health and wellness. Learn how science plays a vital role in keeping you and your body healthy through hands-on interactive exhibits and activities. On Saturday afternoons, meet scientists from Abbott Labs who will perform fun, interactive, and age-appropriate science experiments in the exhibition's demonstration area.

Children will enter the 1,200-square-foot exhibition as if they're entering a real laboratory, washing up and wiping their feet before they put on their white lab coats. Once inside, they'll learn about anitbodies, handle materials in a glove box, separate and and mix liquids and solids, view objects on video microscopes, and learn more about healthy foods and lifestyles.

Experience Playland at the Beach at San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers

January 17, 2012

I haven't been to Golden Gate Park's Conservatory of Flowers since I was a kid, so I was very excited to have the chance to take my kids to see the Playland exhibit that's currently on view there. We had a great time checking out the garden railway setup, the Playland memorabila, and the many exotic plants housed in the Conservatory.

This version of the Conservatory's garden railway celebrates San Francisco's legendary bygone Playland at the Beach amusement park, which was located along the Great Highway across from Ocean Beach and closed (and was subsequently torn down to make way for condos back in the 1970s). The garden railway display is landscaped with hundreds of dwarf plants, and model trains and trolleys travel past miniature versions of old San Francisco landmarks like the Sutro Baths, the Victorian-era Cliff House and of course Playland.

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