When you think of activities for children, museums — with lots of expensive, easily breakable items — aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. But there are many museums that are super family-oriented with plenty of space for kids to explore and adventure. We’ve compiled a few of our top picks for San Francisco.
55 Music Concourse Dr • Open daily • Kids 3 and under are free
Located inside Golden Gate Park, this science museum is a must-visit destination for all ages. For younger kids, the Early Explorers Cove has tons of hands-on activities in a safe environment. For older kids, there’s an aquarium, planetarium, natural history exhibits, and live animals — all under a living roof. Even adults will have fun here — so much fun that you’ll want to come back for a date night on Thursday night when the museum turns 21+ and serves cocktails from 6–10 pm.
221 Fourth St • Open Wed-Sun • Kids 2 and under are free
It’s easy to overlook this almost hidden gem of a children’s museum, snuggled in the scenic Yerba Buena Gardens but once you know it’s there it will soon become your family’s favorite destination. Once known as “Zeum” it was rebranded in 2011 to highlight the core mission, which is “to nurture creativity and collaboration in all children and families.” Offering hands on activities in a wide spectrum of areas, including music and animation, The Children’s Creativity Museum is the perfect place to take your 2–12 year old. This museum is also home to the beautifully restored LeRoy King Carousel and $4 will get you 2 rides on this beautiful handcrafted machine originally from 1905.
104 Montgomery Street • Open daily except Tues • Kids 5 and under are free
Where to take your Disney obsessed child when a trip Disneyland just isn’t in the books? Look no further than the Walt Disney Family Museum. Scenically located in the Presidio, this museum can help scratch that Mickey itch when nothing else will do. While it focuses on the life of Walt Disney, it also provides an in depth look at the work and art that went into not just the parks but the movies and animation. The museum offers daily movie screenings in their Fantasia themed theater as well as various animation and art classes for both kids and adults.
557 McReynolds Rd in Sausalito • Open daily except Mon
While not actually in San Francisco, take a quick trip to the North Bay to visit this amazing hands on museum located in Sausalito and you’ll soon find out why we included it. The open layout of this awesome museum will have your child running from station to station, lab to lab, trying out everything they can get their hands on (which is A LOT). With so much to see and do your family will never grow tired of the seemingly endless activities that are provided.
Pier 15 • Open daily except Mon • Kids 3 and under are free
The Exploratorium isn’t just one of the best children’s museum in San Francisco but arguably one of the best in the country. This is where art and science combine to create a full sensory experience for every member of your family. The Exploratorium creates an environment that will get your kids asking questions and then help to provide them with answers. The only downside to this amazing place is that because it’s so awesome it’s also very popular and can easily get crowded. However, if one exhibit is full there are plenty more to explore.
745 Treat Ave • Open Tue-Sat • Free admission for all ages
Focusing on the animals, plants, history and science of San Francisco, the Randall Museum offers families a wide array of exhibits, classes, and other programs. Run by the San Francisco Parks and Rec department, the museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays with occasional events on the weekends. While most of their exhibits are currently located at the Mission Art Center, the Randall Museum’s newly renovated center will in 2018 and will offer state of the art kid friendly labs, displays for their animal friends, a ceramics studio, and an onsite café.