In five simple words — the new Exploratorium is amazing. It moved from the Presidio to Pier 15 in the Embarcadero which is super easy to get to from the East Bay. A short BART ride and a fifteen minute walk (or F street car ride) and you are there!
Because our girls participated in the SF Munchkin Run on Father’s Day, we received passes to the Exploratorium and we were fortunate enough to get in for free! Typically, adults are $25, kids 6-17 are $19, but if you are lucky enough to live in one of the nine Bay Area counties adults are $20 and kids are $15. Kids 5 and under are always free. Glad our two girls still fit into that last free category!
We had so much fun exploring and got so many fabulous photos, that it’s hard to narrow them down here for a post, but I’ll try my best!
The Low Down: The Exploratorium was pretty crowded when we went last Sunday. I don't think I'd return on a weekend, if I could avoid it. We also made the mistake of bringing a stroller. They are working on getting a stroller check, but they don’t have one yet. We were constantly dodging crowds, strollers and all of the amazing interactive exhibits. We ended up just stashing it in random corners for chunks of time. The Tactile Dome is also not yet completed (scheduled to be finished later this summer), but we couldn’t do that with the kids anyway. Despite the setbacks, we had a great family day and we were glad we went.
We were there for five hours which seemed like a very long time, though we could imagine easily spending twice the time. There are exhibits for all ages, and Maisy, Maren, Todd and I were all wonderful explorers. It was some work for Todd and I to follow the wonder of our 2 and 5 year olds, while also trying to learn and explore ourselves.
We tried to make our escape a few times, yet each time we were sucked into another exhibit! That’s the sign of a fabulous museum. Even after we got OUT of the Exploratorium, there were exhibits outside, so it was hard to even leave the outside space.
What we learned about visiting: Next time we go, I’d like to take one of the girls on a special date by themselves so each child can get the most from their experience and we can really focus on their individual needs and wonder.
On the way home, I was glad we stopped by the Ferry Building at Gott’s for dinner and a drink (because I needed a nice wind down after all that). I was definitely not cooking dinner after that long day of thinking, explaining and chasing!
Another option was the Seaglass Restaurant with family friendly food and adult friendly beverages inside the Exploratorium. We didn't sample the food, though we did eye the bar as we walked through.
Free Days: The Exploratorium used to have free days each month, but now they have limited it to: Engineering Day (Sept. 29, 2013), Founder’s Day (Oct. 13, 2013,) Groundhog Day (Feb. 2, 2014), Pi Day (Mar. 14, 2014) and Mother’s Day (May 11, 2014).