The Exploratorium, comprising six main galleries facing the San Francisco Bay, houses a series of interactive exhibits that invite—as the name suggests—exploration. From the Tactile Dome to the Tinkering Studio, the Exploratorium encourages visitors of all ages to engage with the exhibits so as to explore the natural world and every individual’s perception of it.
Buy tickets at the Exploratorium or save time with pre-booked skip-the-line tickets. The museum is also a stop on the hop-on hop-off bus and entry is included with the San Francisco Go Card, Explorer Pass, and CityPass.
Recent reviews from experiences in San Francisco
Things to Know Before You Go
The Exploratorium is a must for families with children, although both young kids and adults who are young at heart will delight in the freedom to play.
Some exhibits, including the popular San Francisco fog and wind and tide exhibits, are outside. Wear layered clothing and shoes that can get wet.
While the Exploratorium is oriented toward science and exploration for children, the Thursday evening events such as the Tactile Dome and After Dark attract an adult crowd.
First-time visitors are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to do; plan an early arrival to experience as much as possible.
The on-site restaurant, Seaglass, is very popular—dine after 1pm to avoid the longest lines.
The Exploratorium is fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers; loaner wheelchairs are available for free at the information desk.
How to Get There
The Exploratorium is served by MUNI’s E and F streetcars. Bus lines 10 and 12 stop a few blocks over, and the Embarcadero BART station is about a 15-minute walk away. If you must drive, there's a paid parking lot at Embarcadero and Green Street, and limited street parking along the Embarcadero before 3pm.
When to Get There
The Exploratorium is open daily from 10am to 5pm; in summer (July through August) it’s typically open from 6pm to 10pm on Thursdays for adults, and from 5pm to 9pm on Fridays for all ages. It’s an incredibly popular place, and on weekdays it’s often bustling with school and camp groups; late afternoons tend to be quieter.
From the Palace of Fine Arts to Pier 15
The brain child of Frank Oppenheimer, the Exploratorium originally opened in 1969 at the Palace of Fine Arts, the former site of California’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Oppenheimer’s passion for teaching with hands-on activities and experiences helped transform science education. Working closely with artists, educators, and developers, this first-of-its-kind science museum invited visitors to use more than their eyes to learn. The Exploratorium moved to its new location on the Embarcadero’s Pier 15 in 2013.
- Things to do in California
- Things to do in Sausalito
- Things to do in Napa & Sonoma
- Things to do in Yosemite National Park
- Things to do in Paso Robles
- Things to do in San Luis Obispo
- Things to do in Pismo Beach
- Things to do in Santa Barbara
- Things to do in Santa Monica
- Things to do in Los Angeles
- Things to do in Long Beach
- Things to do in Anaheim & Buena Park
- Things to do in La Jolla
- Things to do in Nevada
- Things to do in Oregon