"We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams," - Arthur O'Shaughnessy
I remember elementary school field trips to the San Francisco Exploratorium. The building was next to the Palace of Fine Arts, but has moved to Pier 17, which is just as cool of a location. This is a great place to visit at any age. My children eat it up, as they can touch just about anything. Given the rules of the house, my 'Lil Man was so beside himself with glee, that the night before our visit he stated, "I can't wait to go to the place tomorrow, 'cuz I get to touch EVERYTHING!" It was clear that it was going to be a heck of a time. I mean, I can remember running hard and fast all day as a kid there. I came home burned out from a day of learning, trying things out, spinning on the centrifugal chair and trying not to throw up etc. I'd say about 40% of the exhibits were original. I asked a volunteer kid who was manning the suspension doodle pad how old he was. He told me he was 17, which meant the exhibit was there for me to see before this kid was born. Ouch! We be old!
One of the exhibits was rather large for how little was in it. It was a large dark room with a large flat screen right in the middle. A ghosted image was visible with a small sign that instructed you to put your hand on the upper right of the screen. I did and the figure SLOWLY put her hand up to mine. Then she SLOWLY wiped the "mist" from where her eyes were, and put both hands down before staring at me. It was all prerecorded, but creeped me out. I had my 'Lil Man with me and I hear a soft voice say, "Daddy, I'm scared." We both jetted out of there. Seems there's better use of the space, but then, they have a ton of space to expand into, so I guess you can place odd modern art installations wherever you want. The rest of the stuff was hands on and a ton of fun. It messed with their senses, expanded their imaginations, and taught them a little bit about a LOT of stuff.
In the end, it was a great time. There were a lot of people there, but I didn't really mind as there was a lot to do. As we had a baby in tow, we got there with 2 hours to closing and it was JUST enough time. We could have used another hour, but only because we'd been there over the years and knew what was worth our time for our families ages. A newbie might need most of the day to see it all. We ended in the sound room, where there were all types of xylophones to bang on. We missed it years back with our 'Lil Miss was a bit younger, and I'm glad we ended on that. It was just the Cheek Clan, making their own sweet obnoxious music. We all had a great time and each had our personal favorite exhibit. If you're in the area and are looking for some additional places to visit, this might be a great one for your family.
Parking right across the street is $45 for the day, which is atrocious. We went another block away and it was $25 through 8pm. It's about a 20 minute walk to Pier 39, where there's a bunch of restaurants, shops, a carousel, and the famed sea lions resting on the docks.
I love San Francisco. Born and raised, returned and appreciated. I'm glad we got to go, and happy we now have the memories.