Located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on the Sausalito side, the Bay Area Discovery Museum prides itself on its scientific credentials, with its STEM exhibits (science, technology, engineering, and math) that are “inquiry-driven” and backed by research. But the family-friendly museum in Marin County also offers a lot of fun: Set on 7.5 acres in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the museum features interactive experiences geared toward kids as young as six months and as old as 10 years.
The museum houses seven different zones, including the 2.5-acre outdoor Lookout Cove (with tide pools, hiking trails, caves, and spider-web installations) and the creation-ready Art Studio, where kids can play with 3-D printers and laser cutters. The studio and its programs were developed with a belief that children are capable of the kinds of complex learning that people often reserve for middle school, high school, or even college kids. Of course, the younger ones love the result. The museum also hosts museum educator-led Pop-Up Programs, six daily drop-in activities, such as the hands-on Maker Labs, where kids can cultivate their engineering and building skills. Toddlers age 0–3 have their own series of Pop-Up Programs.
Check the museum’s calendar to see the ever-changing offerings, which reveal creative spins on classic science-museum fun. For example, one winter, the floor of one of the exhibit halls was transformed into an iceless skating rink, using a synthetic ice. Visitors were provided with real ice skates—and different programs were presented exploring friction, the nature of how ice melts, and the scientific properties of snow.
Recurring events include the annual STEM Superhero Festival, which promotes how STEM skills can be used solve everyday challenges. And every Halloween, the museum throws its Goblin Jamboree festival that features an Inventors’ Workshop, Pumpkin Operations, and more.
Insider tip: The museum is closed on Mondays, and the hours of operation on other days varies.