The Exploratorium is a one-of-a-kind museum that allows visitors of all ages to explore the world around them through science, art and human perception. There are more than 650 interactive exhibits that will entertain visitors for hours. The Exploratorium is among the best of science museums in the world, and one of San Francisco’s top-rated sights.
What attractions can you see at the Exploratorium?
Education is a major focus at the Exploratorium. Here, you can learn things you wished you did while going to school. It will make you question how you perceive the world around you.
In this interactive science museum, the exhibits require touching, building, playing and experimenting. The Exploratorium is split into six main galleries, all focused on different areas of exploration.
In the Osher West Gallery you can become the exhibit, play with social interaction, and observe others. Learn how scientists study social interaction and explore how your mind works. Step inside a tornado or see what’s inside the Black Box.
Try to find your way through the labyrinth of the famous Tactile Dome, in total darkness using your sense of touch. Reservations are required for this experience.
In the South Gallery, exhibits use familiar materials in unfamiliar ways. Explore your creativity by making something by yourself or joining others in the Tinkering Studio. Find out what happens when you blow a fuse or build a simple model to explore the influence of the sun and the moon on the tides.
There is also an Exhibit Workshop, where most of the exhibits are developed by Exploratorium staff. In and around the museum shop, you can find plenty of exhibits in various stages of development. You may even get to try out a prototype exhibit.
Seeing and Listening
In the Bechtel Central Gallery you can play with light and sound, and learn how your vision works. Explore a colourless world and have fun in front of the giant spherical mirror, salvaged from a NASA flight simulator.
Make shadows of three different colours that dance along with you and learn some tips for extra quiet walking. Put on the distortion goggles and see what your brain can learn. Explore the science of music and find out why some songs get stuck in your head.
In the East Gallery you can explore living systems. Use scientific tools to explore living things of different sizes the ecosystems they inhabit, and the processes they share.
See phytoplankton, microscopic marine organisms, and see what stem cell looks like under a microscope. Learn about the significance of tides and unusual behaviors of familiar organisms. You can also see a laboratory that cultivates organisms for exhibits.
The Exploratorium features a free public space and also outdoor space that is a part of the paid museum experience. This includes large-scale and small-scale exhibits, art installations and public programs.
Enjoy the music of the harp strummed by the wind or get an upside-down view of the scenery. You can see a wind sculpture and ropes dancing. There is also an art installation that creates an artificial fog every day at 10:00 a.m., noon, and 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. The Fog Bridge stretches across the pedestrian footbridge and puts the participant’s senses at the centre of the experience.
Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery introduces visitors to the processes of observation and methods used to gather information.
The Exploratorium has 6,000 solar panels on the roof that can generate 1.3 megawatts of power, and it uses seawater from the bay to cool and heat the building. There are sensors all around the building itself and in the nearby water. They collect scientific data on weather, wind, tides, and information on dissolved carbon dioxide. You can see all these real-time data at your final stop, the Observatory Gallery.
How much does it cost?
Children ages 3 and under don’t need a ticket. Everybody older than 4 needs a ticket for the Exploratorium.
|Children (4-12 years)||$19.95|
|Youth (13-17 years)||$24.95|
|Teachers or Students (18+ years)||$24.95|
|Seniors (65+ years) or disabled||$24.95|
|Members & EBT card holders||Free|
|After Dark (Thursday evenings ages 18+)||$19.95|
You can buy a ticket when you arrive at the museum. However, buying them in advance will allow you to skip the line at the Ticketing Desk. After buying your ticket online, print it out or simply open it up as a PDF on your mobile device for scanning.
Tickets are valid only for the selected date, and they aren’t transferable. If you are unsure about the day you are coming, consider purchasing an open-ended gift card online or call the museum at +1-415-528-4390.
All visitors can pay-what-you-wish on yearly Community Days.
If you want to visit Tactile Dome as well, you have to pay 15$ (12$ for members) in addition to the cost of admission.
What’s the easiest way to get to the Exploratorium?
The easiest way to get to the Exploratorium is by the historic F-Line streetcar that runs along the Embarcadero. The stop for the museum is at Green Street.
If you are coming in on BART, get off at Embarcadero Station. Walk towards the Ferry Building, and then turn left. It would take you about 10-15 minutes to get to Pier 15.
More detailed instructions are available here.
|Hop on Hop off Bus
The Exploratorium is also part of the San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Plus Bike & Bay Cruise itinerary. There are 24 stops, and the Exploratorium can be seen if you hop-off the bus at Levi’s Plaza stop.
Are there any special events at Exploratorium?
|Thursday Evening is for Adults-Only
Every Thursday evening is After Dark when visitors (ages 18+) can enjoy the exhibits. Lose yourself exploring art, science and human perception. Savour adults-only programming featuring guest speakers, music, films and one-of-a-kind activities.
For more events and programs, check the Exploratorium’s calendar of events.
Is there parking at the Exploratorium?
Yes, there are numerous parking garages and lots near the Exploratorium campus. There is also metered parking, down the Embarcadero. There are also loading zones, south and north of the museum where you can drop people off or pick them up.
Are there discount attraction passes that include Exploratorium?
|San Francisco CityPASS
The Exploratorium is one of the attractions included in the San Francisco CityPASS. Save up to 45% on the Exploratorium and four other San Francisco experiences.
It also includes unlimited use of cable cars and Muni public transport over three consecutive days.
|Go San Francisco Card
Save up to 55% on the Exploratorium and your choice of 25+ other famous San Francisco attractions.
Is there a restaurant or food outlet?
The Seaglass restaurant is located inside the Exploratorium, at the east end of the museum—featuring spectacular views of the Bay. The menu features family-friendly, multicultural cuisine and also showcases small producers. The restaurant offers natural soft drinks, coffees, teas and also features a bar with a variety of alcoholic drinks. SeaGlass Restaurant is open Tuesday-Friday (11am-3pm), and Saturday-Sunday (11am-4pm). On Thursday evening the restaurant is open from 6pm-9:30pm.
The Seismic Joint Cafe is located next to the museum’s main entrance. It offers snacks, including sandwiches, salads, burgers, pastries and coffee. Seismic Joint Cafe is open daily from 9am-5pm.