November 18, 2013

San Francisco: Exploratorium; things to do

San Francisco


Pier 15, The Embarcadero.  Fee. 

Rickshaw Obscura outside Exploratoriium in San Francisco
Rickshaw Obscura outside Exploratoriium in San Francisco

Now moved from the Palace of Fine Arts into its new $300 million reconstructed pier home over the bay, this famous museum has three times more space to present a combination of play and learning that is as much fun for adults as it is for kids.  It adds up to more than 150 new interactive exhibits among the total of more than 600.  I love that there are free exhibits outside the entrance of the Exploratorium, allowing you to get a taste for what is inside, because entry is an investment.  I was seduced outside by the rickety Rickshaw Obscura, which really reeled as I climbed in.  I have only found two other camera obscuras in California and do have an interest in “collecting” experiences with these old-time pinhole cameras that allow you to sit in the dark and view what is going on outside.  I was reeled in by teenage “Explainer” Rhonda Gaynor (they are found throughout, wearing easy-to-see orange vests and wandering the premises ready to assist).  Inside, the gigantic pier setting is broken into smaller sections and is abuzz with excitement. 

I thought the Sweepers Clock was very clever and fun to watch:

and I stuck around to watch a giant Mexican pendulum clock strike noon, but was hugely disappointed by just a few weak dongs:

when I was expecting this: 

I recommend walking down the museum’s center, then returning via the corridor down the south side.  A dissection demonstration is usually occurring at the bay end—perhaps a cow’s eye or, if you’re lucky, a flower—and don’t miss the upstairs gallery at that end for a dead-on view of Treasure Island and the bay, not to mention another small camera obscura.  I appreciated the rocking chair gallery found at the beginning of my trek back. 

The Tactile Dome is a geodesic dome with 13 chambers through which visitors walk, crawl, slide, climb, and tumble in complete darkness using only their sense of touch to guide them.  Participants must be age 7 or older, and reservations required ((415) 528-4444, select option 5).   The dome was designed and built in 1971 by August Coppola (father of actor Nicolas Cage and brother of film director Francis Ford Coppola).

Seaglass restaurant consists of four cafeteria stations serving up sushi, pizza, tacos, and sandwiches plus wine, beer, and cocktails.

Nearby, you can dine at La Mar and at a plethora of options in the Ferry Building Marketplace.

More things to do in San Francisco.

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image and videos c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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