Family Vacations in California

Family Vacations in California: Exploratorium

©2007 Exploratorium: Lily Rodriguez Music at high tide? The Wave Organ, an environmental sculpture located near the Exploratorium, is activated by the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

You'll never hear the words "hands off" or "don't touch" at this San Francisco family favorite. On the contrary, this wonderful museum teaches children about the world and the way it works through the hands-on, touch-and-tinker experiences of more than 650 permanent exhibits.

One crowd pleaser is Shadow Box, a darkened room with phosphorescent vinyl wallpaper that freezes your shadow on the wall when a strobe light flashes. In another favorite exhibit, a ten-foot-tall tornado alters its shape when you place your hands in it. Make reservations to experience the Tactile Dome, an interactive excursion through total darkness where your sense of touch becomes your only guide.

Don't miss the museum's wave-activated acoustic sculpture titled The Wave Organ. It's located a short walk from the Exploratorium on a jetty in San Francisco Bay. The intensity and complexity of the music made by the waves is directly related to the tides and weather.

Exploratorium Information

Address: 3601 Lyon St., San Francisco, CA

Telephone: 415/EXP-LORE

Hours of Operation: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Tues. - Sun.

Admission: $13 adults; $8 kids

Get a taste of the lush Hollywood life at William Randolph Hearst's preserved former home. Learn all about Hearst Castle on the next page.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • San Francisco City Guide: Explore San Francisco -- the city is brimming with restaurants, shops, and attractions.
  • California State Guide: From north to south, California encompasses mountains, deserts, beaches, and vineyards. Learn about it all in our guide to California.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.