Things to do Fisherman's Wharf
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Exploratorium (Photograph: Courtesy Exploratorium/Amy Snyder)
Photograph: Courtesy Exploratorium/Amy Snyder
Entrance to the Exploratorium at Pier 15
Exploratorium (Photograph: Courtesy Exploratorium/Gayle Laird)
Photograph: Courtesy Exploratorium/Gayle Laird
Playaflies by artists Michael Brown and David Williams at After Dark: Glow.
Exploratorium (Photograph: Courtesy Exploratorium/Gayle Laird)
Photograph: Courtesy Exploratorium/Gayle Laird
Exploratorium (Photograph: Courtesy Exploratorium/Thomas Humphrey)
Photograph: Courtesy Exploratorium/Thomas Humphrey
Visitors to Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Bridge encounter each other as shadows in the ghostly billows of fog.

Covering the length of three football fields along the Embarcadero waterfront, the Exploratorium is a science nerds' mecca, with more than 600 interactive exhibits that test the boundaries of physics and human perception. The museum was founded in 1969 by physicist Frank Oppenheimer (brother of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the A-bomb), who was dedicated to the idea of getting people to explore, experiment with and test their notions of scientific principles. Every aspect of the Exploratorium is hands-on—from the storage lockers that play tones when you touch them, to the outdoor “fog bridge” by artist Fujiko Nakaya that shrouds visitors in mist created by more than 800 high-pressure nozzles. New exhibits are introduced regularly, but the most popular mainstays include the Sweeper's Clock, a fascinating movie on a loop in which two street sweepers keep time by pushing around piles of trash; a marble maze you build from hardware store odds and ends; a mind-blowing parabolic mirror; a diorama of San Francisco made from 100,000 toothpicks; and the Tactile Dome, a crawl-through maze navigated in complete darkness using your sense of touch (advance reservations required). The steel-and-glass Bay Observatory on the second floor offers a spectacular perch to observe the geography, history and ecology of the San Francisco Bay. The in-house restaurant, Seaglass, showcases sustainable seafood and sushi, as well as small regional farms—and (note to parents) there's a full bar featuring artisanal cocktails.


Venue name: Exploratorium
Address: Pier 15, The Embarcadero
San Francisco

Cross street: at Green St
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 10am–5pm; Thu 6–10pm (18+ only)
Transport: Streetcar to Embarcadero & Green St/ Bus 2, 4, 8, 18, 24, 27, 38, 44, 54, 56, 58, 72, 74, 76, 82X
Price: $29, seniors and youth 13–17 $24, children 4–12 $19, children under 3 and public school teachers free.
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  • Saturday April 29 2017
  • Thursday May 4 2017

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