Bay Area Discovery Museum

If you have kids under the age of seven or eight, it’s probably best to avoid cultural facilities such as SFMOMA, the Museum of the African Diaspora and other important but decidedly adult-centric institutions. However, there is a great place designed specifically for this hard-to-please demographic that parents also love, the Bay Area Discovery Museum located just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. This museum is designed specifically for young children and has a nearly endless variety of things for them to see and do. The museum is actually several buildings spread across a 7.5-acre campus with plenty of activity areas both inside and outside that are designed to teach, delight and engage kids, as well as their parents and guardians. Samples of the different areas and the activities found in each include the following:

  • Art Studios
    Kids can go to two different art studios to get hands-on experience making art where the process is more important than the product. They can explore themes, textures, materials and many other aspects of the creative process and have a blast while doing so.
  • Bay Hall
    This part of the museum is a kid’s version of the Ports of San Francisco and Oakland. It is complete with Fisherman’s Wharf where the day’s catch comes in and the Port of Oakland where they can load and unload cargo on their ship. Kids can also watch a vintage train set run on a very elaborate course and observe sea life from an underwater tunnel in Under the Pier.
  • Discovery Hall
    Discovery Hall features rotating exhibits featuring information on a wide range of topics that are presented specifically to captivate and inform young minds. For more information about the exhibits planned for your trip, check out
  • Lookout Cove
    This 2.5-acre outdoor area features a working fishing vessel, a shipwreck, a 23-foot model of the Golden Gate Bridge (including a truly stunning view of the real thing), Peekaboo Palace and many other fun things to see and do.
  • Tot Spot
    Kids under three years of age will love the water-themed activities and exhibits, but parents won’t unless they plan ahead and bring a change of clothes or constantly monitor their kids. They will want to get wet and will probably have a wonderful time while doing so.
  • Wave Workshop
    If you have a young scientist or civil engineer in your family, then this is the place to go. This habitat is built to resemble the real one nearby at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, complete with a shore habitat with birds, a place to build boats and test the effects of wind and waves on them and a saltwater aquarium to study aquatic animals and habitats.

Rather than drag kids through someplace that they will tire of quickly, why not take them through someplace where they are likely to tire themselves out completely and have a great time while doing it? Admission is quite affordable at $11, and very young children six months and under get in free. During the summer months, the Museum is open Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After September 2, the Museum is closed on Monday, but the hours of operation are the same. The Museum is closed on Easter, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and for two weeks each September for maintenance. Check the website at for the maintenance schedule.

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