Top 20 San Francisco attractions


The Exploratorium is a fun science museum on the waterfront at the Embarcadero. 

It's popular for all ages, from kids to adults. This huge, modern space has six galleries, with hundreds of hands-on experiments.

10 best things to do at the Exploratorium

Step inside the vortex of a tornado, shrink inside a distorted room, make colored shadows, shout into an echo tube, or walk along a fog bridge.  

Many of the exhibits are designed to learn about the ecology and biology of the Bay Area. There are others focused on light, sound, vision, and mechanics.   

The Exploratorium is an enriching experience, where you can learn as you play.  PLEASE NOTE, the exhibitions are constantly rotated, so the below 10 exhibits might not be displayed when you visit, but there's always cool, new stuff to explore.

1.  Use static electricity to make your hair stand on end!

Exploratorium San Francisco

2. Move in-front of the Colored Shadows Wall, to see your shadows in seven different colors.

Shadow wall at Exploratorium

3. Step inside the eerie Monochromatic Room to see the world in just one color.

Exploratorium for kids

4.  Sit beneath a bubble of color in a comfortable chair, and see how color changes influence your mood.

#1 Guide to Exploratorium

5. Dance in-front of an infrared camera that uses your body heat to project movements on a screen.

BEST things to do Exploratorium

6. See every crater and cliff on the moon up-close, beneath a 16-foot photo-realistic sculpture.

Exploratorium lobby

7. Learn about gravity on an incline.

8. How high can you build a tower on the Unstable Table?

9. Can you maintain your balance, while moving?

10. Visit the awesome gift shop, with a diverse selection of STEM inspired gifts, books and toys.

Exploratorium gift shop

Things to do after visiting the Exploratorium

After visiting the Exploratorium, walk south along the waterfront to Pier 7. The views from Pier 7 are panoramic, encompassing Yerba Buena Island and the majestic Oakland Bay Bridge. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge was built between 1933 and 1936, opening a year before the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a dangerous undertaking, and 24 men died during the construction of the bridge.

The San Francisco Bell is moored adjacent to Pier 7 at Pier 3, and offers cruises for brunch, dinner and cocktails.  Imagine how beautiful the city lights would look on a cruise!

There are some fabulous restaurants along the waterfront at the Embarcadero, like The Waterfront Restaurant (pictured below), and Coqueta Restaurant.

Continue further south along the waterfront path to the Ferry Building. 

See the concrete remains from the highway that used to run along the Embarcadero. The highway was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and finally removed in 1992.  Concrete slabs were salvaged from the demolished highway, and fashioned into a striking waterfall sculpture.

The interior of the Ferry Building has a huge selection of gift shops, cafes and restaurants.

Enjoy waterfront dining at the Ferry Building, and observe the constant stream of ferry arrivals and departures.

There's a great playground across the road from the Ferry Terminal, at the Sue Bierman Park.

Know before you go

  • Address: Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street), San Francisco, CA 94111.
  • Tickets: Book here. 
  • Food:  Restaurant and cafe on-site.
  • Parking lot: 1010 Front Street, San Francisco, CA 94111.

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