Talking tech in San Francisco: Bay Area technology and science museums

Double helix climbing structure at the Lawrence Hall of Science at Berkeley

As a hub of science and technology, it’s not surprising to have so many related museums in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most are outside of the City, but if you’re a fan, you’ll rent a car and get there.

Lawrence Hall of Science (Centennial Drive, Berkeley): This monument to science sits atop the Berkeley Hills. You’ll drive through University of California at Berkeley’s campus and the football stadium, snaking uphill until you get to the top. Just try and keep the kids from climbing on the giant strand of DNA sculpture outside the museum, or off the slippery stone whale. Let them have their fun, while you ogle the view of San Francisco (and check out the campus below). Then head inside to check out the hands-on biology lab or the fun exhibits on planets, math, forces shaping the Bay, Kapla blocks, and more.

The Tech Museum of Innovation (201 South Market Street, San Jose): This downtown San Jose museum is a family favorite. Whether watching the IMAX movie, riding a simulated bobsled, or creating your own robot movements, the adults will have just as much fun as the kids. The multi-story museum has plenty of up-to-date interactive exhibits that teach science and technology without boring anyone. Plus, their Star Trek exhibit runs through April 11th.

The Computer History Museum (1401 North Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View): This is a museum for die-hard computer fans. It was a little sad to see a version of the Merlin electronic game from youth in a glassed-in case (along with other memories like Atari Pong and a TRS-80 computer), but I guess that’s history. Look for them in the giant room full of displayed computer equipment. For non-computer enthusiasts, watch the film on computer chess games and how IBM’s Deep Blue beat chess-champion Gary Kasparov.

The Exploratorium (3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco): You can’t mention science museum without mentioning the Exploratorium. This warehouse structure at the Palace of Fine Arts makes up for what it lacks in ambiance with intriguing and entertaining exhibits on psychology, biology, sight, sound and more.

As for hotels, try something closer to the freeways so that you can get to the museums without too much hassle. Look into the Hotel Whitcomb, the Harbor Court Hotel, or the Club Quarters.

-Debbie Abrams Kaplan of Frisco Kids and Kaplan Ink