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Children's Museums and Kid-Friendly Museums in the Bay Area

Updated on October 7, 2010

Kid-friendly Art Museums

Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA)

538 Ninth Street, between Washington & Clay, Oakland, California 510.465.8770 Hours: tuesday - friday 10am to 5pm. saturday - sunday noon to 5pm

This museum is unique in that it only displays artwork by children. Gallery admission is free and reasonable fees are charged for open studio participation.

The San Jose Museum of Art

110 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 408-271-6840

Hours:Tuesday - Sunday 11am - 5pm, Closed Monday, and all Monday holidays.

Admission:Adults: $8.00, Students & Seniors: $5.00, Children under 6: FREE

This museum has many kid-friendly exhibits. Kids ArtSunday is from 11 am - 3 pm on the second Sunday of each month.

The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo

Free admittance! There is a donation box, so a $2-3 donation is always appreciated.

Open Tues -Sat 10-5 , Sun 1-4, Closed Mondays

1451 Middlefield, Rd. Palo Alto (650) 329-2111

This museum was just overhauled and is a great place to take the kids for 2-3 hours. The indoor area has several motor skill activities including sending golf balls down a looped ramp, sending metal disks spiraling down a well, a giant 'lite bright' station, a little crawl cave and more. The outside is a mini-zoo with snakes, birds, rabbits, leopard sharks and flounders, bobcats, lizards, bats, rats, racoons and more. You can easily spend 2 hours here. Convenient on-site bathrooms with changing station. Website is:

The Tech Museum of Innovation of San Jose

201 South Market Street San Jose, CA, (408) 294-TECH

Exhibits Open Tuesday - Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., IMAX show times are updated daily.

Admission: Museum + 1 Imax, $8.

Hint: 2nd Sunday of every month is free admission!

3 fun-filled floors. From designing your own roller coaster - then riding it- to creating boats with soap and popsicle sticks, this museum has a lot to offer. There are shows throughout the day. IMAX films are not to be missed, so check what's playing. Experience the jolt of a 7.0 earthquake. There is a great kid-specific area, as well as the (sometimes offered) rides on the Segue.

A nice alternative to the Children's Museum of San Jose (not as many tiny tots here).

Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito

557 Mcreynolds Rd, Sausalito (415) 339-3900

Admission: $8.50 Adults, $7.50 kids; under 1 year, free. Cash only. For families, free admission on second Saturdays between 1 and 5 pm.

Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Closed Mondays

There are many exhibits and activities here, that are focused on natural science, art and multimedia. Kids learn how to outsmart a maze, create art, and uncover the mechanics of how the San Francisco Bay operates. Also, there is an enormous train set. If you have a kid who loves trains, try to see the other exhibits first - it will be hard to pull him/her away from those trains! You even get a great view of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Plenty of parking.

Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose

180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA

Admission: Adults and children: $8, kids under 1 year are free.

Hours: Monday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday noon to 5:00 p.m.

This is a great museum with an abundance of activities for kids (through teens). As soon as you walk in, you can't avoid the big red firetruck, the traffic light, the ambulance and of course, around the corner, the train which kids can operate. There is an arts and crafts area upstairs, as well as a pretend pizza parlor.

This museum changes themes often to keep it interesting.

Don't miss the Wonder Cabinet where kids can crawl through a starry night, listen to different types of sounds, build towers from foam blocks and send balls up and down tubes. And for babies, there is a nice crawl room.

If your kids like water, be sure to bring a change of clothes- there is a fantastic water play area (Water Ways) and they are bound to get soaked. Also, an extra shirt is a good idea if they go downstair to the bubble area.

Hiller Aviation Museum

601 Skyway Road, San Carlos, CA (650) 654-0200

Hours: 10am-5pm, 7 days a week

Admission: Adult$9.00, Youths (5-17) $6.00, Children (4 and under) Free! (with Paid Adult) And if you go to their site, you can print out a $1 off coupon.

This museum is perfect for youngsters. Not too big, not too small. Kids can see what it's like to pilot a helicopter and a Jumbo Jet. They can even sit in the cockpit of a Blue Angel. Lots of vintage and experimental aircraft to explore - fun for the whole family.

Zeum at Yerba Buena

Call for hours, as they change by season. 415.820.3320

Zeum is open during many school holidays.

Admission: Youth Ages 3-18 $6, Adults $8, 2 and younger, free

Zeum offers highly interactive, multi-generational, and ADA accessible exhibits that focus on five core arts and media subjects: Animation, Video Production, Sound Production, Performance, and Visual Arts. There are two floors and six spaces to explore!

Don't miss the historic carousel that was formerly a beloved fixture at the San Francisco amusement park, Playland-at-the-Beach. The carousel, built in 1906 by Charles Looff, features a whole menagerie of elaborately hand-carved animals, including horses, giraffes, camels and more. Restored to its current location in 1998, the Zeum Carousel now offers rides for all ages.


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