Frequently Asked Questions
- Where is the Exploratorium located?
- How do I get tickets?
- How do I become a member?
- How do I get to the Exploratorium?
- Is there a loading zone to drop people off before I park?
- Is there anything to see at the Piers without paying?
- What about accessibility?
- What’s the Tactile Dome?
- What should I wear?
- What can I do with my bag/coat/stuff?
- What about food?
- Is the Exploratorium just a kids’ museum?
- Is there anything here for toddlers?
- Where can I find additional help onsite at the museum?
- Is this the place with the planetarium/aquarium?
- What else can I do nearby?
What hours are you open?
Tuesday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Thursday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; open 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. for ages 18+
Friday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Closed Monday except for certain holidays
How do I get tickets?
Tickets are available at the museum or online.
If you live in one of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties, you qualify for special rates.
How do I become a member?
You can become a member online or call us at (415) 528-4321. Thank you for your support!
How do I get to the Exploratorium?
See Location and Directions for a Google map, directions, and public transportation options. You can also call our Guest Services department at (415) 528-4444 for additional help getting here.
Where can I park?
Visitors can park at the Embarcadero Center or Levi's Plaza Garage for discounted rates on different days at specific times. There are also a number of parking lots and parking garages in the area including a parking lot directly across the street from the museum. (The Exploratorium doesn’t own or operate any of these facilities.) There is also metered parking on the Embarcadero and nearby streets.
Please note, though, that the Exploratorium is easily accessible by public transportation from most of the Bay Area and that we provide bike racks for visitors. For more parking information, see Location, Directions, and Parking.
Do you have any free days?
In addition to free access for field trips for San Francisco Title 1 schools, the Exploratorium is free to everyone five days every year effective fall 2013.
Our Free Access Program includes upcoming free days on
- Groundhog Day (February 2, 2014)
- Pi Day (March 14, 2014)
- Mother’s Day (May 11, 2014)
- Engineering Day (September 28, 2014)
- Founder’s Day (October 12, 2014)
The Exploratorium works with local libraries and community groups to provide additional free access. For more information, contact our Guest Services department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (415) 528-4444.
Is there anything to see at the Piers without paying?
Yes! There’s an unticketed outdoor space with great exhibits, SeaGlass Restaurant with a gorgeous bay view, and our Store and Seismic Joint Café that are accessible from the Embarcadero.
What about accessibility?
The Exploratorium is fully wheelchair accessible. We can also lend wheelchairs to visitors who need them. For more information, visit Accessibility.
What’s the Tactile Dome?
The Tactile Dome is a physical journey through total darkness. You navigate your way through this sensory environment entirely by touch—sometimes walking, sometimes crawling or even sliding. Most people find it to be an amazing experience, but it’s not for everyone. You must be at least 7 years old, and reservations are required.
Please note: The Tactile Dome will be closed for renovation until summer 2013.
What should I wear?
Even if you're not planning to visit the Tactile Dome, you'll want to wear comfortable clothes. We recommend layers, so that you're ready for whatever San Francisco weather comes your way—sun, fog, or a chilly ocean breeze. Comfortable shoes are a must. The Exploratorium campus covers 3.3 acres, so expect to do plenty of walking. Don't worry if your shoes do turn unfriendly, though, we have bandages at our First Aid station.
What can I do with my bag/coat/stuff?
There are coin-operated lockers just past ticketing and the Info Desk.
What about food?
There are two museum dining areas—the Seismic Joint Café, which faces the outdoor plaza, and the SeaGlass Restaurant in the Bay Observatory. Both feature seasonable and sustainable cuisine prepared under the auspices of acclaimed San Francisco chef Loretta Keller and Bon Appétit, an award-winning food service group. Local vendor food carts can be found on the outdoor plaza.
Is the Exploratorium just a kids’ museum?
No, our exhibits can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. Some exhibits and programs are best appreciated by adults while others are very popular with kids and toddlers (see below).
Is there anything here for toddlers?
Many of our exhibits involving color, bubbles, light, and shadow are big hits with toddlers and younger children. Note that strollers are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Is this the place with the planetarium/aquarium?
The Exploratorium does not have a planetarium or an aquarium. You might be confusing us with the California Academy of Science, another great San Francisco museum. We encourage you to visit both.
What else can I do nearby?
The Ferry Building features a wealth of shopping and dining choices as well as a farmers’ market several days a week. (You can also catch a ferry to many points in the Bay Area.) You might also enjoy a stroll down to nearby Port Walk at Piers 1½, 3, and 5, or a tour of TCHO Chocolate next door at Pier 17. Alcatraz tours and Pier 39 are located just a short stroll north, along the Embarcadero. Less than a mile away is historic North Beach, home to fine restaurants, the lovely Washington Square Park, and the famous City Lights bookstore, founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Chinatown, the oldest and largest Chinese community outside of Asia, is also nearby; you'll find the iconic Dragon Gate, excellent dim sum restaurants, and colorful bazaars featuring everything from precious gems to paper umbrellas.