Frequently Asked Questions
Planning Your Visit
The Exploratorium is fully wheelchair accessible. We can also lend wheelchairs to visitors who need them. We have tactile maps for blind and visually impaired visitors. You can pick one up at the Information Desk, located just past the ticket scanning station. For more information, visit Accessibility.
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.
There are coin-operated lockers just past the ticket scanning station (small) and outside the Information Desk (large). Small lockers are 10"w x 14"h x 14"d; large lockers are 23.5"w x 29"h x 23"d.
There are two museum dining areas—the Seismic Joint Café, which faces the outdoor plaza, and Seaglass Restaurant in the Bay Observatory. Both feature seasonable and sustainable cuisine prepared under the auspices of acclaimed San Francisco chef Loretta Keller.
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. And every Thursday night After Dark (ages 18+) offers thoughtful and innovative science, arts, and perceptual experiences.
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. Here are some tips and helpful bits of advice on visiting the Exploratorium with kids.
Informal photography and video for personal use, including engagement and wedding shoots, are allowed during regular public hours as long as other visitors' experiences are not disrupted and the photos are for noncommercial use. Photography of strangers is not allowed for any reason without the person’s (or their guardian's) express, written consent.
Any photography, filming, or recording intended for publication in television or film or on radio must be approved by the Marketing Department. In addition, any photo shoots outside of regular public hours or any photography that blocks access to exhibits, requires extra lighting, or results in any other potentially disruptive activity must be arranged through the Museum Rentals Department.
Ask a staff member or any Floor Facilitator (we all wear badges), or visit the Information Desk (just past the ticket scanning stations).
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.
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. Alcatraz tours and Pier 39 aare 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.
Check with individual attractions to confirm hours and availability.
Call our Reservations Office at 415.528.4444 and choose option 5. Someone is available to answer your call from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays.
We’re at Pier 15, which is on the Embarcadero at Green Street in San Francisco.
There are numerous parking garages and lots near our Pier 15 campus. The museum partners with SP+ to offer a discount using the code 4302100 at the Exploratorium Pier 15 Parking Lot. For more parking information, see Getting Here. In addition, 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 we provide bike racks for visitors.
Lots are not owned or operated by the Exploratorium. All parking is subject to availability. Please check hours of operation and rates directly with the lots. As in other urban areas, it is very important to remove all valuables from your vehicle, including the trunk. Don’t tempt a thief by leaving cell phones, sunglasses, luggage, shopping bags, passports or other items in your car. The Exploratorium offers coin-operated lockers just past the ticket scanning station (small) and outside the Information Desk (large). Small lockers are 10"w x 14"h x 14"d; large lockers are 23.5"w x 29"h x 23"d.
There is a white-curbed loading zone on the Embarcadero, just south of the museum, where you can drop people off or pick them up.
How do I get tickets?
Tickets are available at the museum or online. Entry is subject to availability and capacity. Tickets are valid only for the date you select, and they are nontransferable.
How much do tickets cost?
|Seniors (65+), People with Disabilities, Teachers, Students
|Children (3 & under)
|Members (Join us!)
|Museums for All, Discover & Go Library Program, Community Family Pass Program, ASTC Passport Program Members
|California Public School Teachers can apply for free admission
Do you offer any free or discounted passes or coupons on museum admission?
Yes. For EBT, SF Medi-Cal, or SF CalFresh cardholders, we offer $3 admission for up to 4 people. We offer free admission to California public school teachers who have preapplied, as well as discounts for residents of the nine Bay Area counties through the Discover & Go and Check Out SF Family Pass programs administered through public libraries. Visit our Ticketing Desk on site on the day of your visit.
All visitors can pay-what-you-wish on our annual Community Day, when museum entry is on a first-come, first-served basis.
While we currently do not offer coupons for admission, we do participate in two bundled attraction pass programs offering substantial savings—San Francisco CityPASS® and the Go San Francisco Pass. Visit our Ticketing Desk on site on the day of your visit.
Members of AAA NorCal and SoCal may purchase discounted admission tickets. Visit our Ticketing Desk on site on the day of your visit.
For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415.528.4444.
What if I don't know the exact date I'm visiting?
Consider purchasing a gift card by calling 415.528.4390. You can apply the card to museum admission, memberships, and on-site purchases. Learn more.
Do children need tickets?
Children ages 3 and under are admitted free and don't need a ticket. Please be sure to tell our staff at the door how many children ages 3 or under you have in your party. Children ages 4 and older are considered Youth and need a ticket.
Are you part of San Francisco CityPASS®?
Yes, the Exploratorium is part of CityPASS®. Save 44% or more on admission to four Bay Area attractions, plus 3 days of unlimited cable car and Muni bus rides. Learn more and buy CityPASS®.
How do I become a member?
You can become a member online or call us at 415.528.4321.
You can also visit the Exploratorium with general admission tickets and apply your ticket costs toward a membership at any time on the day of your visit.
Thank you for your support!
I'm a member. What do I need to know?
Daytime members, After Dark members, and donors simply need to present their digital membership card and ID for entry. To learn more, go to our Membership section, call 415.528.4321, or email email@example.com.
How do I visit if I'm a member of an ASTC Passport Program participating institution?
The Exploratorium offers free admission for members of ASTC Passport Program reciprocal institutions, and the benefit covers 2 adults and 4 children regardless of your membership level in your home institution.
To obtain your tickets, bring your institution’s membership card and a photo ID or other proof of residence to our on-site Ticketing Desk on the day of your visit. One visiting adult must be named on the membership card used for entry. Home institutions and the member home address must be at least 90 miles away from the Exploratorium.
How do I buy a gift card?
You can buy one or more gift cards by calling 415.528.4390. Learn more.
Is there anything to see at the Piers without paying?
Exploratorium COVID-19 Safety
Masks and vaccinations are recommended, but not required.
Are Exploratorium staff vaccinated?
Yes, Exploratorium staff are required to be vaccinated. Additionally, Exploratorium staff complete a health screening every day before reporting to work.
How crowded will the museum be?
Weekdays generally have lower attendance than weekends, holidays, and school breaks.
Will the air be fresh or recirculated?
All galleries and office spaces use 100% outside air with no recirculation. We’ve done this ever since we moved to Pier 15. We also change our HVAC MERV 14 filters at appropriate intervals to ensure clean air.