Your Guide to a Perfect Summer Day on San Francisco's Embarcadero
Whether you're a Bay Area native or visiting The City for the first time, San Francisco's historic Embarcadero is the perfect destination for a summer adventure. If you're planning a visit to the Exploratorium, turn your journey into a full day of fun with this perfect timeline of adventures.
8:00 a.m.: Breakfast at the Ferry Building Marketplace
Start your day at the beautiful Ferry Building. This 100-year-old terminal-turned-public-food-market is every foodie’s dream, with local favorites Blue Bottle Coffee, Miette Patisserie, and Fort Point Beer Company topping the list.
Pro tip: On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays experience the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, where sustainable growers, producers, and chefs show off their goods to urban dwellers.
9:00 a.m.: Enjoy the journey along the waterfront
Continue down the Embarcadero on foot, or hop on the historic F-line streetcar at the Ferry Building and take it three stops, to the Exploratorium at Pier 15. Whether you stroll, bike, bus, or drive, the Embarcadero's location on the San Francisco waterfront makes the journey just as scenic as your destinations along the piers. The Embarcadero BART and Muni stations are within walking distance, and bike lanes stretch down the waterfront. If you're driving, there's ample parking in metered and public lots.
Pro tip: As you approach the Exploratorium at historic Pier 15, keep your eyes peeled for interesting outdoor exhibits, such as Sun Swarm by Chris Bell. An elevated topography of silvered squares inserted between the water and the sky, Sun Swarm is an architectural intervention that collects and disperses bits of sunlight across the deck of nextdoor Pier 17.
10:00 a.m.: Spark your curiosity at the Exploratorium
Welcome to Pier 15! The Exploratorium is more than a museum—it’s a gateway to exploring science, art, and human perception. Let your curiosity roam free through hundreds of exhibits in six spacious indoor and outdoor galleries. You’ll find thoughtful safety protocols, our one-of-a-kind store, excellent dining, and more at our beautiful bayside location.
Plan ahead: Receive free admission all year long with an Exploratorium membership. Join our community of the inquisitive and adventurous, and know you’re helping the Exploratorium recover. Benefits include unlimited free admission year-round to Pier 15 (Daytime and/or After Dark); Daytime members-only VIP hours, every Sunday 10:00 a.m.–noon; free admission for Daytime members to 350+ partner science centers and museums worldwide; 10% off every day at the Exploratorium Store; and more!
Noon: Lunch with Bay views
Recharge and refuel for the afternoon. Check out the Exploratorium's Seaglass Restaurant for a fabulous, family-friendly meal with sweeping views of the Bay, or head out toward Fisherman's Wharf or Pier 39 to try some of San Francisco’s famous clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. (Want to go and come back? Same-day re-entry to the Exploratorium is allowed, just remember to stamp your hand upon exiting!)
2:00 p.m.: Get up close with the Bay
Once you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Exploratorium, continue farther northwest on the Embarcadero to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. Here you can explore San Francisco's eclectic portside history and culture, plus find plenty of seafood markets featuring their own spins on classic clam chowder. Wander around the piers and meet some of San Francisco’s most adorable attractions—the sea lions that live on Pier 39’s K Dock!
Pro tip: Stroll back to the Exploratorium’s outdoor area to experience the iconic fog bridge at 4:00 p.m. (or catch it at 2:00 p.m. before you go)—a 150-foot-long pedestrian bridge between Piers 15 and 17 that shrouds passersby in mist. Daily at 10:00 a.m., noon, 2:00 and 4:00 p.m., and additionally on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m.: Capture your memories!
Don’t miss out on the beautiful light cast along the Bay during the late afternoon, and the chance to grab a couple of snaps for your memory album.
Pro tip: If you're looking for a great spot for a group photo, the Exploratorium's Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery & Terrace offers an uninterrupted view of both the San Francisco cityscape and the Bay Bridge.