California Academy of Sciences 55 Music Concourse Dr., Golden Gate Park The massive California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park includes an aquarium, planetarium, indoor rainforest habitat, a natural history museum and more under its plant-covered roof. A visit during the day is fun for anyone who’s curious about the world around them, but Thursday nights offer a regular series of special programs for adults. The Nightlife program (every Thursday, 6–9 p.m.) focuses on a different theme each week (fermentation, extraterrestrials, sharks and other fun stuff) along with special events like beer tastings, live music and more. San Francisco Dungeon 145 Jefferson St. Located near PIER 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf, this interactive, live-action attraction, takes you on a trip back through San Francisco’s colorful history from the Gold Rush to Alcatraz. Blending live actors with elaborately detailed sets and a thrilling drop for the finale, the experience is one-of-a-kind. With its spooky undercurrent and appeal to thrill-seekers, the San Francisco Dungeon is definitely better suited to older kids and adults than younger family members. Exploratorium Pier 15, The Embarcadero at Green St. You’ll need at least a day to take in all of the fun, interactive exhibits exploring creativity, science and perception at the Exploratorium. You’ll find thousands of hands-on activities that demonstrate aspects of gravity, electricity, ocean acidification and other thought-provoking subjects. And just because it’s family-friendly doesn’t mean it’s only fun for kids. For a child-free experience, check out the Exploratorium’s Thursday “After Dark” event series, which pairs explainer-style demonstrations with beer and cocktails at the museum. Take a crawl through the pitch-black Tactile Dome while you’re there. Ice Skating Rinks Nothing says “winter” quite like strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the ice to carve a few laps around the rink. Even if you’re not toe-picking your way to Olympic gold, you’ll find some great ice skating around San Francisco this winter. The Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center is the Bay Area’s largest outdoor rink and is usually open from early November until early January. Union Square hosts another holiday rink, opposite Macy's, around the same time from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. daily, if you want to combine shopping with skating. The Yerba Buena Ice Skating Rink is open year-round, just in case you can’t wait until the holiday season. Aquarium of the Bay The Embarcadero at Beach Street You’ve seen (and photographed) the beautiful bay from land while visiting PIER 39, but what’s going on beneath the water’s surface? At Aquarium of the Bay you can take a closer look at the myriad species that call San Francisco’s nearby waters home. The marine center includes 300 feet of clear tunnels running through a tank that’s home to approximately 20,000 creatures, including octopuses, sharks, jellyfish and more. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love the touch tanks and other interactive experiences as well. Plan on an hour or two to visit. Contemporary Jewish Museum 736 Mission St. Housed in a building designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Contemporary Jewish Museum is a stunning addition to the city's skyline. A harmonious fusion of old and new architecture, the museum's glowing blue steel-clad structure was built within a historic red brick power plant from the 19th century. The design is based on the two Hebrew letters spelling “L’Chaim,” which means “To Life.” The Contemporary Jewish Museum features a rotating roster of exhibits that defy a single medium or easy categorization. This winter, you can check out “Kutiman: offgrid offline,” (through July 8, 2018) a multimedia exhibit by a young Israeli musician who samples found audio and video that play as a single composition spread across 12 different monitors, or “Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid,” (through Jan. 28, 2018) which is a visual art exhibit featuring the work of 16 contemporary artists tasked with responses to selected folklore, along with other ongoing exhibits. Don’t miss the Wise Sons Delicatessen at the museum, if you get hungry while exploring. Presidio of San Francisco This TripAdvisor post says it all: “There is a reason why SF is known as a place where people left their hearts. The Presidio is one of the main reasons why.” There are 24 miles of trails in the Presidio from a guided art hike that includes the largest collection of publicly accessible Andy Goldsworthy sculptures to a three-mile loop that is fully accessible no matter if you’re on foot, in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller. Start your visit at the new William Penn Mott, Jr. Presidio Visitor Center which offers engaging exhibits, maps and tips for enjoying a visit to this national park. Easily reached by Muni or the PresidiGo Shuttle system, the Presidio also is home to The Walt Disney Family Museum, whose installation Home for the Holidays at Carolwood, has become a holiday tradition.
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