If the weather has you searching for some indoor inspiration this time of year, head to one of our local museums (and even a few hotels that are hosting exhibits)! Dive into the world of coral reefs, learn what it was like on Alcatraz and fly like the raptors and drones. Where will the inspiration take you?

photo: Bay Area Discovery Museum

Bay Area Discovery Museum

Explore the science of how things move by land, sea and air at the new Bay Area Discovery Museum exhibit, From Here to There. The exhibit is comprised of 12 different hands-on activities that provide children an opportunity to engage with both familiar modes of transportation—such as trucks and airplanes—and with a new world of travel that includes magnetic levitation and hovercrafts as possibilities. Learn about gravity, friction and motion, all through play.

When: now through May 13
Where: Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, CA


photo: Curiodyssey


Only Curiodyssey can combine drones and raptors for two weekends of family fun. Come check out the new exhibit SWOOP! Drone Racing and Raptors in Flight and be prepared to be amazed by what can happen in the air. Watch indoor drone racing and talk with experienced drone pilots about building your own drone. Meet CuriOdyssey’s raptors up close and learn the science of their flight as you watch them perform daring feats in the air.

When: Feb. 9-11 and 17-19
Where: Curiodyssey, 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo, CA

photo: Walt Disney Animation Research Library, ©Disney

The Walt Disney Family Museum

Visit this museum in The Presidio and get a behind-the-scenes look at what went into Disney animation with the new exhibit, Make Believe: The World of Gene Keane. This Disney animator and artist brought to life some of the most unforgettable characters of all time including Tarzan, Ariel, Pocahontas and Rapunzel.

When: March 8-September 3
Where: The Walt Disney Family Museum, 104 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA

California Academy of Sciences

A new exhibit and a planetarium show are coming to the Cal Academy and you definitely need to check them out. Learn about how fast our planet is changing with PlanetVision, a new online resource and exhibit. Teach the kids how to be good environmental stewards to protect Earth for generations to come. Starting March 16, check out the new all-digital planetarium show Expedition Reef and journey into the world of coral reefs. This biodiverse—and critically threatened—ecosystem support a quarter of the marine life on our planet. 

When: PlanetVision is on exhibit now and Expedition Reef arrives March 16
Where: California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA

photo: Jim Campbell, Tilted Plane, courtesy the artist and Hosfelt Gallery


There's always something eye-opening at SFMOMA. Start with Jim Campbell: Tilted Plane, on view March 3–September 16. This immersive light installation features hundreds of suspended incandescent bulbs that have had their filaments replaced by LEDs. Visitors can step inside the work to experience the flickering patterns and angled image plane from different perspectives. Want to go now? Check out Designed in California. Explore how the digital revolution has changed California design over the past few decades.

Mark your calendars for March 18, which is free Family Day and will include a performance by the BodyCartography Project.

WhenDesigned in California, now through May 27. Jim Campbell: Tilted Plane, on view March 3–September 16
Where: SFMOMA, 151 Third Street, San Francisco, CA

photo: Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Sparking curiosity and creativity is what the big, blue blocks of the Imagination Playground do best. Head to the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose to let the kids build big at the exhibit through May 31. Will it be a rocket ship, a water slide or an animal habitat? The only limit is your imagination.

While you are there, head out back and see what's new in Bill's Backyard, including their new Outdoor Classroom programming!

When: now through May 31
Where: Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, 180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA

photo: Victoria Hamlin, At the DMV (Coliseum), oil and graphite on Arches oil paper, 2017

Berkeley Art Center

How does an artist's environment play on his/her artistic development? Curator and artist Maria Porges set out to answer this question with the exhibit, THIS PLACE. Through painting, printmaking, drawing, etching, digital prints and painted film, the artworks create a record of familiar places—and some that no longer exist.

Make some Valentines with recycled materials on Saturday, Feb. 10, 1-3 p.m. at the Family Workshop.

When: Feb. 3-March 4
Where: Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley, CA

Alcatraz Exhibits at Parc 55 and Hilton San Francisco Union Square

While these are hotels and not museums, they are offering some pretty cool Alcatraz exhibits to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the island's closure as a federal prison. Available from now through June 28, Parc 55 will give you a glimpse of what life was like on Alcatraz with an exhibit in their lobby. Check out the real jail cells and see photos and memorabilia from the island prison. The hotel will also host a speaker series beginning with former inmate Bill Baker. 

Starting February 21, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square will also hold a couple of choice exhibit items in the hotel’s lobby, including the replica jail cell and the escape route display. These items will be on display through June 28.

When: Parc 55 now through June 28. Hilton San Francisco Union Square Feb. 21-June 28. 

What new exhibit are you looking forward to? Share it below!

—Kate Loweth




17 Best Spots for STEM Learning Around the Bay

Nature NOW: Bill’s Backyard Opens at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

20 Zoo Alternatives for Little Animal Lovers