You’ve been to the zoo multiple times and while the kids always get a kick out of seeing the elephants and tigers, sometimes the experience is lacking a little hands on thrill, right? If your kiddos are itching for some interactive nature fun then you’ll want to check out the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, which promises an up close and personal experience with some furry friends. And luckily, the museum is the perfect size for pint-sized legs. Expect to see it all in about an hour and a half. Bring a picnic and sprawl out at nearby Larkey Park after visiting the museum. This museum is ideal for cramming in some educational info before having a lazy picnic and hopefully, some little snoozers on the car ride home.

When to go:  Until June 12th, Wednesday – Friday: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, June 15th through Labor Day, Wednesday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

How to get there: From San Francisco, the drive is about 40 minutes. Take the Bay Bridge, then take 580E toward CA-24. Quickly merge on to CA-24 toward Walnut Creek. After 13 miles, keep left to merge onto 680N.  Exit Ygnacio Valley Road Turn left onto Hillsdale Avenue, right onto Parkside Drive, then the first left onto Buena Vista Avenue Turn left onto 1st Avenue and the museum will be on the left. Overflow parking is available in the church lot across the street.

1931 First Avenue
Walnut Creek, Ca 94597
925-935-1978
Online: wildlife-museum.org

What to wear: While the museum is indoors, dress in play clothes and bring sunscreen to enjoy Larkey Park—home to two great play structures, one over bark, the other over sand—afterwards. If you’re looking to spend a summer day, throw in a swimsuit as well and go for a dip at Larkey Swim Center right next door.

Things to do: The museum offers daily activities including a petting circle (which is petting a rabbit, rat or other household pet), feeding demonstrations and a behind-the-scenes look at the animal hospital. But the one you won’t want to miss is the Raptors! presentation at 1:00 pm. Children get up close to a live eagle, hawk or owl and learn about how the museum has helped the animals who can no longer live out in the wild.  The staff is great with kids and the talk is extremely interesting for adults as well.

After the presentation, the interactive displays in the raptor area are even more fascinating. Kids can lie down to take a spin on a flight simulator, see what it’s like to sit in an eagle’s nest, and see what bird’s wingspan their arms match.

You’ll also want to be sure to visit the animal hospital and see what animals have been brought in recently. Kids can check out animal x-rays, look through microscopes and even play an interactive game to learn about what the animals in the hospital eat. The entire area has great displays even early readers can enjoy.

If you have a little artist on your hands, be sure to wander through the quaint art gallery downstairs.

Where to eat: The museum doesn’t sell any food, so be sure to pack your kiddos’ favorite snacks. There are picnic tables and some great grassy areas in Larkey Park so consider bringing along a picnic.

Insider tips: Pick up some delicious sandwiches from Larkey Mini Market & Deli, a mom-and-pop neighborhood favorite on Larkey Lane and 1st Street.

If it’s not picnic weather, enjoy lunch and a treat at San Francisco Creamery Co., which has been spotlighted on the Food Network.

Cost: $7 for adults, $6 for seniors 65+, $5 for children 2 -17, FREE for children under 2 years old

If you’re a member to a Travel Passport Museum elsewhere in the Bay Area, you get a 50% discount on admission.

–Amy Heinz

first photo courtesy of Amy Heinz; second photo courtesy of Lindsay Wildlife Museum