After a two-year and $9 million renovation, the Randall Museum is back in business and Bay Area parents could not be more thrilled. This museum located in Corona Heights Park has offered hands-on discovery for kids of all ages for over 65 years, and—best of all—there’s no admission fee! We checked out the museum’s Grand Re-Opening Celebration last weekend and have the full scoop of what you can expect at Randall 2.0.

photo: Randall Museum

Live Animal Exhibits

Walk in the front doors of the Randall and most kids run right to the live animal room. Here you can see animals that live in the many diverse habitats that we find in our California backyard, from the desert to the ocean to the riparian habitat. Kids can look face-to-face at a raccoon and examine how sea stars use tiny suckers to cling to things in their environment. On Saturdays, special animal ambassadors come out to meet visitors up close.

The Science Lab

Head down to the basement and you’ll find the Science Lab. Ever seen what a raisin looks like under magnification (spoiler alert: it looks a little like a mountain ridge)? Look at some everyday items in a totally new way in the lab where kid-sized microscopes reside on kid-height tables. Swing by for Saturday Science where you can learn about super cool things like polymers or how to make a rocket.

Art Studio

Get your creativity flowing and keep the mess at the museum with a trip to the Art Studio. Saturdays bring Afternoon Art where you can sign up at the front desk for some drop-in arts and crafts projects. It’s $5 per each adult and child pair and $3 for each additional person and is limited to ages 3 and up. There’s a different activity each week and it’s a great way for your kids to get a sampling of the Randall Museum’s art classes and camps.

Little ones can join in the art-making fun on Fridays. Active Art runs from 10 a.m.-noon and combines art, music and nursery rhymes for an entertaining morning. Sign ups are taken at the front desk and are $10 per adult/child pair (ages 14 months to four years).

Model Railroad

Bring your little engineers downstairs to check out the massive Golden Gate Model Railroad exhibit. Trains can be run by visitors with a push of a button, or with the help of members from the Golden Gate Model Railroad Club who are often present to engage with visitors. Swing by on Junior Engineer Day which is a once-a-month opportunity to learn more about the detailed control of this intricate locomotion system. Kids can blow off some steam (so to speak) in the adjacent room that includes a mini caboose to climb on.

The Garage

This newest space brings STEAM to the Randall Museum like you’ve never seen before. Equipment in The Garage includes computers and Arduino devices for programming, robotics supplies, 3-D printers, CDC laser cutter and more. Look for special programming in the The Garage that will overlap what’s going on in the Woodworking Studio.

That’s just the start of what you can find at the new Randall. Look for super rad kinetic sculpture that hangs from the ceiling in the lobby, swing by the toddler treehouse for some tiny tot physical play and build your LEGO city to withstand a massive earthquake in the basement. In addition to the new exhibits and upgrades, the Randall added an on-site cafe for hungry toddlers and caffeine-starved parents. You can even plan your next kiddie soirée in the Art Studio or with a private tour of the animal exhibit. Subscribe to the Randall Museum newsletter to receive information on their super-popular summer camp offerings and classes.

After your day at the museum, grab a spot outside for a picnic and let the kids scurry up the massive rock wall. Before you head home, trek up the stairs to the tippy top of Corona Heights Park for a panoramic view of the city. You won’t be disappointed!

Randall Museum
199 Museum Way
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Have you been to the new Randall Museum? What’s your favorite upgrade? 

—Kate Loweth

Photos by the author except where noted.