Did you know that not all days are created equal when it comes to visiting your favorite museums? The month of May brings gold panning, live bands, movies and more to your local museums. Check out our insider’s list for the month of May and know when to go!

Gold Panning 2

May 17 at OMCA: The Golden Ticket
Have you checked out the buzz-worthy Bees exhibit at OMCA yet? May 17 is the day you want to go. On this special Saturday, the Gold Panning Hoedown takes over the museum gardens. Pan for gold (and keep what you find!) and indulge in local lemonade, beer, wine and whisky. Join in a square dancing lesson, make your own bandanna and enjoy live music from Evie Ladin and the Stairwell Sisters. And of course, don’t forget to go inside and check out the exhibitions! $20 ($10 for kids) gets you all this—a steal considering you may walk out with your own gold nugget! Tickets for this event are limited, so click here to scoop them up before they are gone.

Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak St.
Oakland, Ca
510-318-8400
Online: events.redtri.com

de-young

May 29 at the de Young: Family Date Night
Bring your entire family to the museum beginning as early as 5 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., drop the kids for an hour of supervised play while you roam the museum, including the stunning new Botticelli exhibit, and enjoy a glass (or two!) of wine. Then pick up the kiddos and do some art viewing and dancing before the museum shuts its doors at 8:45 p.m. At just $40 per family (2 adults and their kids) this event is a bargain considering single adult all-access tickets to the museum cost $21 on a normal weekday. We won’t even ask what you typically pay your babysitter…

de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.
San Francisco, Ca
415-750-3600
Online: events.redtri.com

Bay Area Discovery Museum BADMVivian Chen via Flickr

May 6 at BADM: Nature Walks and No Admission Fees!
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a treat any day of the week, but we love the first Wednesdays of the month when the museum is free for all and Ranger Lucy—a real national parks ranger—leads nature walks in Lookout Cove. Meet up at 11:30 a.m. to explore the local landscape with an expert!

557 McReynolds Rd.
Sausalito, Ca
415-339-3900
Online: baykidsmuseum.org

saturday-cinema-may9-family

May 9 and May 23 at the Exploratorium: Movies at the Museum
Saturdays may be a little busy at the Exploratorium, but they also offer a great way to chill out and enjoy a different type of museum experience. May 9 and 23 are both Cinema Saturdays, when the museum curates a special family-focused film selection that plays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. in the Kanbar Forum (included with museum admission). You can’t see these flicks anywhere else: they blend observation, poetry, and surrealism; emphasize unique, handcrafted filmmaking processes; and are appropriate for all ages. The films on May 9 will be made up of short animations and historic home movies that touch on the complexities of mothers’ relationships with their children and the universal family experience.

Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green St.)
San Francisco, Ca
415-528-4444
Online: exploratorium.edu

fire truck at cdm san jose

Photo: Amber Guetebier 

May 2 at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose: Family Lunada
Head to the South Bay’s most awesome children’s museum on Sat., May 2 for a full moon celebration. Based on the tradition held in small towns throughout Mexico the Family Lunada is a time for communities to gather and share stories, poetry, and music. Plus you get to visit the museum after-hours: the event is 5:30-8 p.m. Admission is $12 (infants under 1 yr. are free). Don’t miss the musical staircase!

180 Woz Way
San Jose, Ca
408-298-5437
Online: cdm.org

san mateo county history museum Photo: David Sawyer via Flickr Creative Commons

May 1 at the San Mateo County History Museum: Playing in the Past
Not only does this Redwood City based history museum offer free admission on the first Friday of the month, they offer a special program just for preschoolers from 11 a.m-noon. It’s an exciting hour of local history told through crafting, exploring and storytelling. Plus it’s held in the old courthouse, so the a peak at the dome is always a bonus! Starts in the Wells Fargo Learning Center.

2200 Broadway St.
Redwood City, Ca
650-299-0104
Online: historysmc.org

Drop_in_Art_Jewish _Museum

May 3 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum: Puppets, Painting and More
Sundays are always the most family-focused days at this museum, with drop-in art classes from 1-3 p.m. But on the 3rd, award-winning student bookmakers also will be on hand to read their works at 11 a.m. (Books for Kids by Kids), and then at 11:30, reknowed shadow puppeteer Daniel Barash will be in the Zim Zoom Family Room performing the puppet show “Challahs in the Ark,” a beloved story that sheds light on the power of giving and the joys of new friendship. After the show, audience members can use real shadow puppets behind the shadow screen. Need yet another reason to make May 3 your day? If you have a Bank of America credit or debit card, just flash it for free admission during this entire weekend!

736 Mission St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-655-7800
Online: thecjm.org

Will you be visiting the museum on one of these extra-special days? Tell us in the comments below! 

—Erin Feher