While exploring Sausalito, we started wondering if there was something for the little guy to do and enjoy. A quick Google search showed that the Bay Area Discovery Museum was a short drive down the road. So after lunch we decided to go and check it out.
Nestled in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, at the foot of Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area Discovery Museum is a pretty unassuming facility. It’s also hard to focus on it since there is an amazing view of Golden Gate Bridge that grabs your attention. It was a sunny day with a bit of haze so we were able to properly appreciate the view.
Once we regained our focus, we head to the Museum where we weren’t quite sure what to expect. I tend to stay away from places with the word museum in the title given I have a toddler tornado. But this wasn’t your standard issue museum. We were greeted by fun activities teaching kids of all ages about life and activities around the Bay. It was definitely better than we expected.
So with that said, here’s what we felt were the most important things to know.
The Museum Setup
The Museum is essentially a few annex type buildings on an old parking lot/tarmac. This means that it can get very hot – both on the tarmac and in the buildings. Scattered along the tarmac, you will find many fun and interesting activities. These include musical chimes, a foam-cylinder maze, a sand pit, and bubble machines, to mention a few. There are activities hosted inside the buildings too including a train and boat room where kids can play with trains and a small container crane. A large fishing trawler takes up half the room where kids can pretend to catch plastic fish and crabs, which they can then pretend to wash and sell. Other rooms along the strip include wooden blocks to build bridges, as well as larger pieces of wood and plastic which can be used to construct larger items – similar to Meccano-brand of toys but much larger.
On the far side of the Museum is a wonderful park. The park has a toy structure designed to look like a fishing trawler, a cave, and a bunch of climbing structures for kids to play on. There is also a small hiking path which affords views of the Museum as well as the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s actually less a hiking path and more a walking trail that is perfect for little kids.
As you continue along, there is a large area with large foam blocks for kids to play with. There is also a Measurements room where kids (and adults) can learn about measurements. It had a large tape measure, a scale that compared your weight to a number of chickens, a table where you use sand to measure fluid ounces vs cups. It was very unique and the busiest room of them all. Across this strip were the art rooms. Kids could watercolour and build small sleighs out of Popsicle sticks.
After passing a few party rooms (they host kid’s parties), we came across a toddler-only section. A staff member was there to make sure only the age appropriate kids go through. It was so great to not have to fight off older kids. Our little guy got to play in a water fountain/stream, as well as play in a room that had waterbeds set up as lily pads. There were also smaller play structures to climb. The learning component focused sounds and textures that kids could identify learn about.
So given the setup up of the Museum, and as mentioned before, weather could definitely be an issue.
The Museum is situated on what could’ve been a parking lot back in the day. So prepare for it to get very hot. The buildings aren’t air conditioned so there’s little reprieve from the heat. I would definitely base my visit on the weather. We went at the end of December and we got a bit uncomfortable with the heat.
I’m also not sure what the Museum would be like in the rain. Outdoor activities would be limited but the inside portions should still be fun. With that said, the weather would definitely play a part in our decision for when we go back to visit.
The Food Options
There is only one small café available on the premises. There aren’t any surrounding places to eat either. Nearby Sausalito can be about a 15-20 minute drive. You do have in-and-out privileges but this may not be the best option (see next section).
We arrived after lunch so we didn’t take advantage of anything the café had to offer. I’m not sure what the prices were like but I imagine they were standard for a place like that. There were additional tables setup near the playground so you could pack a picnic lunch to share while you there.
Otherwise I would eat either before or after visiting the Museum.
All I can say is, be as PATIENT as possible. This is at the foot of Golden Gate Bridge which means, when you’re heading back across the bridge, it is going to be a long wait to get on. We were unfortunate enough to have to deal with road closures too so it took a while to leave.
The other fun traffic nuance is all of the cyclists. The route we took to get back on the Bridge was a merge lane (into another merge lane through a tunnel) to get on. This merge lane was also a bike lane. This added an extra challenge as the cyclists didn’t allow cars to merge and people were too worried about hitting a cyclist. It may have been better to double back to Sausalito and get back on the 101 that way.
We definitely had a hard time convincing our little guy that it was time to go home. He had a really great time and has asked several times since to go back. We will definitely consider visiting the Museum again. The entry fee was justified with how much there was for him to do.
If anyone can recommend similar museums, I’d love to hear about. Particularly museums within the Los Angeles region. We are starting to think ahead to our next adventure and would love to start adding things to our must do list. I appreciate any recommendations! Please let me know in the comments below or email me directly with information.
As always, if you have any questions or comments to add to this post regarding the Bay Area Discovery Museum, leave them below! I’d love to hear about it.