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Exploratorium – tickets, prices, what to expect, Tactile Dome, After Dark

Edited by: Rekha Rajan
Fact checked by: Jamshed V Rajan

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San Francisco’s Exploratorium is an educational experience with more than 650 hands-on exhibits designed to challenge your mind.

With hundreds of explore-for-yourself exhibits, a visit to this science museum will help you ask questions, question answers, and understand the world around you better.

This world of science, art, and human perception is a perfect outing for all family members. 

This article covers everything you must know before buying tickets for the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

What to expect at the Exploratorium

A glimpse beyond the threshold of wonders

Exploratorium in San Francisco has been making interactive science exhibits for the last 50 years, which are on display in its six spacious indoor and outdoor galleries.

Since it is a science museum, they don’t provide explanations for every exhibit. It is through experimentation and exploration that visitors learn how the world works.

At the Exploratorium, visitors don’t look at the exhibits—they play with them.

Peer inside a tornado, see sound waves in action, use a microscope, a seismograph, and tonnes of other fun interactive equipment.

The Exploratorium San Francisco is about getting hands-on – pressing buttons, turning knobs, flipping cards, pausing, noticing, and realizing.

Tour Ticket Price
Tickets for Exploratorium: General Admission US$40
Tickets for Exploratorium After Dark Thursdays (18+) US$20

Where to book tickets

Tickets for San Francisco’s Exploratorium are available online and at the museum doors.

Online ticket prices tend to be cheaper than tickets at the attraction.

When you buy online, you can avoid the long queues at the ticket counters. 

Because Exploratorium sells limited tickets, they may sell out during peak days.

Booking early helps avoid last-minute disappointments.

How do online tickets work

Visit the ticket booking page for Exploratorium, select the preferred date and number of tickets, and buy the tickets immediately.

Once you purchase tickets, they get delivered to your email address.

There is no need to get printouts of the ticket. 

Show the e-ticket on your smartphone at the entrance and walk in.

Please carry a valid ID with you.

Exploratorium Ticket Prices

For a visit to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, an adult ticket for all ages between 18 and 64 costs US$40.

Youth tickets for ages between four and 17 are set at a discounted price of US$30.

Seniors above 64 also get the same US$10 discount and gain entry at US$30.

Infants under four get a free ticket.

Students with a Student ID can get a discounted ticket onsite.

The Tickets for Exploratorium After Dark Thursdays (18+) are priced at US$20 for all adults above 18.

Minors under 18 are not allowed to buy this ticket.

Exploratorium tickets

This ticket is the most popular way to tour the Exploratorium.

This Exploratorium ticket offers you a skip-the-line entry, which comes in handy to skip the ticket counter queues. 

You will get access to all the Museum exhibitions, including the Tactile Dome experience.

With these tickets, you also qualify for a museum map, which you can pick up at the entrance. 

The Museum is wheelchair friendly.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (18 to 64 years): US$40
Seniors ticket (65+ years): US$30
Youth ticket (4 to 17 years): US$30
Infants ticket (up to 3 years): Free entry


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Exploratorium After-Dark tickets

Exploratorium after dark tickets

The Exploratorium after-dark ticket gets you entry to the science museum after 6 pm on Thursdays. 

This ticket is available only for 18+ visitors. 

At this unique Thursday night experience, you can grab a drink from the bar and enjoy Exploratorium California, one of the most fun museums in the region. 

The Exploratorium after-dark ticket gets you access to all the adult-only programming of the evening, such as guest speakers, music, specialty films, and one-of-a-kind activities.

Ticket Price: US$20

Save time and money! San Francisco CityPASS and GO San Francisco Card are great ways to get massive discounts (up to 45%) and see more of the Bay Area, including Exploratorium, Cal Academy, Legoland, Aquarium of the Bay, de Young Museum, Madame Tussauds, etc. 


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How to reach the Exploratorium

Exploratorium is at Pier 15 along the Embarcadero waterfront.

Address: Pier 15 Embarcadero at Green St, San Francisco, CA 94111, United States. Get Directions

You can use MUNI or BART to get to the Exploratorium, two mini-bus and light-rail mass transportation services in San Francisco.

By Rail

You can board either MUNI’s F Market streetcar or E Embarcadero streetcar, both of which stop in front of the Exploratorium at Embarcadero and Green Street.

These streetcars run from 9 am to 7 pm, so plan accordingly. 

Embarcadero is the closest BART station and is 1 km (.7 mile) away.

By Bus

Muni bus numbers 2, 6, 14, 21, 31, and metro rail lines J, K, L, M, T, and N stop within ten minutes of walking from the science museum. 

Bus lines 1, 10, 12, 41, and 38 can also get you closer to the attraction.

Battery St & Green St bus stop is just a four-minute walk away from the Exploratorium.

Sansome St & Vallejo St bus stop is a six-minute walk away from the museum.

By Car

Cars for rent and Taxis for hire are easily available in San Francisco.

Since parking is not an issue, you can easily choose to drive to Exploratorium.

Put on Google Maps to navigate to the San Francisco Exploratorium.

The museum partners with SP+ to offer a discount at Exploratorium Pier 15 Parking Lot and Pier 19 ½ Parking Lot.

Metered parking is available aplenty along Embarcadero and on side streets.


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Exploratorium timings

From Wednesday to Sunday, the Exploratorium opens at 10 am and closes at 5 pm. 

On Thursdays, it opens again at 6 pm for 18+ visitors and closes at 10 pm. 

On Sundays, the first two hours – 10 am to noon – are reserved for the members. Non-members can visit the museum anytime after noon.

Exploratorium remains closed on Monday and Tuesday.


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How long does the Exploratorium take?

Visitors usually spend three to four hours exploring the 650+ scientific exhibits at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Some families take a break at one of the restaurants and get back for the second round of exploration. 

But most kids get tired after about four at the science museum. 

Exploratorium San Francisco is spread over 3.3 acres, so it is better to wear comfortable walking shoes.

Best time to visit Exploratorium

It is best to visit the Exploratorium as soon as they open at 10 am. 

Since the science museum is popular with families with kids, starting earlier in the day helps you avoid the crowd.

When you start early, you can explore for a few hours, take a lunch break at one of the two restaurants, and get back to the exhibits again. 

If possible, avoid weekends and school holidays.


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Tactile Dome at Exploratorium

Tactile Dome is the largest interactive exhibit at the Exploratorium.

Visitors get to journey through total darkness in this twisting, turning, tactile sculpture. 

Using just their sense of touch as a guide, visitors must walk, crawl, climb, and slide their way through. 

Restrictions

To enter the Exploratorium’s Tactile Dome, visitors must be at least seven years old.

Guests who are afraid of the dark, are claustrophobic, have back, neck, or knee injuries, or are in their third trimester of pregnancy can’t participate. 

Visitors in casts are also not allowed to join the sessions.


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Restaurants in Exploratorium

Exploratorium in California has two dining areas – Seaglass Restaurant and Seismic Joint Cafe.

Seaglass Restaurant is a casual, family-friendly waterside venue offering stunning views.

It offers multicultural, locally sourced menus and a bar with a thoughtfully curated wine and beer list.

Seaglass Restaurant is open from 11 am to 3 pm, and additionally, on Thursday, it is open from 6 pm to 9.30 as well. 

The Seismic Joint Cafe is a casual take-out spot near the museum’s entrance, just off Embarcadero. 

A few sit-down-to-eat spots are available just outside the cafe.

Seismic Joint Cafe is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Wednesday to Friday.


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Map of Exploratorium Museum

With 330,000 sq ft (31,000 m2) of indoor and outdoor exhibit space, the Exploratorium is massive.

A map can help you plan your exploration better. For instance, you may want to spend more time in a particular section.

Map of Exploratorium in San Francisco
Map Courtesy: Exploratorium.edu

The Exploratorium Museum’s map will also help you find visitor facilities such as washrooms, cafes, souvenir shops, first aid rooms, etc.

Sources
# Exploratorium.edu
# Wikipedia.org
# Payir.org
# In.coursera.org

The travel specialists at TheBetterVacation.com use only high-quality sources while researching & writing their articles. We make every attempt to keep our content current, reliable and trustworthy.

Popular attractions in San Francisco

# Alcatraz Island
# San Francisco Zoo
# California Academy of Sciences
# Monterey Bay Aquarium
# San Francisco aquarium
# Exploratorium
# San Francisco MoMA
# De Young Museum
# San Francisco Bus Tours
# Madame Tussauds
# San Francisco Bay Cruise
# San Francisco Ghost Tour
# The Tech Interactive
# San Francisco Dinner Cruise
# SFO Go Car Tour
# Legion of Honor Museum
# Walt Disney Family Museum
# Museum of 3D Illusions
# 7D Ride Experience

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