Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day Trip - The Bay Area Discovery Museum

Yesterday, we went to the Bay Area Discovery Museum. They have a free admission day on the first Wednesday of every month, which we've known for ages (or for about a year, but whatever), but have never taken advantage of for one silly reason or another. But yesterday we were determined, and I'm so glad we went!

The museum is in Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, in the old Fort Baker, all of which combines to make it a really cool setting. Seriously, just check out this view from the parking lot!
So we went in, and the kiddo could barely keep it together long enough for us to fill out the guest card and make our $3 donation. The whole place is set up so that kids can roam around and discover all sorts of things on their own, which I love. I'm kind of a museum dork, and I love nothing more than a well-curated museum, which my family mocks me for relentlessly. And I LOVED this place. The setup and concept all made sens, and it made it really easy for Emmett to find a set of instruments to play almost instantly

Of course, with so much to check out, the music didn't last too long. Within about 5 minutes, we were on to a section of the museum that actually made me jealous of my kid. When my sister and I were little, we pretended all over the place, and our favorite pretend game was "Wilderness Girls" which we invented while camping in Sequoia with my cousin Carrie and friends. Post camping trip, our favorite place to have epic games of Wilderness Girls was at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, a magical place with a Japanese rock garden, a big lake, and huge forests full of wild animals that might jump out at you at any moment so you'd better go make a fort quick! That last bit might not actually be real...

Anyways, the Discovery Museum had a whole section designed just for absolutely epic games of pretend, called "Lookout Cove." A shipwreck, a fishing boat with a steering wheel, a smaller (but still big!) version of the Golden Gate, little nests, possibly the best climbing tree I've ever seen, several caves, miniature rivers and waterfalls and best of all, this amazing work of art called the Peekaboo Palace. It was amazing - nooks and crannies and windows and corners to peek around - the ultimate treehousefortcastle. (I know, that's not a real word, but this place was unreal, so I'm sticking with it.)
Seriously, look at this thing! The coolest!


A nest, that apparently had baby tuhtoes in it

Serious frog is serious

Stepping stones - those are probably special "hot lava" type woodchips 

A spiderweb! Of course, if Kelle and I had been captured by a villain, this would have been the dungeon

Ross couldn't wait to climb this thing
We spent most of our time in this pretend wonderland, but there were other fun things all over the place. An exhibit created by the Boston Children's Museum that explores all sorts of fascinating things about 5 Native American communities in New England, like traditional jewelry making, storytelling, modern Pow Wow, traditional recreation and more. I didn't have a chance to get pictures in this one because the kiddo was grabbing things left and right, putting them down in the wrongest places, and trying to climb into display cases. So you'll just have to trust me that it was awesome.

Another set of exhibits featured hands on crafting and art for all ages - from complicated whirligig creations to simple paper towel tube scupltures, there was something designed for any kind of kid. Even mine! He drew on his face, licked some glue sticks, got his hand stuck in a tube, tried to stomp through the display of tissue paper sculpture, and then pulled all the books off the shelves. But you know what? It was totally fine! The museum staff was well trained to interact with little ones, and knew what to expect, and I didn't feel awful about my 2 year old being just that, which was so nice.

mmmm, purple

I was glad to see this survived all the toddlers - it was even cooler in person

I just love reading corners with giant pillows

After we undid the mess, Emmett was ready to move on. We hit up the giant tinker toys in a spot called "Imagination Playground" for a bit, and watched big kids build an enormous fort. The kiddo didn't quite know what to do with these things, but Ross sure did, and had a great time showing him how to build fancy things.

I don't have a kid, I have an adorable sheepdog

Next was the "Tot Spot," which was a smaller version of Lookout Cove, based around animal homes. It was sweet and cute, but I think Emmett enjoyed the "big kid" stuff a bit more.

Playing in the "fissies" home

A groundhog tunnel

The cutest dang puppet show stage I ever saw

We finished the afternoon in Bay Hall, which had Emmett's favorite thing in the whole world, Trains. And that was the end of it for us - once he saw the elaborate Brio setup with Thomas and James and the whole Shining Time Station crew, he didn't want to leave.

We will without a doubt be back to this place, and not just for a free Wednesday. It was so fun, for all of us, and I am sure that it will just get better. As Emmett gets older, we'll be able to set him free (ish) to run around the place, while we hang out in the cafe and enjoy the view.

Today, I'm thankful for: interesting conversations with coworkers, burritos (Northern California style, of course), cinnamon raisin bread, salad, and NPR

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