Standing sentinel after clocking significant time in World War II and assisting with the recovery of Apollo 11 and 12 space-shuttle crews, the USS Hornet now serves as an anchored museum where naval enthusiasts and curious citizens can wander her decks to gain insight into her past military duties on the high seas. The aircraft carrier is comprised of four levels of historical eye-candy, mixing curated exhibits with actual ship quarters such as the captain's bridge and in-port cabins. Visitors roam the ship during self-guided tours, which are often injected with wisdom from available docents or chatty seagulls. Sites include the island and navigation bridge, where the helmsman directed the ship and where the admiral conducted operations with his task force, as well as the hangar deck, with access to the ship's panoramic fantail view of San Francisco.
Most presidents don't have yachts these days. Perhaps they're content with schooners, Air Force Ones, and secret teleporters. But Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a yacht that he treasured to his dying day. The USS Potomac isn't the type of seacraft that ferries playboys sipping mimosas and listening to Hall and Oates. It's a former Coast Guard cutter Electra boasting 416 tons of inertia designed for up to 30 knots of cruising speed; it's intended for authoritarian command. When the Squire of Hyde Park held the reins, the 165-foot vessel played host to political meetings, the very first visit of the British monarchy, and fishing trips, and it even served as a decoy while FDR and Churchill crafted the Atlantic Charter between games of Marco Polo. But when he passed, his sweet ship suffered decades of neglect. Thanks to Elvis Presley, and his mother's fondness of FDR, the ship was rescued and given to Danny Thomas as a fund raiser for St. Jude's Hospital.
From good works to bad...the Potomac wound up busted by the DEA for
running drugs between Mexico and San Francisco Bay, and
it was impounded
at Treasure Island where she sank.
Later the Potomac, in gnarly condition, sat on the Oakland Estuary mud flats for 12 more years.
Rotting and rusted the once "Queen of the Potomac" was finally rescued and restored between 1983 and 1995.
Now docked at Jack London Square where landlubbers savor dockside tours, the floating testament to the New Deal maker also departs on chartered cruises and history tours. The expert docents give the full dossier on the FDR, his buoyant baby, and the history of San Francisco Bay as tour-goers soak in the sights and high seas.
From the spectacular and grandiose?such as far-reaching telescopes that penetrate the cosmos and bring back crystal-clear views of the stars?to the most curious minutiae?think "space toilets" like those used by astronauts on the International Space Station?Chabot Space & Science Center captures the science, mystery, and grandeur of outer space in an interactive and educational setting.
The big picture comes courtesy of the observatory's three high-powered telescopes, which grant Chabot with its domed silhouette and provide visitors a privileged view of the stars during daytime and evening viewings. Things narrow in scope once you enter the museum, where interactive exhibits zero in on the smaller curiosities of space and Earth's relationship to it. The aforementioned space toilet is a part of the Beyond Blastoff exhibit, where spacesuits, space gear, and space food paint a picture of an astronaut's day-to-day life. One Giant Leap: A Moon Odyssey gives visitors another taste of space exploration, this time by putting them behind the controls of the original Mercury space capsule, then puts them face to face with a 3.3-billion-year-old moon rock collected during the Apollo 15 mission. Weather becomes more than something to curse at for canceling the ball game or flooding a meteorologist's basement once visitors enter Bill Nye's Climate Lab. There, kids tasked with saving the Earth from storms and melting ice sheets are too busy developing top-secret energy-saving devices to realize they might be learning something.
Chabot Space & Science Center also features shows such as LaserMania, a classic-rock-fueled spectacle where light and sound?a 360-degree cocoon of cutting-edge laser lights set to music by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and U2, specifically?team up for an explosive sensory experience.
California is too vast and diverse a state to capture through just one medium. That's why Oakland Museum of California combines art, history, and natural science collections—more than 1.8 million objects total—to tell the state’s story.
Organized around themes of land, people, and creativity, the art gallery showcases more than 70,000 works from the 19th century through present day, ranging from paintings and sculptures to new media. Encompassing more than 100,000 artifacts, including several thousand bird eggs, the natural sciences gallery spotlights seven particular landscapes, including Yosemite and Mount Shasta. The history gallery includes more than 2,200 objects that trace major periods in the state's history, tying together the lives of the indigenous people, incursions by Spanish settlers, and the giggling mad dash of the gold rush. In a nod to the history of Tinsel town, the interactive Creative Hollywood station lets visitors create an animation, add sound effects to movies, and forget a personal assistant’s birthday.
Forming the roof of each level, verdant gardens separate the galleries, while more greenery and sculptures beautify the museum's outdoor roof gardens and courtyards. The museum uses more outdoor space to hosts its Friday Nights @ OMCA, a family-friendly market full of live music, dance lessons, and local cuisine. Local and seasonal ingredients, meanwhile, flavor the dishes available in the museum's Blue Oak café. The café doubles as a residency for jazz bassist Ron Crotty, a founder of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, who grooves his way through jazz standards every Friday.
In the 1940’s, the Boeing School of Aeronautics hangar at Oakland International Airport’s North Field housed some of the company’s brightest aeronautical engineers. Their work produced several early Boeing planes, including the Thorp T-3 and T-5, both of which are now on display thanks to the hangar’s current resident, the Oakland Aviation Museum.
Most of the museum’s exhibits focus on celebrating local aviation history, such as The American Legion’s involvement in the Bay Area and the history of native Californian and Medal of Honor awardee General James “Jimmy” Doolittle. However, the museum’s collection of aircraft features a broader mix, including a replica of the Wright Brothers’ EX Vin Fiz, a TAV-8A Herrier that can take off and land vertically, and the Short Solent III flying boat that was used in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
More interactive sites include flight simulators, a kid’s area, a research library, and occasional Open Cockpit Days that let visitors climb into the cockpit of a real Korean fighter jet and turn the radio up really loud. The knowledgeable staff operates the museum with the goal of both educating visitors about aviation’s proud history on the West Coast and throughout the U.S., as well as to inspire visitors by linking aviation’s past to the future of aeronautical invention.
The Museum of Children's Arts was originally founded in 1989 around the idea that creative, curious children build stronger communities. MOCHA continues to serve East Bay schools and neighborhoods today, teaching children as young as 18 months to channel creative energy while developing self-confidence and critical-thinking skills.
MOCHA's mission is most apparent during open-studio times, which allow parents and children to work together and experiment with painting or creating traditional folk art. A teaching artist is on hand to provide guidance, assistance, and lectures on the differences between Rococo and Impressionistic landscapes. Although these hands-on experiences are an integral part of the museum, MOCHA also invites visitors to peruse its community-inspired exhibitions, such as its displays of original pieces created by students of the Oakland Unified School District.