Underneath the stately stained-glass dome of the 1910 Old County Courthouse, tourists, locals, and history buffs stuff their brains with knowledge from interactive kiosks and thousands of books and primary sources about San Mateo County. Hands-on school programs and a wealth of exhibits educate visitors on particular aspects of the region's heritage, including the natural resources that enrich the shores and forests, and the waves of pioneers who used local raw materials to support the growth of not only San Mateo County, but San Francisco as well. The museum?s curators and archivists pride themselves on their professionalism, nabbing a coveted accreditation by the American Association of Museums, an honor claimed by only a small percentage of the nation?s museums and none of the nation?s dry cleaners.
Celebrate Art! lets kids explore their creativity and develop art skills. During Preschool Picassos classes, instructors help kids as young as 18 months paint, cut, and paste to create their own works. Kids aged 6 or older develop more nuanced techniques during art-fundamentals classes. Celebrate Art! also hosts parties, play groups, and themed summer day camps.
Helicopter pioneer Stanley Hiller Jr. founded the Hiller Aviation Museum with the future in mind, using history to inspire future generations to explore and create. He had firsthand proof of the innovative abilities of youth—his design for the first successful coaxial helicopter landed at age 19.
In the museum he established in 1998, 53,000 square feet of exhibits let visitors of all ages discover more than 40 aircraft without the dangers of encountering them in the wild. A narrated walking tour leads the way through them, tracing the history of flight from its humble beginnings in village jumping contests to today's supersonic jets. Fixed-wing and rotary aircraft designed by Hiller and others rest throughout the huge, bright space, while weekends beckon would-be pilots into a flight simulator equipped with huge monitors of bay views and realistic yokes, throttles, and pedals.
The team of FAA-certified pilots at San Carlos Flight Center opens up the world of aviation to aspiring pilots and sightseers. During comprehensive flight instruction, the team teaches pupils the skills needed to operate flight controls, land, take off, and keep seagulls from mistaking the plane as their king. Training sessions include everything from private pilot certification to specialty and advanced training. High-tech simulators such as the Xwind help burgeoning aerialists get their bearings before soaring the skies in a Cessna suited for training. To share bird's-eye vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge, coastal cliffs, and the city of San Francisco huddled up against the blue Bay, the crew also offers aerial tours.
Traditionally, the zoo provides the comfort of seeing animals that could not make a surprise visit to your backyard; this is a comfort CuriOdyssey dispatches to give weight to its message of science education. The menagerie of nearly 100 mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds primarily showcases local species like the Channel Island fox and the red-shouldered hawk, which have relatively small niches that have been squeezed by environmental degradation and human encroachment. Native species can be glimpsed within a complex of 25 lush habitats, including a 4,000-square-foot walk-through aviary and a replica of the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Sunny, outdoor gardens fill more than 1.3 acres with plots that rotate with the seasons and plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds for live study. Among the science exhibits, Forces explores fundamental forces in nature such as gravity and magnetism. All the exhibits are designed to enable close observation and experimentation characteristic of the scientific method. This aim is supported by shows, such as daily otter feedings—spied from behind the glass of a cross-sectioned riverbank—and a variety of classes.
Drivers are only as good as their cars, which is why SFC Limo's ace chauffeurs keep a fleet of superior sedans and stretch limos on hand. They rev up the stretch limos during weddings and specialty group trips to Muir Woods, Napa Valley, and throughout downtown San Francisco. Passengers can customize the daylong jaunts by telling their driver to head toward a certain nightspot, park alongside a specific scenic view, or veer into a certain winery to get the ghosts of the California Raisins off their trail. For more business-minded migrations, the drivers hop into their sedans and transport guests to San Jose, Oakland, or San Francisco airports.