A group of teachers and parents founded Habitot Children's Museum in 1998 with one specific mission in mind: to foster children up to 6 years old by encouraging their creativity and natural curiosity. Today, the 4,000-square-foot museum backs up this mission with research—gleaned from studies by scientists, psychologists, and educators—positing that healthy play spurs social skills, creative thinking, and problem solving, laying the foundation for kids to succeed later in life and imprison boogeymen in their booby-trapped closet tomorrow.
At Habitot, kids find such opportunities at small-scale exhibits and themed play areas throughout the museum. Maker Saturdays are held every Saturday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. where builders aged 4-7 can invent, design, and create things like monster-bots, recycled art sculptures, cardboard cities, pump rockets, and Rube Goldberg mousetraps; while Story Time offers free stories every day of the week. Young explorers press buttons, turn dials, and issue commands for pretend space launches inside a 13-foot model rocket ship or navigate a vertical floor-to-ceiling maze designed to mimic worm tunnels. At the waterworks table and pumping station, young engineers manipulate water using buckets, funnels, waterwheels, and pitchers to help them understand H2O’s unique properties, such as how it keeps boats afloat on the arms of a thousand mermen. (At different times throughout the year, the staff transforms this area with a different theme; at times it’s been a car wash, a marine-science lab, or the racing grounds for a rubber-ducky regatta.) Visitors can tap into their inner Van Goghs at the art studio, where they play with soft clays and go nuts on a paintable wall. Habitot also hosts year-round children's camps with themes such as beaches, transportation, space, castles, and science.
Established in 1968 in honor of Ernest Orlando Lawrence, UC Berkeley's first Nobel laureate, The Lawrence Hall of Science aims to inspire the scientists and innovators of the future. Their hands-on exhibits allow children and adults to see and touch a fascinating variety of displays and projects. The animated, interactive Science On a Sphere globe, for example, uses actual scientific data to depict the expanding wave patterns of tsunamis and the surface of Mars. To learn more about seismic activity, guests head to the Forces That Shape the Bay outdoor park to explore erosion and the geology of the Bay Area. Kids can climb atop a life-size model whale or through the double helix of a huge DNA sculpture, or work with UC Berkeley students and staff to design and build a prototype in the Ingenuity Lab.
The museum also sparks imaginations with an interactive planetarium and the National Geographic 3D Theater. Its affiliation with the university makes it an ideal spot for educational camps and classes, as well as community events, including a robotics competition.
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In Focus: Artbeat Salon and Gallery
The salon: an Aveda concept studio where hairstyling, waxing, and makeup artistry meet facials and body scrubs
The gallery: an inspiring—and shopper-friendly—space populated by the work of local artists
Staff: six senior stylists, five stylists, and two aestheticians
The décor: as eclectically stylish as its staff and artists, with exposed brick walls, modern furniture, and black chandeliers
The spectacular theater at Berkeley's
Firehouse North will leave you begging for more.
While you're enjoying this museum, be sure to check out their amazing restaurant for a tasty meal.
At this museum, kids of all ages are welcome.
Take your pet pooch along when you visit Firehouse North — dogs are more than welcome to join their humans at the museum.
Brush up on your parallel parking skills — the museum's Shattuck Avenue location offers nearby street parking.
From well-known pieces to local pieces, Firehouse Art Collective in Berkeley houses a wide array of fine pieces.
For a well-crafted dish, be sure to visit the restaurant at this museum.
This museum welcomes kids, too, so you can feel good about bringing the whole family.
Volume at this museum can reach upper decibels, so come prepared to raise your voice to be heard.
Parking is plentiful, so patrons can feel free to bring their vehicles.