Chabot Space and Science Center: 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland
Founded as an observatory in 1883, today Chabot offers visitors the very latest in hands-on, interactive exhibits, displays, and Planetarium shows that explore the mysteries of the universe and of life here on earth.This is a hands-on center featuring interactive exhibits, a digital planetarium, a large screen theater, and three powerful telescopes. They are open late on Friday and Saturday evenings for telescope viewing too!
Oakland Zoo: 977 Golf Links Drive, Oakland
Oakland Zoo, is a 100-acre zoo located in southeastern Oakland. The zoo is relatively small for a city of its size, but it contains modern exhibits. My kids practically grew up in this zoo, and if you're around in the summer, they have a great summer camp program. My kids love the reptile house and riding the train (when they were younger). There are some kiddie rides your young ones will enjoy too!
Lawrence Hall of Science: 1 Centennial Dr, Berkeley
The Lawrence Hall of Science is UC Berkeley's public science center--and it's really fun! There's so much to do inside--build, explore, imagine, play and always learn. Be sure to go down the stairs and to the right to get to their hands-on animal room (my kids love this!) There's a cafeteria with good (and healthy) food, and whatever you do, don't miss going outside where the kids can build dams and you can all enjoy the spectaular 180 degree view of the San Francisco Bay. There is a parking lot across from this museum, but we always sneak into the one just to the right of the museum. It costs a few dollars to park. Finally, it's a tradition in my family that every time we enter and leave LHS my kids have to climb on the giant DNA sculpture (it's allowed)!
Lindsey Wildlife Center: 1931 First Avenue, Walnut Creek
This is a small museum, right next to a park (bring lunch for a picnic). There are real, live birds on the outside of cages (with broken wings). The Lindsey Wildlife Center rescues and cares for sick and injured animals. Anyone who finds a wounded animal can call them. They do demonstrations and some meet-the-animal presentations throughout the day. Be sure to check out the surgery room on the top floor. Open the drawers where your kids will find all the tools a veterinarian might use in a surgery.