Sunday, December 5, 2010

Larwrence Hall of Science in Berkley

We're big fans of science museums (as you may have been able to tell by the reviews listed here so far), but the Lawrence Hall of Science is one of our favorites. It's among the great hands-on science centers of the Bay Area. It's also a little less expensive than many of the other big science museums, right now running at $6.00 to $9.00 for kids and $12.00 for adults, kids under 3 are free.

One of the things we like best about the Lawrence Hall of Science is that it has generally not overwhelmingly crowded when we've visited. We may have to wait a moment to take a turn with an experiment or a table, but most of the time we don't. Usually the stations we have to ration ourselves with and share the most are the big, new ones in the main lobby. There is usually enough room to move, and take time at each science station without feeling like other as hovering around waiting for us to move.

My oldest daughter took a one-day workshop on animal adaptations that she told me she enjoyed very much. I only peeked through the window from the hall, but the group of kids all looked enthralled with the class.

Some of the exhibits change every few months or so and you can see both the current and upcoming themes on the Lawrence Hall of Science website. There are also many exhibits that stay the same all the time, so not everything will be brand new if you visit a few times a year.

The only thing I've been disappointed in was the planetarium show. It's a fairly small planetarium, so the host/speaker is very accessible for asking questions of, which is nice, but the shows we've seen have been underwhelming. One of the shows we watched was projected with a regular projector as a traditional rectangular screen, which made viewing very difficult for anyone sitting underneath it in the circular room. It seem to be a waste of a domed planetarium to me. On the upside, tickets are very cheap, only $4 (it isn't included in the admission cost). But if you're short on time, or unsure if you want to stop and see a show, I'd pass and stick with the other great options available at the museum.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 2010 Fun Stuff to Do

Ardenwood Historic Farms: December 4th and 5th 2010 -
This is one of my favorite new holiday traditions. Ardenwood is a historic farm in Freemont. The first weekend in December they have their Christmas festival. They celebreate in Victorian era style. They have carolers, Victorian crafts, the Patterson House is all decked out in Christmas atire, Father Christmas is there, and there is a yule log hunt, plus a lot more. It's a fun place to visit any time of year, but Christmastime is my favorite. Dress warm, since it's an outdoor event.

Crockett's Winder Block Party: December 4th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm -
I've never been to this event, but it sounds like a ton of fun: " Amble down one of Crockett's most historic blocks through the Crockett Library, Crockett Historical Museum, East Bay NTRAK Model RR, and Carquinez Women's Clubs' "Old Homestead". Enjoy: caroling, Christmas stories, crafts, Betty Buttons the Clown with her balloon animals and hats, Don O'Brien and the "Extreme Science Magic Show".
Refreshments provided. FREE!"

Tilden Nature Area Family Restoration Day (Berkley): December 12th -
"Join other families who care about the environment on this action-oriented program. Learn about nature's interrelationships and help remove invasive plants. Make a difference while having fun! Rain cancels. This is a drop in program; no registration is required. For information, call (510) 544-2233. "

Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco: Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 2010; 11:00am - 7:00 pm -
I've never been to this either, but every review I've read, and everyone I've talked to that has gone enjoyed it. It's a little more pricey than some of the other things on this list, but if you love this time period, you'll probably find it worthwhile.

Holiday Frolic and Snow Park, Martinez: Dec 3rd, 4th, and 5th -
They have snow to play in! How much better can it get than that? (Okay, they have some other fun activities and crafts too) There is a small charge for the snow play and sledding, but most of the events are free here, including a tree lighting and a holiday light parade.

Dunsmuir Historic Estate, Oakland:
I've had some trouble finding specifics for this, such as what dates the Christmas events go on, but several friends say this is a really fun place to visit, so I'm going to list it. If anyone visits, or knows more, please feel free to comment and share!

Local libraries all over the Bay Area are doing tons of fun December activities for families and kids. Check out your local county library's website to see what the branches near you are up to.