The Randall Museum is a charming children's museum in Corona Heights Park. It has a series of permanent and temporary science and art exhibits that are intimately linked to life in the San Francisco Bay area and which promote hands-on learning.
One of the biggest draws is the animal exhibit: Over 100 animals—all endemic to the region, but for different reasons unable to survive in the wild—live at the museum, including snakes, lizards, tortoises, owls, and bees. Some can be touched and petted. The earthquake exhibit is another perennial favorite. Children can learn about plate tectonics, explore a replica earthquake refugee shack, and even create—and measure—their own earthquake by jumping up and down on the floor. Best of all, they can build LEGO structures and then test their earthquake resistance.
Other exhibits are often environmental in nature, dealing with such topics as urban animals, the oceans, and the wind. The museum has a whole host of educational facilities, including arts studios, a greenhouse, and a theater. Classes and special events take place throughout the year; Bug Day is a must-do if your visit coincides. Saturdays in particular are great for families, with workshops devoted to exploring woodworking and ceramics together.
The museum is open Tuesday–Saturday and admission is free. (Donations are, of course, much appreciated and well-deserved.)
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Animals, Earthquakes, and Trains--It's a Free Children's Museum!
The Randal is a free children's museum, and a small community museum. The Randal is perfect for a younger child or for a short outing with young school kids. There is a room of native and domestic live animals including rescued Owls, reptiles, rabbits, and this colony of honey bees (behind glass). There are Lego earthquake centers where children can build towers with Lego's and test them by creating a Lego size earthquake. There is a replica of a 1906 earthquake refugee shack, a play house with a puppet stage for kids to play in, and a train room with a train car replica to climb in. This free little museum has been a blessing on rain days with the kids, or when we just want to go explore somewhere for an hour. On weekends there are also art classes available--check the website for current information.