Play Space Review: Early Explorer’s Cove at California Academy of Sciences

Early Explorer’s Cove

55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

One of the very first outings I took my infant on was a trip to the Cal Academy to visit the aquarium, but it wasn’t until a few months later that I learned about the Early Explorer’s Cove. This is a wonderful place for toddlers and preschoolers, and I think crawlers also can do very well here.


  • Has a great animal, nature, and science focus
  • Capacity is strictly limited so it never feels too crowded
  • There is a platform treehouse with multiple types of steps and a bridge
  • Toys and books are rotated seasonally


  • Overall smaller footprint than most play spaces
  • Very small infant section that can often be disorganized

Thoughts: This play space is my favorite for gross motor skill development as the treehouse creates an ideal setup for older crawlers and new walkers to work on climbing up and down stairs. The space is well set up for its size, and tiny humans can participate in many activities that engage them with nature, animals, and science.

Keep in Mind: Adults and tiny humans need to wear socks in the play space. Due to capacity limitations on weekends and holidays there will often be a line to get into the play space after entry to the museum.


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