Visiting the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley - 510 Families
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Visiting the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley

It is no secret that we’re big fans of The Lawrence Hall of Science. The science museum offers indoor space as well as significant outdoor space, with an epic view of the Bay. One 3-year-old first-time visitor we know, upon seeing the huge body of water stretching out below, asked “Mommy, did we bring my bathing suit?”

Outdoors at Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley
Enjoy the view before entering the science museum at the top of the Berkeley Hills | Photo: Whitney Moss

What to Expect at the Lawrence Hall of Science

Your family will be able to explore lots of fun hands-on science and design activities, ranging from animal observations to simple physics phenomena. The Museum also brings in rotating exhibits so the themes may change since your last visit.

Arriving at the Lawrence Hall of Science

Reserve your tickets online before you visit or purchase them at the door upon arrival. The parking kiosk accepts cards and payment is also available via Pay by Phone app. When you cross the plaza towards the main entrance of the Museum, don’t hesitate to get distracted by the sculpture of DNA, the large whale, or the fountain. All three are inviting for little ones to explore — so take your time and enjoy the surroundings.

Climbing on the dna double helix structure
Experience the shape of a double helix firsthand by climbing inside the massive DNA sculpture | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Whatever exhibit is currently available has been thoughtfully design to raise questions about motion, energy, and mechanics. Visitors will enjoy designing, building, and testing their own creations.

child at science museum
Watching his rocket fly super high at The Lawrence Hall of Science | Photo: Julie Herson

The outdoor science area at the back of the main level offers more hands-on opportunities for kids to learn about Forces that Shape the Bay. Kids love getting their hands wet, controlling the water flow, messing around in the erosion tables, and gazing out at the Bay with the telescopes. The Sunstones are also a fun place to see science and art interact, or at the very least a cool place for kids to climb and play.

child outside on sun stone
The beautiful outdoor area at the Lawrence Hall of Science offers a stunning view as well as more fun learning experiences | Photo: Julie Herson

The Animal Discovery Zone

Make sure to go down the stairs to find the Animal Discovery Zone, open from 11 am to 4 pm. You’ll see reptiles and other small creatures in tanks, place down at a child-friendly level.

The Outdoor Nature Lab

Located just off the lower level, the Outdoor Nature Lab is all about sparking curiosity of the natural world. Kids have an opportunity to immerse themselves in a beautiful, natural environment where they can climb, crawl, and explore. During our family’s visit, there were scopes set up to observe lichen on trees and tools available for child-led discovery throughout the grounds. There was also a storytime under the covered patio. My oldest enjoyed climbing on the large fallen tree and stump stairs.

Outdoor Nature Lab
Borrow tools or bring your own for self-led discovery | Photo: Maureen Burke

There are a dozen large picnic tables for eating lunch, plus a grassy area that is perfect for naps or running around. A fence extends around the perimeter, though some upper levels are only accessible by stairs. The space is designed for self-guided activities, so it may not be the best fit for kids who prefer more structured play. It’s certainly a beautiful place to take a breather or enjoy a snack.


Membership: Is it worth it?

I’m a big fan of the Lawrence Hall of Science, and science museums in general, but is the price of membership worth it? I wanted to evaluate what’s included and excluded in the membership dues and compare it to how many times my family would need to attend to break even.

Experimenting at Lawrence Hall of Science
Photo: Icarian Photography

Regular admission prices to Lawrence Hall of Science:

$20 Adults | $20 Children 3–17
FREE for children age 2 and under, UC Berkeley students and staff.
Tickets for shows are $5 per person.
Museums for All: Free to EBT cardholders with valid ID.

Perks of family membership to Lawrence Hall of Science:

  • $160 covers two adults that don’t need to reside in the same household who may enter as a party of up to 6 people
  • Unlimited general admission to the Hall for 1 year from purchase*
  • Two personalized adult Member cards
  • Five free guests with each visit for either adult cardholder
  • 10% discount at the Discovery Corner Toy & Book Store
  • Priority registration on Summer Camps and select programs
  • Invitations to Members-only events and exhibition openings
  • Reduced admission to more than 350 ASTC science centers and museums worldwide

The break-even point for families

We kicked in for the membership because we have four children. With two adults and four kids under age 18, a single visit for my household would run 6 x $20 = $120. So we only need to visit the museum twice per year to get our value out of it!

If you have two parents and two children, admission is $80 per visit, so you need to go three times in a year to save any money.

What membership doesn’t get you:

  • Free classes, camps, parties, workshops
  • Free parking all the time (parking is about $1/hour)

When it’s not worth it to become members:

Membership might not be a great idea if you have a best friend with fancy membership since they can invite guests for free. Other times when you might want to skip it: you tend to be on your own with a young toddler (who’s already FREE) so your visit costs $20 total; you work for Cal; you have a membership to another reciprocal museum, or you’re just not that into awesome science.

Plan your visit to The Lawrence

Location: 1 Centennial Drive, Berkeley, CA

Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 10 am – 5 pm.

Admission: Adults & children ages 3+: $20 Children 2 & under: FREE  Members: FREE

Reserve tickets in advance >

Parking: An ample parking lot is available, and you must cross a road to enter the museum, so stay close to your child.

Food: There is no cafe, although folks may remember one from the pre-pandemic days. No eating inside. You can bring your own food and eat outside. Basic snacks are sold in the gift shop, but be warned before you enter: it’s a full-scale toy store!

Restrooms: Yes, nice and clean, but downstairs.

Ages: We love it for ages two and up, depending on the exhibits.

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