The Exploratorium, San Francisco
Relocated from its longtime home at San
Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts a few years
back, the significantly expanded Exploratorium now sits at Pier 15 along the city’s
attractive waterfront. It provides one of the
world’s most interesting learning laboratories melding science, art and transformative education.
Guests can venture into the mo-bile Camera Obscura and see an upside-down world, step inside a tornado,
walk on a fog bridge or explore any one of
more than 650 other intriguing exhibits at
the 330,000-square foot, indoor-outdoor
Located in the vibrant heart of the
historic Embarcadero, the LEED-certified
Exploratorium is also as one of the city’s
most sought-after event venues, hosting
everything from intimate gatherings, meetings and seminars to large events for up to
3,500 people. All proceeds from event rentals go to support the nonprofit educational
mission and programs of the museum.
“When your guests attend an event at
the Exploratorium, it is not just anoth-
er event,” said Amy Adkins, director of
museum rentals and concessions. “It is a
full interactive experience that will allow
them to both relax and enjoy delicious
food, but also explore, play and discover
All of the Exploratorium’s gallery spaces,
some with sweeping views of the bay
and Bay Bridge, can be rented for private
events. Each gallery has a unique theme
with corresponding interactive exhibits
focusing on topics such as social sciences;
light, sound, vision and hearing; life sci-
ences; and the geography of the region.
The Museum of Flight, Seattle
With more than 175 aircraft and spacecraft,
tens of thousands of artifacts, millions of rare
photographs, dozens of exhibits and experiences and a world-class library, The Museum
of Flight is the largest independent, nonprofit
air and space museum in the world. And it
just became as fascinating as it gets.
The Museum of Flight recently introduced
Apollo, The Exhibit, the first public display
of the long-lost Apollo 12 and 16 F-1 rocket
engines that launched the Apollo astronauts
to the Moon. The exhibit features many other
unique artifacts from the Space Race, including Moon rocks, a lunar roving “moon buggy,”
the only Viking Mars lander on Earth, space
suits and the first Apollo command module.
Meanwhile, The Museum of Flight’s
other experiences have made it one of the
most popular family-friendly destinations
in the Pacific Northwest. The 3-D Movie
Theater showcases the wonder of aviation
and spaceflight, while guests can partake in
exciting hands-on experiences such as space
shuttle trainer tours, flight simulators offering
everything from full-moon loops to rolls and
aerobatics, pilot experiences and behind-the-scenes Boeing Field Tours.
Several unique event venues are also a
highlight of the museum—accommodating
everything from small affairs to 1,200-per-
son-plus gatherings. Standout options
include T.A. Wilson Great Gallery, an opulent
six-story, glass-enclosed space featuring
many dramatic aircraft—including the iconic
Blackbird spy plane and the J. Elroy McCaw
Personal Courage Wing, a two-floor space
with dramatic interactive exhibits highlighting 28 WWI and WWII fighter planes.
“We provide extraordinary spaces where
guests can celebrate and dine among historical aircraft,” said Cindy Messey, private
events manager at the museum. “Some of
our most memorable events have been intimate gatherings where clients have chosen
the museum because of their personal ties
with aviation or with a specific plane.
“Through military reunions, weddings,
memorials, even corporate events, it’s amaz-
ing to see how aviation has influenced so
many individuals,” she added.
Springs Preserve, Las Vegas
A massive cultural campus offering entertainment, education and recreation, Springs
Preserve, located at the original water source
for the valley, celebrates Las Vegas’ dynamic
history—natural and otherwise—and provides a vision for a sustainable future.
Consisting of 180 acres of green buildings,
museums, galleries, botanical gardens, playgrounds, traveling science and nature exhibits, live animal exhibits and shows, walking
trails, a train and 20 family-friendly seasonal
events each year, the Springs Preserve is a
true community gathering place, according
to Dawn Barraclough, public relations representative at the facility.
“The Springs Preserve is a great place for
families to explore the natural side of Las
Vegas and how water gives life to the desert,”
she said. “The Mojave is an intriguing place
where plants, animals and people have lived
for thousands of years, at this very location,
The preserve offers an array of unique
venue options, including an early Las Vegas
streetscape called Boomtown 1905, beautiful
sustainable buildings, a cafe with one of the
best views of the valley, an award-winning
botanical garden, and an amphitheater with
the Strip in the background. On-site tours
and activities are also available.
“One of our favorite ways to highlight
the diversity of the site for large groups is a
dine-around experience,” Barraclough said.
“Imagine cocktails in the Botanical Gardens
at sunset followed by a train ride to Boomtown 1905 for Old West-inspired delicacies,
and then a moonlit walk to the Divine Cafe
for a full view of the Strip and gourmet desserts.
SPRINGS PRESERVE, LAS VEGAS
THE MUSEUM OF FLIGHT, SEATTLE