5 Great Spots to Learn About SF Bay

As the mom of an inquisitive 7 year old, I’m always looking for fun and beautiful places for my family to learn more about San Francisco Bay.  Here are 5 of my favorite places to learn, play and explore:

  1. Exploratorium: Science-based learning is a huge part of our mission here at Save The Bay.  And the Exploratorium located at Pier 15 in San Francisco shares that value. With hundreds of exhibits to explore and engage with, The Exploratorium has many Bay-related exhibits. Check out the Bay Observation Terrace on the upper level where you can uncover the history, geography and ecology of the Bay Area.  Plus, walk right outside and enjoy the beautiful vistas of San Francisco Bay.

    Exploratorium photo, save the bay staff
    The Exploratorium’s waterfront location offers stunning Bay views. Photo: Save The Bay staff
  2. CuriOdyssey: If learning about wildlife interest you, CuriOdyssey has many exhibits dedicated to animals that call San Francisco Bay Area home including the river otter and the black crowned night heron. Walk through a 4,000-square-foot aviary and see if you can spot a snowy egret or a golden eagle.

    3453-2 Snowy Egret Arrowhead Marsh
    Snowy Egret at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland. Photo: Rick Lewis
  3. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge: Visit the nation’s first urban national wildlife refuge on the southern end of San Francisco Bay in Fremont. Don Edwards NWR has 30,000 acres that host millions of migratory birds and endangered species. There are numerous recreation activities to choose from including wildlife viewing and interpretive walks. If you are lucky, you might spot two endangered species endemic to San Francisco Bay: the Ridgway’s rail and the salt marsh harvest mouse.

    Newark Slough, Photo: Paul Crockett
    Newark Slough, Don Edwards NWR Photo: Paul Crockett
  4. Aquarium of the Bay: Committed to protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay, the Aquarium of the Bay is a great place to discover more about marine animals. Get up close to some of the native shark species that call the Bay home like the leopard shark and the sevengill shark. Check out these fun “shark-tivities” including feeding the sharks, a shark touch pool and an exciting walk through the underwater tunnel.

    The Broadnose Sevengill Shark is one of six shark species that live in San Francisco Bay.Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium
  5. Bay Area Discovery Museum: With expansive views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito is a great way to play and learn about the Bay.  Play outdoors and feel the rush of cold-water tide pools, climb around iconic Bay Area landmarks or be a ship captain in Lookout Cove. Play indoors in Bay Hall with boats, ships and a Fisherman’s Wharf model.  This is a fun destination to be inspired by the Bay’s beauty and let your imagination run wild.

    Golden Gate Bridge at Sunset - Photo: Jill Zwicky
    View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Cavillo Point. Photo: Jill Zwicky

These 5 great spots to learn about SF Bay, have my 7 year old’s seal of approval!

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Looking for more ways to celebrate and enjoy the beauty of our Bay? Check out top spots to celebrate the bay, curated by our friends at Yelp!

Guest Post | Remembering the Honorable Don Edwards

Former San Jose Congressman Don Edwards passed away last week at the age of 100. I first met him in the mid-1980s when I was working on nuclear arms reduction issues in Washington, DC. For years, he inspired me with his intellect, integrity, decency and effectiveness in Congress.

We’re privileged to share this guest blog – a personal remembrance of Don Edwards by another personal hero of mine: Florence LaRiviere.

For decades Florence has led the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, and she shares how the Committee worked with Rep. Edwards to create the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country, right here in San Francisco Bay. It’s an inspiring example of how elected officials can be responsive to requests from the public, and why Don Edwards embodied hope. The Edwards’ family has suggested memorial donations to the Committee at www.bayrefuge.org.

– David Lewis

Florence LaRiviere
Florence LaRiviere stands before the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: U.S. FWS


I think it was one morning in the late 1960’s that I read a small notice in the Mercury News inviting anyone worried at the great rate the bay’s marshes were being destroyed, to come to an office in San Jose the following day.

That was my fist meeting with Art Ogilvie, a Santa Clara County planner who had the show-stopping idea that we could have a national wildlife refuge here, to save our remaining wetlands!

We went to every conceivable public meeting, showing pictures of our remarkable wildlife, and decrying the rapid destruction of most of the lands along the shoreline.

Then we arrived at the crucial moment — we had to have a member of congress to carry our bill to establish what proved to be a landmark, the first urban wildlife refuge in the nation.

As I remember, Art Ogilvie and Tom Harvey, biology professor at San Jose State, made the fateful visit to Congressman Don Edwards. They went, aware of his civil rights and peace activism, but knowing nothing about his environmental concerns. First, he took that most important beginning step — he listened to them. He recognized saving these lands was the right thing to do, and he had the vision and the political skill to bring along the entire bay area congressional delegation, with no regard to political party. Still, four years passed before his bill was enacted, and President Nixon signed it into law.

That was 1972 — we dusted off our hands, and had a party with Mr. Edwards to celebrate.

We felt pretty smug, in fact, it took us until 1986 to take another look and realize we were sadly lacking in a variety of habitat types. The only solution was to return to our congressman. And we did. His response was an immediate yes! This time, with the wonderful San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge already established, and soon to be named in his honor, the public responded with enthusiasm, and four hundred people came to Ohlone College to support Mr. Edwards at a public meeting on the issue. For once the opposition was wonderfully outnumbered by a large, enthusiastic and vocal group. This time, his bill was enacted the first year he proposed it, another red letter day — in October 1988!

Mr. Edwards’ living legacy is the marshes of San Francisco Bay, the wildlife that inhabits them, clean air and water and places of serenity for the human population.

His was a life well-lived.

– Florence LaRiviere, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge

City’s Plan Would Pave Bay Wetlands with Golf Course, Nearly 500 Houses

Photo of Area 4
Historic Bay tidal marsh, Newark’s “Area 4,” is one of the largest areas of restorable, undeveloped baylands in the South Bay (Photo by Margaret Lewis)

Should a bayside city work to help expand the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, restoring more than 400-football fields-worth of Bay wetlands and habitat? Or should they forever destroy that opportunity by filling in the area with an 18-hole golf course and nearly 500 single family houses?

Those are the choices right now in the City of Newark – a shoreline city of 40,000 next to Fremont. Rather than recognize the incredible opportunity to protect the Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge, endangered species, and migratory bird habitat, Newark is seeking approval to fill in over 300 acres of historic baylands, including nearly 100 acres of wetlands and aquatic habitat, sprawling the city into a FEMA-designated flood zone.

Environmental organizations and regulatory agencies have long stressed to Newark of the ecological importance of 550-acre “Area 4” – one of the largest areas of restorable, undeveloped baylands in the South Bay:

  • The 1999 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Project, the scientific roadmap for the restoration of the Bay shoreline, identifies Area 4 as being uniquely situated for the restoration of both tidal marsh and adjacent upland transition zones, two habitats critical to the health of the Bay
  • Area 4 is host to approximately a dozen special status species –including the endangered Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse – and it is directly adjacent to Mowry Slough, a primary breeding ground for San Francisco Bay Harbor Seals
  • The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board has stated that “large expanses of undeveloped uplands immediately adjacent to tidal sloughs are extremely rare in the south and central San Francisco Bay” and that “Area 4 represents a rare opportunity to … provide an area for tidal marsh species to move up slope in response to sea level rise”
  • Similarly, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have stated that “this wetland is an integral component of the San Francisco Bay ecosystem,” and “critically important to waterfowl and shorebirds.”

Yet Newark has ignored these concerns, proposing to fill in these rare wetlands and wildlife habitat with 2.1 million cubic yards of fill – enough dirt to fill nearly 100 trucks a day for two years straight!

The City should focus future growth within already developed areas, near transit, shops and services, not on ecologically-sensitive, restorable baylands at risk from flooding and sea level rise.

Update 10/11/2013: 

Opposition to Newark’s plan to build as many as 500 houses and an 18-hole golf course on one of the largest pieces of restorable Bay shoreline in the South San Francisco Bay is growing. More than 2,000 Bay Area residents submitted comments to the city on its General Plan. You added your voice to the chorus of opposition from regulatory agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), and the Water Board.

A letter submitted by Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS) staff stated, “the proposed development of Area 4 will only add to the cumulative loss of tidal wetlands in San Francisco Bay and endangered species that are dependent on that habitat.”

Your support also helped us convince several environmental organizations to send letters of opposition, including Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Greenbelt Alliance. Thanks to you, Newark’s plan will not go unnoticed much longer. Sign up here for updates on next steps.