Expose Yourself to Art 

From museums to theaters, the Bay Area has you covered.

Museums — East Bay

The African American Museum and Library (659 14th St., Oakland, 510-637-0200) houses an archive of 160 collections of diaries, newspapers, oral history, and video recordings focusing on the Bay Area and Northern California; a 12,000-volume reference library; and a museum featuring changing exhibits.

Berkeley Art Museum (2625 Durant Ave., Berkeley, 510-642-0808) is a striking modernist structure with a collection of 14,000 objects; it's a preeminent university museum.

The Exploratorium (Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon St., San Francisco, 415-561-0399) is a science museum with hands-on, family-friendly exhibits housed inside the ornate Palace of Fine Arts.

HABITOT Children's Museum (2065 Kittredge St., Berkeley, 510-647-1111) features prizewinning exhibits, art programs, multicultural performances, and even a toy-lending library for young children.

Judah L. Magnes Museum (2911 Russell St., Berkeley, 510-549-6950) preserves tradition for the Bay Area's large Jewish population, with 8,000-plus ceremonial and decorative items and an extensive library.

Lindsay Wildlife Museum (1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek, 925-935-1978) affords visitors close encounters with eagles, owls, bobcats, opossums, snakes, turtles, and other animals once treated at its wildlife hospital but deemed unreleasable.

Lucky Ju Ju Pinball & Pacific Pinball Museum (713 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, 510-205-9793) is an old-school pinball palace that also features rotating art exhibits.

Mills College Art Museum (5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, 510-430-2164) focuses on women artists and curators with well-installed, thoughtful, eclectic shows, and free admission.

The Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St., Oakland, 510-238-2200), an East Bay cultural institution since 1969, specializes in art, history, and the natural sciences of California.

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (Kroeber Hall, Bancroft Way at College Ave., Berkeley, 510-643-7649) has almost 4 million objects, and is the West's oldest, largest anthropological museum.

The USS Hornet Museum (Pier 3, Alameda Pt., Alameda, 510-521-8448) played a crucial part in WWII, recovered the Apollo 11 and 12 astronauts in 1969, and has been docked here since 1998.

Museums — San Francisco

The Asian Art Museum (200 Larkin St., San Francisco, 415-581-3500) houses 17,000 artworks from all over Asia in an accessible location near City Hall.

The de Young Museum (Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., San Francisco, 415-750-3600) showcases an extensive collection of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; Mesoamerican, Central, and South American artifacts; African art; and Oceanic art.

The Museum of the African Diaspora (685 Mission St., San Francisco, 415-358-7200) traces the breakup and scattering of African blacks across space and time with exhibits, programs, and events.

The Palace of the Legion of Honor (Lincoln Park, 34th Ave. & Clement St., San Francisco, 415-750-3600) is the last of San Francisco's old-style museums, boasting an unbeatable view of the Golden Gate, along with collections of ancient art, illustrated books, European painting and decorative art, fine prints, and Rodin bronzes.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (151 Third St., San Francisco, 415-357-4000), established in 1935, features high-profile exhibitions that have fixed it at the center of the city's art scene.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St., San Francisco, 415-978-2700) is a venue for new-media conceptualism and a good place to see what's shaking in visual art before it migrates to SFMOMA.

Performance Venues

The Berkeley Community Theatre (1930 Allston Way, Berkeley, 510-644-6348), a 3,500-capacity venue located on the Berkeley High School campus, has seen the likes of the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, and Metallica.

The Fillmore (1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, 415-346-6000, TheFillmore.com) is the place where Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis recorded live albums back in the day, and it's still one of the best places in the world to see a show.

The Grand Ballroom at the Regency Center (1290 Sutter St., San Francisco, 415-673-5716) is a midsize room that boasts Scottish Rite architecture, high ceilings, and a balcony for maximum viewing pleasure.

The Greek Theatre (Gayley Rd. at Hearst Ave., Berkeley, 510-809-0100) is one of the most picturesque outdoor settings for live music in the Bay Area; there's not a bad seat in the house.

The Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, 415-392-4400) is a stately venue featuring large murals, chandeliers, and a gold-leaf ceiling. It's an exquisite place for watching the finest arts and culture performances, including dance, lectures, classical music concerts, films, and more.

Historic Sweet's Ballroom (1933 Broadway, Oakland, HistoricSweetsBallroom.com), a magnificent 12,000-square-foot ballroom, channels an earlier, more glamorous era of Oakland's past.

Julia Morgan Center for the Arts (2640 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-8542) hosts a wide variety of events including the Berkeley Opera, Berkeley Ballet Theater, a whole bunch of children's theater groups, a storytelling series, and world music and dance events.

The Lesher Center for the Arts (1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, 925-943-7469) is home to the Center REPertory Company, Contra Costa Musical Theatre, Diablo Light Opera Company, Festival Opera, Diablo Ballet, and dozens of frequent visitors like Lamplighters, California Symphony, and Smuin Ballet.

The ORACLE Arena (7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, 510-569-2121) and adjacent Coliseum are home to beloved local sports teams the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders, and the Oakland A's, and they're also the biggest venues for entertainment in the East Bay.

The Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway, Oakland, 510-465-6400) once served as a movie palace, and is now home to the Oakland East Bay Symphony and touring musical and comedy acts, theater, and ballet performances.

Shoreline Amphitheatre (One Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View, 650-967-3000, ShorelineAmp.com) is the largest outdoor venue in the Bay Area — it sits on more than sixty acres and holds 22,000.

The Sleep Train Pavilion (2000 Kirker Pass Rd., Concord, 925-676-8742) is a midsize outdoor amphitheater nestled in the hills of Concord's outskirts toward Clayton, and kitty-corner from the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Zellerbach Hall (UC Berkeley, 510-642-9988) hosts the Cal Performances series of truly world-class performances — from Russian ballet to Mark Morris, Australian punk circus to Peking acrobats, Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Cecilia Bartoli, Italian commedia to Chinese opera.

Recreational Facilities

Albany Bowl (540 San Pablo Ave., Albany, 510-526-8818) is the place for casual fun or league bowling for those more serious; don't miss the bowl's weekly Monday night Roc-N-Bowl, where you can enjoy cheap games and pumping rock 'n' roll from 10 p.m. till 2 a.m.

Berkeley Ironworks (800 Potter Street, Berkeley, 510-981-9900) features a 45-foot-high climbing wall, and numerous pathways and challenge levels to the peak.

Berkeley Skate Park (5th and Harrison streets, Berkeley, 510-526-5415) offers 18,000 square feet of cement for private lessons, skateboard camp, or a birthday party.

The Broken Rack (6005 Shellmound St., Emeryville, 510-652-9808) has nineteen tables to fill the needs of billiards aficionados.

Camp Winnarainbow (Laytonville off of Highway 101, 510-525-4304), founded by Wavy Gravy, has tightropes, hula hoops, and juggling sticks for campers who play games, craft, and learn new skills.

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