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Where to explore the best of tech and science in San Francisco

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Whether you’re most drawn to design, science, or tech, San Francisco is a veritable playground for nerding out on all fronts. And all of these destinations are reachable via public transit, not to mention less than a half-hour drive from the San Francisco International Airport under normal traffic conditions — perfect for Californians and visitors alike.

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1. Borderlands Books

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866 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-8203
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You can’t call yourself a science fiction fan and visit (or live in) the Bay Area without at least one stop at Borderlands Books. This iconic bookstore is so beloved that customers have played a huge role in brainstorming a "sponsorship" model to keep its doors open, at a time when independent establishments have been deeply undercut by online conglomerates. The adjoining cafe, free wifi (available during the daytime on weekdays), and on-point book recommendations make this a reliable and enjoyable stop for 20 minutes or two hours.

2. Presidio

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Presidio
San Francisco, CA

This public park has come into the spotlight in just the past few years, thanks to recent entertainment, commercial, and hospitality developments. For film nerds, the main attractions are the Walt Disney Family Museum, covering the history of animation and movie-making technology through the lens of the Disney empire, and the Letterman Digital Arts Center — home to Industrial Light & Magic, LucasArts, and Lucasfilm. Even if you loathe selfies, a snap with the Yoda fountain outside of Building B is a must. Inside the lobby, find props, costumes, and, of course, a life-size Darth Vader statue.

3. Museum of Craft and Design

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2569 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 773-0303
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Under radar even for many locals, the Museum of Craft and Design is a small museum with a big science-y and architectural bent. To be fair, the 13-year-old institution only moved to the Dogpatch neighborhood in 2013. Since then, it’s packed into a single (albeit spacious) room curious exhibits like an interactive “sewer portrait” that invites museumgoers to “compose” music by pumping water into a drainpipe installation; or a wool experience spanning everything from microscopic fiber imaging to a visual explanation of the felt-making process to creative home and decor applications of wool.

4. Noise Bridge

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2169 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

Modeled after the famed hacker communities in Europe, Noise Bridge is the place to tap into hacker culture. This self-run community celebrates all things art and technology with an open “do-ocratic” spirit. What this means for visitors and newcomers is that it’s easy to drop in for crash coding courses, soldering workshops, games of Go, and other hackery events — no matter if you’ve got an evening or a week free. All power tools, labs, and community resources are available at no charge (though donations and more creative forms of contribution, like light housekeeping, are always appreciated).

5. Temple Nightclub

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540 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 312-3668
Visit Website

Head to the intersection of science and nightlife and you’ll find yourself at Temple Nightclub, which is all about sustainability. The 20,000-square-foot club has three floors of electronic and hip hop fun to choose from, but we most love geeking out at the Infinity Lounge, where a kinetic floor generates energy for the room’s thousands of LEDs with dancing patrons’ movements. Stopping by during the day? Check out the organic Eco-Systm Cafe (attached to Temple’s $25-per-day coworking space) with a menu featuring ingredients from the rooftop garden.

6. Exploratorium

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Pier 15, The Embarcadero & Green St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 528-4444
Visit Website

Arguably one of the most loved hands-on science museums in the entire nation, the Exploratorium is a San Francisco classic for kids and grown-ups alike. Its claim to fame is its Tactile Dome, a maze of total darkness that requires visitors to rely on their sense of touch to navigate. Elsewhere in the museum — relocated to a new $220 million building on the Embarcadero in 2013 and worthy of a repeat visit — more than 600 interactive exhibits provide opportunities to tinker, experiment with light and vision, explore social behavior, and more.

7. South Park

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South Park
San Francisco, CA 94107

The city’s oldest park, dubbed “‘ground zero’ for the 1990s dot-com boom” by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks department, is a little-known hangout for paying techie homage. This unexpected stretch of greenery re-opened just this spring with new landscaping and design by Fletcher Studio, climbing structures, seating areas, and pathways — all part of a $3.8 million makeover. Bonus: The park is cradled by foodie favorites like The Butler and the Chef Bistro, a popular brunch option with French flair, and HRD, a budget-friendly Korean fusion eatery.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

1. Borderlands Books

866 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

You can’t call yourself a science fiction fan and visit (or live in) the Bay Area without at least one stop at Borderlands Books. This iconic bookstore is so beloved that customers have played a huge role in brainstorming a "sponsorship" model to keep its doors open, at a time when independent establishments have been deeply undercut by online conglomerates. The adjoining cafe, free wifi (available during the daytime on weekdays), and on-point book recommendations make this a reliable and enjoyable stop for 20 minutes or two hours.

866 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

2. Presidio

Presidio, San Francisco, CA

This public park has come into the spotlight in just the past few years, thanks to recent entertainment, commercial, and hospitality developments. For film nerds, the main attractions are the Walt Disney Family Museum, covering the history of animation and movie-making technology through the lens of the Disney empire, and the Letterman Digital Arts Center — home to Industrial Light & Magic, LucasArts, and Lucasfilm. Even if you loathe selfies, a snap with the Yoda fountain outside of Building B is a must. Inside the lobby, find props, costumes, and, of course, a life-size Darth Vader statue.

Presidio
San Francisco, CA

3. Museum of Craft and Design

2569 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Under radar even for many locals, the Museum of Craft and Design is a small museum with a big science-y and architectural bent. To be fair, the 13-year-old institution only moved to the Dogpatch neighborhood in 2013. Since then, it’s packed into a single (albeit spacious) room curious exhibits like an interactive “sewer portrait” that invites museumgoers to “compose” music by pumping water into a drainpipe installation; or a wool experience spanning everything from microscopic fiber imaging to a visual explanation of the felt-making process to creative home and decor applications of wool.

2569 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94107

4. Noise Bridge

2169 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Modeled after the famed hacker communities in Europe, Noise Bridge is the place to tap into hacker culture. This self-run community celebrates all things art and technology with an open “do-ocratic” spirit. What this means for visitors and newcomers is that it’s easy to drop in for crash coding courses, soldering workshops, games of Go, and other hackery events — no matter if you’ve got an evening or a week free. All power tools, labs, and community resources are available at no charge (though donations and more creative forms of contribution, like light housekeeping, are always appreciated).

2169 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

5. Temple Nightclub

540 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Head to the intersection of science and nightlife and you’ll find yourself at Temple Nightclub, which is all about sustainability. The 20,000-square-foot club has three floors of electronic and hip hop fun to choose from, but we most love geeking out at the Infinity Lounge, where a kinetic floor generates energy for the room’s thousands of LEDs with dancing patrons’ movements. Stopping by during the day? Check out the organic Eco-Systm Cafe (attached to Temple’s $25-per-day coworking space) with a menu featuring ingredients from the rooftop garden.

540 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94105

6. Exploratorium

Pier 15, The Embarcadero & Green St., San Francisco, CA 94111

Arguably one of the most loved hands-on science museums in the entire nation, the Exploratorium is a San Francisco classic for kids and grown-ups alike. Its claim to fame is its Tactile Dome, a maze of total darkness that requires visitors to rely on their sense of touch to navigate. Elsewhere in the museum — relocated to a new $220 million building on the Embarcadero in 2013 and worthy of a repeat visit — more than 600 interactive exhibits provide opportunities to tinker, experiment with light and vision, explore social behavior, and more.

Pier 15, The Embarcadero & Green St.
San Francisco, CA 94111

7. South Park

South Park, San Francisco, CA 94107

The city’s oldest park, dubbed “‘ground zero’ for the 1990s dot-com boom” by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks department, is a little-known hangout for paying techie homage. This unexpected stretch of greenery re-opened just this spring with new landscaping and design by Fletcher Studio, climbing structures, seating areas, and pathways — all part of a $3.8 million makeover. Bonus: The park is cradled by foodie favorites like The Butler and the Chef Bistro, a popular brunch option with French flair, and HRD, a budget-friendly Korean fusion eatery.

South Park
San Francisco, CA 94107

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