The Natural History Museum of Utah explores 500 million years of history.
Natural History Museum of Utah Salt Lake City
“Dinosaurs and more,” Ed Otto says. “This place is filled with innovative interactive exhibits connecting visitors to the wonders of the Great Basin.” nhmu.utah.edu.
Applegate Trail Interpretive Center Wolf Creek, Ore.
“One of the best unknown spots along I-5,” Katherine Wamsley says. “The tour guides are walking encyclopedias of western Oregon history.” Ask for a 10 percent AAA members’ discount. Closed December 1 through March 15. rogueweb.com/interpretive.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Monterey, Calif.
“The diversity and beauty of this place remind you that the world has so much to offer,” Molly Dekens says. “Swirling blue colors fill the hallways, and the fish, gleaming silver, swim by in tanks, sometimes overhead.” montereybayaquarium.org.
Musée Mécanique San Francisco
“Stop by Pier 45 and drop a dime or quarter,” David Schwoegler says. “The mechanical games and relics here entertained and amazed at Playland-at-the-Beach from the Depression through 1972.” museemecaniquesf.com.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Portland
“A great place to see movies—from the science type to family favorites—or to step inside a Vietnam War submarine,” Barbara Kochevar says. “You’ll also find exhibits on animals and Oregon history.” AAA members get a $1 discount on admission. omsi.edu.
Pacific Pinball Museum Alameda, Calif.
“At any time, this museum has 90 vintage pinball machines running, all set on free play,” Robert Gerst says. pacificpinball.org.
Sky High Sports Tigard, Ore.
“Thousands of feet of trampolines,” Julia Peters says. “Some are just for jumping, others just for dodgeball. You can practice jumps and flips into pits of soft foam.” por.jumpskyhigh.com.
Bay Model Sausalito, Calif.
“Some of the best things in life are free,” David Schwoegler says. “This hydraulic model of San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta fills a vast warehouse. It has guided many decisions, helping protect the bay, the delta, and related ecosystems.” oursausalito.com/bay-model.html.
California Academy of Sciences San Francisco
“Check out the after-work NightLife events on Thursday evenings,” Elizabeth Finger says. “They combine dancing, drinks, and lectures with the museum experience—fun!” calacademy.org.
Frederick Albert Sutton Building University of Utah, Salt Lake City
“A free museum of natural art and science,” Margie Middleton says. “There’s a curved wall display of fossil fish arranged in schools, a replica allosaurus skull, petrified wood, and polished rock.” www.earth.utah.edu.
Orchestria Palm Court San Jose
“I know of no other restaurant with several self-playing old music machines,” Russell Kriegel says. “They play while you dine—it’s at least as much fun as the Winchester Mystery House.” orchestriapalmcourt.com.
Salomon Center Ogden, Utah
“The ultimate in indoor cool,” Miles Constantine says. “Balance on a column of air while indoor skydiving, or go surfing, rock climbing, bowling, or indoor golfing, then round off the day with dinner.” salomoncenter.com.
Photography by Adam Finkle
This article was first published in January 2014. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.