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One of the interactive exhibits in the Bay Observatory Gallery

Covering 330,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor space and housing five massive galleries and 600 interactive exhibits, the new Exploratorium is overwhelming in the most awesome sense. Here are our recommendations for what to see on your first visit--because you?ll return many times, trust us.

?The Tinkerers' Clock? Towering above you at 21 feet in the South Gallery is engineer-slash-cartoonist Tim Hunkin?s whimsical masterpiece that made us literally light up. Constructed out of metal, wood and electronics, the clock has numbered appendages that open up like wings and illuminate every hour on the hour, as a dramatic gong strikes.

?Fog Bridge? In the Outdoor Gallery, Japanese ?fog sculptor? Fujiko Nakaya worked with a local cloud physicist to create this spectacular installation on a small bridge. Eight hundred minuscule high-pressure nozzles stream bay water into the air, where it then billows into clouds of fog that shift in the wind.

?Giant Mirror? No joke, we stood in front of this trippy mirror in the Central Gallery for ten minutes. Its depth and concave shape produce optical illusions as you walk closer or stand farther away.

One more tip: Thursday evenings are reserved for adults only--just don?t forget to bring your inner kid along.

The Exploratorium opens on Wednesday at Pier 15 on The Embarcadero and Green St.; 415-528-4444 or

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