Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: What You Need to Know


Livermore offers the promise of rolling vineyards, peaceful landscapes, outstanding cultural events…and some of the most cutting-edge science in the world. That’s right, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is sometimes referred to as “the smartest square mile on Earth.”

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been operating for more than 60 years with the mission to make the world safer through applied science and technology. The Lab’s first responsibility is to ensure our country’s nuclear safety, but the facility’s broader mission is to use science and engineering to find breakthroughs in everything from terrorism to climate change.

Sounds pretty classified, huh? Of course when national security is involved, there’s a lot of layers of necessary protections involved, but you can still visit the lab and see for yourself how science and technology are changing the world.

History of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Like many of our nation’s most enduring technological programs, the Lab was established during the Cold War, in 1952, to meet the urgent need for knowledge and security of nuclear science. Berkeley scientist E.O. Lawrence envisioned what the Lab has become: a multidisciplinary team effort for the creation of new ideas.

In the 50s, of course, the Lab focused on nuclear programs. Once something of a peace on the issue was established in the 60s, the Lab began its bioscience and environmental programs. The 1970s brought laser science to the facility; in the 80s, scientific computing; in the 90s, nonproliferation programs; and currently, the Lab seeks to advance and apply science and technology to ensure national security within the global context, including energy security.

Visiting the Lab

Entry is of course restricted, but that doesn’t mean visitors aren’t welcome. The Discovery Center, located just outside the Laboratory’s gates off Greenville Road, is open to the public, and pre-arranged tours of the Laboratory are also available on Tuesday mornings. Call (925) 422-4599 for more information.

The Discovery Center

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory features an open-to-the-public Discovery Center.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Discovery Center provides visitors with a window into state-of-the-art research programs, computational capabilities and experimental tools. Displays of science and technology, highlights of the Lab’s history, and hands-on experiments are available free of charge.

Visit the Discovery Center on Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., Lab holidays excluded.


Only 50 miles outside San Francisco, the Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory is convenient to anywhere in the Bay Area—but nothing beats the nearby Purple Orchid. Located right in Livermore, our beautiful Inn and Spa offers a peaceful escape in the heart of Livermore Wine Country. Don’t forget to download our free area vacation guide to help plan your stay!

Check out our recommendations for things to do in Livermore: whether you’re into hiking, biking through the vineyards (or simply driving around to them), indulging in delicious restaurants Downtown, or golfing. The Bankhead Theater is our favorite place for cultural events—although we have wonderful annual events throughout the year, and the Wente Vineyards summer concert series is just starting up, too!