California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco Review. . .
Good for: Multiple visits, families, field trips
Price: $29.95/adult, $19.95/child (4-11), $24.95/senior or student, paid garage parking
Features: Rainforest, earthquake simulation, Living Roof
If you haven’t visited the California Academy of Sciences in it’s new location, you really should. Parking is extremely easy with the underground parking near the music concourse. The massive aquarium / planetarium / natural history museum / rainforest has so much to see for those of all ages. In fact, after a full day of exploring, we still didn’t get to visit:
- Science in Action
- Tusher African Hall
- Early Explorers Cove
Even with many school groups and tourists, there’s still plenty of room to enjoy the exhibits. The big open spaces and numerous skylights really make this unlike your typical museum experience.
We spent the majority of our time in the Rainforests of the World area. This enclosed section has a multitude of wildlife in the air, on land, underwater, and some that traverse them all. Unlike similar structures, temperatures in the rainforest are not unbearable. Yes, it is humid but not so much that sweat is dripping in your eyes, obstructing your view. My daughter was snapping photos like crazy – if you’d like to see a small gallery of her photos go here.
The butterflies were gorgeous! While none landed on us, we were able to get quite close to many of them. It really surprised Frans how the birds could feed right next to butterflies without, well, feeding on them!
See what a perfect place the Cal Academy is for families? Plus, the residents are happy to let you watch them as long as they can watch you back.
When you reach the fourth and final story of the rainforest, it’s time to take the elevator all the way down to the lower level aka the aquarium. Again, the collection of aquatic life cared for here is diverse and expansive. Plus, every kid loves an underwater tunnel (as seen by my photo-happy daughter). Well, I should say most kids as the one screaming at the end of a monkey backpack was having less than a stellar time waiting for the rest of his family . . .
Even though I’ve lived in California most of my life and have experienced many earthquakes, including that of ’89 (I was in 6th grade and home alone), I was still interested in visiting the Earthquake exhibit. Numerous displays shared facts as to what to do in an emergency and how best to prepare for it.
We didn’t spend too much time looking around here as the highlight was really the simulation part. After being led into a domed-projection room to see a short, five-minute film on the cause of earthquake, it was time to (safely) relive the quakes of 1989 and 1909.
Last to be mentioned but first stop of our visit was the Built for Speed exhibit. Directly facing the front entrance, this window-lined area housed a handful of activities, models, and environmental warnings. There was extensive information on the shape and design of sea life which helps them moved through the water, some at great speeds like the sailfish and squid.
Being in San Francisco, there HAD to be something dedicated to the 2-week America’s Cup sailing competition going on. The video footage was so exciting! Hanging overhead was the ORACLE Team USA’s AC45 catamaran. I had no idea these things were so huge! It was hard to imagine how the collapsed catamaran looked when in use but the smaller models helped quite a bit.
Visitors should be aware that evolution and the Big Bang Theory are heavily referred to throughout the museum, presented as historical fact. This may be a sensitive subject for some families so I wanted to mention it at least.
We horribly underestimated the time we’d spend at the CA Academy of Sciences and missed so much. Next time, we’ll have to dedicate an ENTIRE day to touring the property. Maybe we’ll even get a chance to see the Living Roof again and eat at the Academy Café. The food there looked so appetizing with so much to choose from!
Whether you enjoy flora, fauna, stars, earth science, marine life, or animal biology, the California Academy of Sciences does not disappoint! Spending the day here is perfect for abstract fun or an educational journey for public and homeschool students alike. Happy learning!
My family received complimentary admission for review purposes. All opinions are my own.