Home to Steinhart Aquarium, Kimball Natural History Museum, Morrison Planetarium, and world-class research and education programs, the California Academy of Sciences is one of San Francisco’s must-see destinations. From its four-story living rainforest to its interactive space shows, the Academy’s exhibits will delight visitors of all ages.
You can see the white crocodiles, rainforest creatures, tropical fishes and all under an exemplar green rooftop. Free admission for everyone on the third Wednesday of every month. Get tickets early for the planetarium show or wait in their huge cafeteria and lobby area. Get an early start (open at 9:30 am) to get parking and avoid long lines.
This newly rebuilt 400,000 square foot "green" museum houses the Steinhart Aquarium, the Morrison Planetarium, the Kimball Natural History Museum and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof. There are close to 40,000 animals situated throughout the museum including African Penquins, Leafy Sea Dragons, Anacondas, Giant Octopuses, Amazonian Piranhas, Borneo fruit bats, Leaf-tailed Geckos, Tortoises, Stick Insects, Doves, Tanagers, Butterflies, and more.
For older eco-conscious teens, be sure to check out the living roof. Mimicking the seven hills of San Francisco, this roof is sure to be an unique experience.
A visit here is guaranteed to be both educational and fun and filled with cool surprises like an albino alligator.
So we've taken a few trips to the CA Academy of Sciences since it opened last fall. We like this place a lot! For a city museum The Academy has packed a lot into a relatively limited space (planetarium, aquarium, natural history museum, exhibits). The building architecture is way cool, and the aquarium goes on and on and on! The kids really enjoyed watching the penguins swim around and the butterflies fly about the bio-dome.
Since the place just opened it's probably a good idea to go on a weekday if you can...the weekend crowds are pretty dense, but you can still see most of the exhibits less the rain forest bio-dome if you don't arrive when it opens.
The food at the Cafe and Restaurant was pretty awesome as far as museum dining goes. They had a large selection of hot "sit down" and cold "grab-n-go" options, as well as a plethora of beverages. My sister was pleased with her ricotta and egg tart, and I enjoyed my relatively low key quesadilla and guacamole. Lastly, the outdoor, fenced patio area is perfect for kids to run and play while the grown-ups have some conversation time.
It would be easy to spend a small fortune for a family of 4 here. If you plan on going more than once a year it's probably a good bet to buy a membership.
This place surpassed my expectations, and I didn't even get through the entire thing. I have a 6 year old, 3 year old, and 9 month old. They all loved the exhibits, even my 9 month old was really into the aqauriums. The facility is pretty new (since september, I think) so it's very clean. The only thing that wasn't that great was the cafe. Maybe I ordered the wrong stuff, but I wasn't impressed.
I have been going to the Academy of Sciences since I was a little girl and it has only gotten better! It is best to get there early and make sure you go see the rain forest first so you don't hit a huge line, but other than that, I love it. My daughter loves the penguin feedings, the huge tanks she can walk up to and she even found "Nemo" it was very exciting for her. There is even a cove for toddlers to play in and give mom a break for a bit. The food here is surprisingly great as well!
We purchased a membership before the new CA Academy of Sci opened in the fall. We waited until March to go since all we heard about are the crazy crowds. We went on a Sunday morning and it IS crowded, but not terrible. If you're prepared, tell your kids to stay close, there are lots of great things to explore: the living roof, the rain forest, the alligator pit, the coral reef, and tons more. Unless you're really ambitious, I would recommend against taking kids in strollers; too cumbersome, and there are other less crowded places for little ones to get a good look at an aquarium and penguins. My 3 year old seemed to do fine, our 2.5 year old friend ran amok and got lost briefly. Locals who used to go to the old CA Academy of Sci say the changes are not for the better and that they miss some things and the feel of the original. But as someone who hadn't been to the old one, this is a pretty cool place!
We've got a season pass and try to go during member hours. The show at the planetarium is fun and jam packed with lots of science facts. The kids love the bug show as it is funny as well as educational. If your kids don't want to see other bugs eaten, then skip the show, but it is geared towered the younger crowd. The aquarium is wonderful and the penguins fun to watch. We enjoy going to the living roof to see the plants and the fantastic views of the city. It can be very crowded at the academy, so be prepared and go early. We always pack a lunch and eat it in the park after we've had our fill of the academy.
We went on a Saturday and it was packed. The tickets for the Planetarium and 3D movie were gone, and the academy admissions were expensive. . . $24.95 each and $19.95 for teens. We decided to exchange our day tickets for a membership, $159 for a family. We returned on Sunday when the first hour is members only. We thought, "Now we'll see the museum without crowds." I guess everybody who was there on Saturday returned as members on Sunday because the line for members extended out the door to Martin Luther King Jr Dr. Once we got inside it was crowded with members and the planetarium tickets were gone for the first few shows, so we had to wait. Maybe weekdays are less crowded, but most people work on weekdays and can't go. Who knows, maybe it is crowded with school field trips anyhow.
The museum and aquarium have nice exhibits, but I would not have chosen to go to the museum if I knew it was going to be so crowded. For me, it was not fun.
This place has everything and they really designed the space for kids. It's such a wealth of information. We've been back 4 times and we keep wanting to come back. It's really an amazing awesome space. Not to mention we live 15 mins away which is a bonus. The even have a play area for small kids. Very cool playspace. Go during the week if you can. Weekends are packed! If you come on the weekend, go first thing. And the worst time to go is during big holidays. Absolutely stuffed with parents and children. Overall a MUST SEE in SF!
Went on Free Day! WOW....a Must see for families!
New planatarium show is amazing. New Bug film is outstanding. The Rain Forest is not to be missed. All can be seen in 5 hours....we waited 1 hour for entrance...worth every moment. I brought guests from Chicago, had previously brought guests from New Zealand. 5 & 6 year olds enjoyed the WHOLE day....thought they might burn out early but the feeding of the Penguins in the middle of the afternoon reenergized all!
We really enjoyed the museum. There were kids and fish everywhere. Couldn't get to the 3D theater, but the planetarium and the Tropical rain forest were great. Watch out for the poisonous red dart frogs in the rain forest.
The museum was fun. I really liked the aquarium. I recommend going early in the morning. Hit the Planetarium first.
Super cool new Cal Academy of Sciences. Interactive exhibits with the butterfly rainforest. The planetarium has a great show with its gigantic screen. The architecture is fantastic. The Living Roof on the top allows for a sweeping vista point. Large crowds for now, hopefully it will thin out in 2009. Go check it out!
I agree with everybody that weekends are super crowded, but I got in an hour early on Sunday with a friend who is a member. Didn't have to pay either. We watched the Planetarium show for members only and explored the rainforest and aquarium. The planetarium show is excellent, shows how earth has evolved into the only living planet we know and does a great job showing the importance of taking care of the planet. There is so much to do and see that I will need to visit again.
My children loved it. Go on a weekday and the academy is not crowded at all. The planetarium and bug shows are great.
Really nice, but minus 1 star for being so incredibly crowded. We went on a free day (3rd Wednesdays of every month). Museum opens at 9.30am and by 10am there was a huge line stretching all the way to the DeYoung Museum opposite. It moved fairly quickly until the Cal Academy filled to capacity, then people outside had to wait until others left.
The line for the rainforest exhibit was so long (1 hour) that we decided to skip it. The aquariums downstairs are amazing with some beautiful and unusual animals (loved the sea dragons and the moss frog). However it was sooo crowded that it was uncomfortable for our 3 year old and 1.5 year old who were too small to see much without being carried.
The living roof is interesting and I've heard good things about the Cafe, but altogether there were just too many people. Of course, it was free that day, otherwise I would have felt pretty sad to spend $25 an adult to be crushed in a crowd! Although I have heard from other people that it's also very crowded on weekends.
We just visited with my neighbor's 4 and 7 year old children. They were excited, but I think I was more excited ... very good educational science museum, but it is also just plain fun. Our favorite part of the museum is the lower lever aquariums, but the entire place is great. We went on a Saturday, and I agree with the other review that it would be better on a weekday when it is less crowded. There were lines for the planetarium (which we skipped), and a huge line for the Brazilian rain forest. There is plenty to see and do. Get the family pass and plan several short visits.
We loved visiting the museum, but it was very crowded. I suggest not going on a Sunday, like we did. Even if you need to go on a weekend, it is well worth the visit if you like science museums, planetariums, animals, and fish. We will definetly return. Maybe we'll get the family pass, so we can return often.
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