California Academy of Sciences is a museum of natural history, located within San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The entry sits just across the Music Concourse from the stately, modern, de Young Museum. Also nearby is the Japanese Tea Garden.
When you pass through the large, glass, front doors of Cal Academy you’re immediately greeted by a cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex– a giant sized hello! Beyond that you can head in a myriad of directions; our favorite is straight downstairs to the Steinhart Aquarium. The subterranean floor full of fish is a popular spot, so we aim to see it before the crowds amass. A nice way to skirt some of the busier times is member hour on Tuesday and Sunday mornings– it’s generally very quiet with only a handful of visitors.
The Steinhart Aquarium boasts many floor to ceiling tanks that hold everything from native California Coast underwater kelp-ladden habitats to a remarkable Philippine Coral Reef, with beautiful, bright, fish darting about. They have a newer exhibit; Venom: Fangs, Stingers and Spines that winds through the depths of the aquarium level. Before heading back upstairs, walking through the flooded amazon forest is a must (tip: this area is also where the ride down from the rainforest exhibit lets you out).
Onto the Osher Rainforest where you will find four stories flush with wildlife of all varieties. It’s worth dressing in layers just for your time in the glass dome, as you will feel pretty steamy by the time you reach the top (tip: wearing bright yellows or greens might land you a close-encounter with a butterfly). If you didn’t start down in the aquarium, the ride down from the dome will leave you wandering through the flooded forest, and there you can wander through all the floor to ceiling tanks and exhibits.
On ground level you can reserve a seat for one of the shows in the Morrison Planetarium, join biologists at the end of Tusher African Hall for live penguin feedings twice daily (10:30am and 3:00pm), shake it up in the in the 7.9 magnitude earthquake simulator, and get up close with over 400 dazzling gems and unearthed minerals, on display at the second level.
Through the end of this year, if not longer, the Bugs exhibit is really something unique. Giant-sized honeycombs, mantises and interactive insect life is a great ending to a Cal Academy visit.
Snack and meal options are abundant at the Academy Cafe as well as the Terrace Restaurant. Between the two you will find a large patio with tables– you could also BYO and enjoy it here.
There are a handful of ways to purchase tickets for entry to Cal Academy, you can find them HERE.
Please give us a tag if you make it to The California Academy of Sciences, and share what you liked best.