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Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, a living rainforest, and natural history museum, all combined under an amazing, living green roof. After our recent visit, we highly recommend a visit here as a must-do for families when in San Francisco. In fact, we enjoyed our time here so much, that I forgot to take more than just a couple of photos!
I must admit, I was a bit hesitant in visiting due to the cost of the entry fees for our family (nearly $150 USD!), however I promise you that the admission prices are worth it! We have visited several museums over the years, and this is hands-down our absolute favourite. The Academy is very family-friendly, with immersive and hands-on exhibits for the whole family to enjoy, making science fun while promoting the important message of sustainability and the future of our planet. We encountered scientists and museum volunteers during our time here, and all were happy to answer any questions we had, or point out items of interest.
After being greeted at the entry door by T-Rex, we were immediately drawn to the towering rainforest enclosed in a huge glass dome. The winding walkway takes you higher and higher into the canopy, where you can view the variety of birds (including macaws), butterflies and other insects that live here, before taking the elevator down and plunging below the waterline into a flooded forest.
After wandering through the transparent viewing tunnel and admiring the aquatic life – including an albino alligator! – we checked out the rest of the aquarium. Steinhart Aquarium is home to nearly 40,000 live animals, ranging from the California Coast to the Philippine coral reefs, and even the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, all set out in several impressive galleries. We were lucky enough to catch the ray and fish feeding session on our way out of the aquarium, which includes a very informative talk with a marine biologist.
The Morrison Planetarium is a 75-foot, out-of-this-world dome, which displays mind-blowing visualizations of our universe. The show we watched was Universe Update with a live presenter, and showcased different parts of our solar system that I was totally unaware of, from solar storms, to magnetic fields and even Jupiter’s moons. The show is adapted for each audience, as we were able to request places to visit and ask questions. We then finished up our time at the Academy with a quick safari through the Tusher African Hall, brought colour to life with the interactive Color of Life display, marveled at the 87-foot long blue whale skeleton (while trying to guess how many buses would fit inside him), and discovered the Giants of Land and Sea.
For an experience reminiscent of the movie ‘Night At The Museum’, you can even book in for the Penguins+Pajamas Sleepover! It’d be well worth arranging your dates for your San Francisco holiday to take advantage of this experience.
For more information on the California Academy of Sciences, check out their website at https://www.calacademy.org/