California Academy of Sciences
Location: 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30-5p.m. Sunday 11a.m.-5p.m.
Description: California Academy of Sciences is a must-see place located in Golden Gate Park. But it's sort of like the Disneyland of museums in the Bay Area and the price reflects that! It costs $35 per adult and $24 for your child under 11. That's $100 or more per family unit- yikes! So needless to say be prepared to spend the coins when you get there. Once you are in you can have hours of amazement but it's definitely a bigger commitment then your weekend outing to the park. If you plan to visit more than once a year you may want to consider purchasing a family pass. We got a family membership one year for Christmas. We really utilized it and visited about 7 times throughout the year with different configurations of family members. That being said after you get over the sticker shock you can enjoy hours of walking around discovering new sights to see. My daughter's favorite area is the aquarium down below. With towering tanks and brightly colored fish it is a sight to behold! If you are lucky you can catch a show in the Philippine's coral reef tank. We got to see a scuba diver feeding the fish broccoli and then he stopped to talk to the audience and answer questions from behind the glass. Children will go gaga trying to catch a glimpse of "Nemo" and "Dory" fish. They will also be entranced by all the jellyfish, pikes, the anaconda, and seahorses. Upstairs there is a fun earthquake exhibit, a planetarium, a living roof, and a hall of stuffed animals (not my favorite, I prefer live ones). But in that hall are very real and alive penguins which are fun to watch feeding. A roaming exhibit is always on display and changes with the seasons. My daughter's other favorite attraction is walking up the inclined dome in the rain forest. It is humid in there but it is exciting to catch a glimpse of macaws, butterflies, and all the insects roaming around. Academy of Sciences has a cafeteria style eating facility with exceptionally good food for this sort of place, but like with everything else there it is a little over priced. The great thing is that it is located in the middle of Golden Gate Park so as long as you have a parking space take a walk around and enjoy some of Golden Gates other sites while you're at it.
Highlights: The aquarium feels like a deep sea adventure. Even my 7 month old was enchanted by it all. The albino alligator is an icon of the academy.
Tips: We found street parking, even though the walk took up some energy, saving money where you can on this outing was worth it to me! Get there early so you can get your money's worth. And wear good walking shoes- because you will be putting miles on your feet!