The California Academy of Science in San Francisco is no ordinary natural history or science museum. While it takes a look into the history of our planet with creative and interactive displays it goes way beyond the usual dinosaur and human skeletal figures.
As you walk into the building, you can’t help noticing the 4 story glass dome. A 90 feet neo-tropical rain-forest with more than 1600 different plants and animals including birds, butterflies, poisonous frogs, insects and an Amazonian Tree Boa. Nature and plants extend beyond the rain-forest and onto the green living roof of the Academy where millions of plants grow.
Heading to an underwater kaleidoscope of colors, the Aquarium is home to another 40,000 animals. Within minutes the diverse exhibits takes you from the Californian coast to the rays swimming in the Philippine Coral Reef, to the adorable African Penguin enclosure where a live feeding session happens twice a day. Apart from a wide range of reptiles, amphibians and arachnids in The Swamp you can visit Claude, the Albino Alligator, a popular stop at the Academy.
Open between 9:30am and 5, at $35 the entrance fee is rather steep, so you should allocate at least 3 hours to make the most of your admission. Included in the price is a 15 minute movie at the 75 foot planetarium, a dome like cinema which takes you on an immersive journey into the universe. However, do allow more time for this activity as the queuing, settling in and walking out is a slow process, but it is still one of the highlights.
The academy is a very family oriented museum, so naturally children screaming, running about and knocking against every glass exhibit is the rule of the day and it can get slightly annoying. This is probably why the Academy offers adults only NightLife tours every Thursday night.
In conclusion even if Science is not your main interest, the academy provides a much wider offering, with thousands of animals and vegetation, interactive exhibits and a planetarium. So regardless of the ticket price, the Academy is still worth a visit.