Top 20 San Francisco attractions

California Academy of Sciences

10 best things to do at California Academy of Sciences

The spectacular California Academy of Sciences is in Golden Gate Park, and has two 90-foot glass domes that house a planetarium and rainforest. There’s also a massive aquarium in the basement, and a meadow with observation deck on the living roof.

Check out cool attractions, like Claude the Albino alligator, the Earthquake Simulator Room, and Fog Room that replicates the conditions of a rainforest.

California Academy of Sciences San Francisco

Here's the 10 best things to do at California Academy of Sciences:

1. Stand in a rainforest canopy:  Step inside the glass dome on the main floor to the Osher Rainforest, and walk four stories up a spiraling staircase from the understory to the lush canopy.  See amphibians, butterflies, reptiles and bugs in this fully immersive experience.  At 82-85 degrees it gets very warm inside.

2. Check out a massive basement aquarium with a flooded rainforest:  Take the elevator to descend four stories to the Steinhart Aquarium in the basement, and walk through a tunnel beneath the Amazon flooded rainforest. See catfish and arapaima swimming above you. You can also take a seat at the amphitheater at the Philippine Coral Reef, or sit behind a huge glass wall and watch divers interacting with tropical fish, green sea turtles and eels while answering questions.  Next, take the kids to the touch-pools with crabs, starfish and abalone.

3. See the world's largest digital planetarium: Head back to the main floor, to the world’s largest digital planetarium.  Watch the “Passport to the Universe Show” narrated by Tom Hanks on a 75-foot diameter screen at the Morrison Planetarium.

4. Say hello to an albino alligator: Go to the south end of the main floor and observe Claude the Albino alligator in The Swamp exhibition. 

5. Experience a thrill at the Earthquake Simulator Room:  This room re-enacts the 1906 and 1989 San Francisco earthquakes. 

6. Step inside a fog room:  The Kimball Natural History Museum also has a Fog Room creating the conditions of a moist northern Californian rainforest.

7. See fun penguin feedings: Go to the north end of the main floor at the California Academy of Sciences, to gaze in awe at realistic dioramas of African wildlife, featuring zebras, lions, tigers and antelope.  The African Penguin Enclosure is at the end of the hall, where feedings are done twice daily.

8. See a spectacular living roof: Take the elevator all the way to the Living Roof, and gaze out at the 2.5 acre meadow on the rooftop with seven mounds replicating the seven hills of San Francisco.  Natural air is circulated through the building each night by opening the skylights at the top of the two glass domes on the roof, keeping energy costs way down.

9. Keep toddlers entertained: Go to the Curiosity Grove Play area on the main floor.

10. Go to a restaurant:  Eat at the Academy Cafe or Terrace Restaurant at the California Academy of Sciences.

California Academy of Sciences San Francisco CA

California Academy of Sciences - BEST things to do

Know before you go

  • Address for California Academy of Sciences:  55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118.
  • Hours & Admission: here
  • Food:  restaurant & cafe.
  • Parking:  Along JFK Drive, or Martin Luther King Jr Drive.
  • Adults only cocktail nights: here

Other things to do at the Golden Gate Park

There are so many other things to do at the Golden Gate Park, including the Japanese Tea Garden, De Young Museum, and San Francisco Botanic Garden. 

More Museums in San Francisco

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