California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and is the only place to house a planetarium, an aquarium, and a natural history museum simultaneously under one roof. The Academy conducts world-renowned scientific research programs and is recognized as one of the top educational institutions dedicated to exploration and environment sustainability.

The core mission of the Academy is to “explore, explain, and sustain life”. The dedicated staff and volunteers of the Academy are relentless in their efforts to pursue this mission, they do so through their “core values”. These values are: Leadership by Example, Connection with Guests, Education, Scientific Integrity, Respect, Community, and Fun. They strive to make scientific research and education accessible and entertaining for everyone in the community.

The Academy has some exciting premiere cooperate sponsors, such as Wells Fargo, Chase, and even Google. These top names, and many more, all aid the Academy in the very important goal of sustaining life on Earth.

Their building is a testament to the Academy's dedication to environmental sustainability – it is completely green. Designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, the building was opened in 2008 and has earned the U.S. Green Building Council's highest rating for eco-friendly designs and operations. In fact, the roof of the building is actually 2.5 acres of fresh, green park and is truly a sight to be seen. Photo: avmedved/Fotolia


»Exhibits and Attractions

Exhibits and Attractions


There are plenty of exhibits, tours, shows, attractions, special events, lectures, and workshops to explore at the California Academy of Sciences. There is also a world-class aquarium, a breath-taking planetarium, and even a natural history museum - All available in one great location!

There is always something new and exciting to explore at the California Academy of Sciences. First, the Big Picture, the annual natural world photography exhibit that celebrates the diversity of nature. This exhibit features award-winning photography from around the globe highlighting the glory and beauty of nature. It contains 48 pieces from more than 30 different countries.

The Steinhart Aquarium is one of the most diverse and interactive aquariums in the world. There are more than 40,000 live animals to see and even touch. The Morrison planetarium now has a new show that explores asteroids, comets, and theories behind our cosmic origins. It is a 75-foot, all-digital dome display that features incredibly accurate, educational, and exciting visuals for visitors of all ages.

The Kimball Natura History Museum is the final piece of the Academy's educational trifecta. This exhibit explores evolution and the future of life on Earth. The Osher Rainforest exhibit is a four-story replica of the dense, lush tropical rainforest. It is complete with vast wildlife from the densest tropical regions.

The Discovery Tidepool allows guests to interact with the animals who call the California tide pools home. All sorts of interesting animals can be found there, including turtles, starfish, and fish. The Early Explorers Cave is the perfect place for the young budding scientist or explorer. There is plenty of play area, a reading room, and even activities to both educate and entertain.

There are endless exhibits to explore at the Academy – experience the journey through an earthquake, pay a visit to alligators and snapping turtles at the swamp, learn about the evolution of humans through the human odyssey exhibit, and explore the day-to-day scientific research of the Academy at Project Lab.

Visitors of all ages and interests will find something to enjoy at the Academy. Be sure to check out the calendar to see what new and exciting exhibits are featured. Things to Do in in San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences - Photo: Antonio Fernandez/Fotolia

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»Conservation Programs

Conservation Programs


The California Academy of Sciences is very proud of its sustainability and research programs. The Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability calls the Academy home and has more than 100 top scientists working at state-of-the-art-facilities attempting to understand nature and sustainability on Earth. There are more than 46 million scientific specimens housed at their facility, making it one of the largest and most diverse collections in the world.

This program seeks to understand the evolution and interconnectedness of different ecosystems around the world, hoping that this knowledge will allow them to understand threats that may harm them.

The Academy prides itself on its community engagement programs and initiatives to inspire future scientists around the globe. Educators host workshops, lectures, and even class field trips in order to increase scientific literacy and inform the next generation about the issues that will shape our future.

There are also all sorts of new environmental sustainability initiatives being launched at the Academy, including threatened ecosystems like coral reefs and tropical rainforests. These efforts had led to valuable breakthroughs in the field of preservation. Things to Do in in San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences - Photo: avmedved/Fotolia

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»Planning your Visit

Planning your Visit


The California Academy of Sciences has a wonderful variety of featured exhibits and special programs for visitors to enjoy. There is the Morrison planetarium, the Steinhart aquarium, the Kimball Natural History Museum, and many more featured year-round exhibits.

There are plenty of exciting and entertaining options for the kids and is very accessible to those with disabilities. Programs are available for visitors of all ages, including behind-the-scenes tours, an adult nightlife complete with live music and cocktails, a penguins and pajamas sleepover for the whole family, and even lectures and workshops. All of this and more is waiting to be experienced at the California Academy of Sciences, for more information, visit their full event calendar.

There are a variety of tours offered, including up-close-and-personal and behind-the-scenes access to the Academy's exhibits, live animals, and scientific research.

The activities offered at the Academy are just the start, the surrounding Bay area is a bustling metropolis of fine dining, world-class shopping, and exciting cultural hotspots. Most restaurants nearby use only locally-sourced, fresh ingredients in their scrumptious dishes. The Academy's retail shop provides distinct, educational, and memorable items for purchase so all visitors can have a memento of their unforgettable trip. The Academy also offers tips for nearby lodging and even offers discounts at some of the most relaxing and comfortable hotels.

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Golden Gate Park, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, Phone: 415-379-8000 Things to Do in in San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences - Photo: Lynn Yeh/Fotolia

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Things to Do in in San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences