As a regular visitor to science museums around the country and one who has been particularly spoiled by the quality of museums in my home city of Chicago, I was interested to learn whether the California Academy of Science would live up to my expectations. Traveling with my 18-year-old daughter as well as my niece and her two preschool-age girls meant that we were looking for a museum that would entertain and educate a wide span of age levels. That tall order was more than met by the CAoS. Exhibits here, while not as extensive as the those in the Field Museum (Chicago), did cover a variety of science topics, including animal life, human evolution, earth science, planetary science and ecosystems. Many exhibits are hands-on (always a hit with small children) and the explanatory notations are easy to read, yet informative. The exhibits our group enjoyed the most - and which I have not seen before - were the penguin feeding and the walk-through rain forest. The rain forest was exceptional in that you walk upward through a changing canopy amid hundreds of butterflies. Everyone of us was delighted to see these beautifully delicate creatures fearlessly land on our hands and shoulders. This experience alone was worth the price of admission (which for my daughter and I was included in our San Francisco City Pass). The museum's location in Golden Gate Park is a beautiful setting for a stroll before or after visiting the exhibits, and parking is conveniently adjacent the museum and not unreasonably priced (for those accustomed to big city parking rates.)
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