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“Really nice place to spend a few hours”

California Academy of Sciences
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Viator Exclusive: California Academy of Sciences Early-Access Admission
Ranked #14 of 529 things to do in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum. Come nose-to-beak with penguins and parrots, watch sharks and sting rays cruise beneath your feet, and feel the spray of the California coast. Fly to Mars (and beyond the Milky Way!) from the safety of your planetarium seat, take a virtual safari in African Hall, or climb into the canopy of a living rainforest. Face your fears—and an albino alligator—inside the Swamp, and meet scientists as they return from research expeditions around the world. From the depths of a Philippine coral reef to the outer reaches of the Universe, it's all inside the California Academy of Sciences.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Level Contributor
58 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“Really nice place to spend a few hours”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 15, 2011

I enjoyed my time at this museum. The planetarium was very comfortable, maybe too comfortable. The show could be better. The rainforest exhibit was beautiful. Beware it is hot and humid. The aquarium was well done, the layout was hard to follow so I had to keep circling back. I wish there was some staff or volunteers up on the roof. It would be nice to have someone there to talk about it and the building as a whole.

If you can't find a free parking place on the road, you will pay $14.

I would highly recommend this museum.

Visited September 2011
Thank lbfreder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Level Contributor
73 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Stimulating, well-presented, world-class - whatever your age”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2011

It's hard to be too effusive about the CalAcademy (@calacademy on Twitter - they also have a nice iPhone app).

This was my second visit - but this time accompanied by a 5 and 7 year-old. And it was just as fun, stimulating and engaging. The exhibits strike the right balance between being informative, educational, exciting, not too long (in textual information), varied in the presentation, and yet successfully avoid the trap of descending into the banality that seems to have crept of the Discovery Channel in recent years.

Being a non US-citizen, it was also nice to see such an institution fighting back the clouds of ignorance and science-denial that seems - at least to this observer - that seem to be encroaching over the cultural leadership the USA once proclaimed.

I still find it hard to draw myself away from the massive underwater viewing portal onto the Philippines coral reef exhibit; the kids too.

Yes, it's pricey, but instead of buying our tickets in advance, we took advantage of the $3 per ticket discount for taking Muni. Which paid for our travel out, and seemed in keeping with the institutions thrust to be, and promote, sustainability.

In SanFran a day or so - ideally a non-weekend, school holiday? You'd be mad not to go.

Visited October 2011
Thank Donald C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
170 reviews
57 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
“Fun but expensive”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2011

A rainy day in San Francisco, so we headed for the Academy of Sciences. First of all, I think it's very expensive.
We first picked up our tickets for the planetarium, which had comfy seats but the show was really boring. I suppose it depends on the day, but I seriously fell asleep and missed about 10 minutes.
The aquarium is nice and big, and we also liked the pinguins. We loved the rainforest and the natural history part! The sustainable roof is cool to see, but I think they could provide some more info / interesting facts about it.
Overall, we had a good time but $60 was just way too much.

Visited August 2011
1 Thank PoisonedIvy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Louisville, Kentucky
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8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
“Neat place and worth a visit”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 12, 2011

We spent several hours here and still did not see it all but ran out of energy! It was very neat though and my kids loved it. It is pricey so you want to have some time to see it all. We tried to have lunch in the cafeteria and there was nothing my kids would remotely eat (they are kind of picky but have never had such an issue before) so for other kids who like kid food and not adult food, you may want to avoid having a meal here (also no sodas with any caffeine for sale!). It is a great value because it is a planetarium, science musuem, and aquarium all rolled into one! The only reason this gets 4 and not 5 is because I think it is a little pricey but worth it if you have the time to spend.

Visited October 2011
Thank Libbygray
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
56 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Great, but not exceptional”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 8, 2011

We took our 6 and 7 year olds to the Academy of Sciences on Monday October 3rd, 2011 with mixed results. We are absolute science and nature junkies and have visited natural history museums, aquariums, and zoos around the world The Academy of Sciences is tops in some areas, but falls a bit short on others. Overall, I would still recommend a visit.

We got to the museum when it opened and there were no lines and it never did get crowded. We used our Citypass tickets, which did not include entrance to the planetarium. The African exhibit was extremely lifelike and had a good mix of ‘stuffed’ exhibits as well as live exhibits, all very professionally done. The penguin exhibit and feeding are nice and on par with most major zoos and aquariums. The aquarium exhibits are some of the best we’ve ever visited and were by far the best part of the museum. They cover a wide variety of oceanic life and the layout and presentation are just spectacular. The tropical rainforest however was a disappointment for such a fantastic facility. There wasn’t much flora diversity, and the fauna focused mainly on butterflies and smaller caged reptiles and amphibians. If you want to see a rainforest try the Dallas World Aquarium; for butterflies go to a dedicated butterfly exhibit. The climate change exhibit is a bit preachy and hypocritical (not that small children really notice though).
If you are local to the area, access to the research library and other resources would be worth the price of membership alone!
One more tip – the deYoung is right across the street, and closed on Mondays…

Visited October 2011
1 Thank jmtrup
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CalAcademyofSciences, Manager at California Academy of Sciences, responded to this review, November 9, 2011
Dear jmtrup: Thanks so much for taking the time to post your review of the Academy on TripAdvisor. Our General Admission tickets (via CityPass or separate purchase) are all-inclusive, so do include access to the Planetarium as well. Visitors can pick up free Planetarium passes in front of the Planetarium entrance to reserve their seats - apologies if there was any confusion around that. We're happy to hear that you enjoyed African Hall, the penguin feeding, and our aquarium exhibits. We appreciate the feedback on your experience and visitor tips you provided.

Amie Wong
Social Media Manager
California Academy of Sciences
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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