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“Amazing place, unlike anything Ive seen before.”

California Academy of Sciences
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Viator Exclusive: California Academy of Sciences Early-Access Admission
Ranked #13 of 535 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
60 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Amazing place, unlike anything Ive seen before.”
Reviewed December 1, 2012

This place was amazing. I walked from hotel and got a $3 discount for alternative transport on top of a discounted ticket I got with my student ID (still $20). The rainforest is absolutely amazing. I loved looking at the critters along the walkway and reading the info provided. There are butterflies, birds, insects, amphibians, and other coldblooded animals - no mammals. I also caught a show at the planetarium about earthquakes. The aquarium had animals that I had never seen before including catfish that swim upside down. There was also an interesting area covering mating habits with interactive ipads. Baby ostriches and info on evolution were also amazing. Expensive but well worth it. Please visit!!

The only con was that the captions in the aquarium were electronic and instead of showing info on all 3 animals, the screen would only explain one at a time and if you wanted to read about all 3 animals you'd have to stay for a long time. And sometimes the screen would be stuck on page 2/3 the whole time. That was the most annoying part. The African exhibit was also a little lacking (except the penguins) because most of the animals were stuffed, no live lions or anything.

I would mark value at 5 because I personally don't mind paying to support such an amazing place, nature, and the sciences. But some might think it is too expensive.

Thank leilapalooza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
San Francisco, CA
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“So much to like! Where to begin!”
Reviewed December 1, 2012

We enjoyed all of the exhibits at the academy. I go often and never tire of it! I love to just sit in front of the tropical reef tank and watch the beautiful fish. Such a calming experience! This is most certainly my very favorite part of the Academy.

Visited November 2012
Thank cyclechick1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albany, CA
Level Contributor
19 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Amazing aquarium, incredible building, awesome rainforest experience, delicious food”
Reviewed November 30, 2012

I visit quarterly with my kids (6 and 11) and their friends. It is hard to see it all in one day, so we usually do about 1/2 of it. First question is always Rainforest or not? That biome is the most immersive experience of all. Where else can you do this?

Throughout the Academy there are wonderful interactive exhibit explanations that my older son loves to read and engage with, while my younger daughter (early reader) can just jump in and enjoy.

The aquarium tanks are so sculptural and inviting, exhibiting new wonders every time we visit. The iPad screens in the reproduction exhibit are great for getting info without having to read a big plaque. Touch & feel aquarium area is magical. Love the smaller spots like the garden eels where little kids can catch their breath and have their own space.

Tots play area was fun when my daughter was that age. Great place to take a break and just have fun but still be in the nature zone. Outdoor areas give kids much-needed room to run around and take a break. Retail stores are ever-popular with my kids, almost as much as the exhibits!

Academy Cafe is the source of all good things to eat, really fabulous food and everyone can get something they like. Getting a seat by the big fish tank while eating is a blast. Hard to find a seat on holidays and week-ends though.

Thanks for the earthquake exhibit: interesting and vital info for us locals!

Visited November 2012
Thank Constance22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed November 30, 2012

We have a 3 year old daughter and she LOVES coming to CAS. We love hanging out & playing in the early explorers cove, especially on rainy days, and walking around the aquarium checking out all the fishes. An extra bonus is getting there in time for the penguins getting fed.

Visited November 2012
Thank yohutch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Orleans
Level Contributor
101 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Entertaining Education”
Reviewed November 30, 2012

For anyone with an interest in science and natural history, this is a great museum. Start at the bottom with the excellent and very well presented aquarium and work your way up. The Rainforest is also very good, and the 3-D dinosaur movie is top quality. The earthquake experience is interesting but if the line is long, your time would better spent elsewhere. The planetarium is high quality, though the earthquake show was only average. Many other fascinating exhibits, enough to occupy most of a day if you really get into these things. Excellent cafeteria as well.

Visited November 2012
Thank keithgct
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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