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“Fun and Knowledge for All Ages”

California Academy of Sciences
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California Academy of Sciences NightLife
Ranked #14 of 558 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 young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed September 14, 2013

I recently took my grand daughter to SF, and it was her choice to visit this "museum". We both had a great time. The movie, the biosphere and the earthquake house were all imformative and fun to experience. The living roof and aquariums were very impressive. Even the food was great in the cafeteria fresh and freshly made. Sorry we could not spend more time there.

Thank makoakani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 13, 2013

We bought VIP tickets for Night Life, which sounded like a lot of fun. The Academy itself was very impressive, and the atmosphere was fun, but there were some issues. First, we got there early (we are from out of town and took a taxi) and had to stand out in the sun for about 25 minutes. I asked the employee at the info. desk if I could get some water, and he refused to let me in, even though there was a table just inside the entrance with water. We finally got in, but no one told us where to go for the VIP cocktail reception/tour, and several people started walking the other direction. We found our tour guides and went up to the second floor, where they had free cocktails. Much to my disappointment, however, the only food available was sandwiches, which I cannot eat because I have a gluten allergy. I wanted to have something in my stomach since I was drinking wine, so I had to go down to the café. The manager in the café was helpful in finding something I could eat. The tour guides rushed us through the reception (it was supposed to be 45 minutes, but the ushered us out after 30 minutes). The tour was interesting, but the tour guide was a bit militant and had a lot of rules. Didn't fit with the relaxed vibe we felt later on, when we were on our own. When it came time to do the planetarium tour, no one knew where we should go for the VIP tickets, and they kept sending us back and forth. The fourth person we spoke to finally let us in, and the show was really interesting. The DJ was good. They were filming "The Real World" while we were there, and that was a bit distracting, especially when we were trying to get through the rainforest behind the cast (who were acting stupid) and their entourage. I'd like to go back on my own and spend more time some day.

Thank sharper126
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CalAcademyofSciences, Digital Marketing Manager at California Academy of Sciences, responded to this reviewResponded September 19, 2013

Dear sharper126: Thanks very much for sharing your feedback here on TripAdvisor. We're sorry to hear that your NightLife VIP tour experience did not meet your expectations and we would be interested in hearing more of your valuable feedback to help us improve the experience. If you'd like to speak to the manager of the program, please feel free to email us at info@calacademy.org or call us at (415) 379-8000. We appreciate your comments.

Many thanks,
Amie Wong

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 11, 2013

Huge a aquariums ( better than aquarium of the bay hands down), biosphere.. green roof, really cool displays and a planetarium.

Something for the whole family.

Thank Christopher M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2013

I don't have kids but I think this is very much a 'do with the kids' thing.

I went on my own for a few hours and I quite enjoyed the Academy. It's very similar to London's Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, but I also saw other things I've never seen before.

Stand-out for me were:
- Rainforest dome
- The dead fish in jars so you could see their bone structures
- Claude the albino alligator !
- The earthquake simulator

I expected the roof garden to be better

1  Thank Swarnes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 9, 2013

We were told on the tour bus that is was free admission on this particular day- she was wrong! It costs a lot of money to get in here, and it's not that brilliant.
Then they charge you 2 dollars for your bag or coat.....
The big highlight is the Rainforest right there in the middle of the building. We arrived fairly early, and there was already a line. This got a lot bigger after we had lunch. However, it was Saturday.

There is a very good selection of food. My daughter and I had mac and cheese (love this) and fried chicken which was so juicy and tasty. However, my husband opted for a pork taco, something he ordinarily would never go for, and it was horrible, greasy and cold. He also had the Vietnamese pork bun, this was better. Cost about 40 dollars for everything.
The Earthquake experience was good fun. The aquarium is also very good, lots of interesting fish.They have a curved glass ceiling so that you can walk through with the fish directly above you.
We didn't get to the living roof, because we decided to catch the tour bus back. It is very difficult to get to this museum on Public transport. As we still had hop on, hop off tickets that day, we opted for the easy option. Shelly was a unique guide, I have to say, as we headed up to the Park.
Wouldn't recommend this especially, as we all thought the admission price was eye-wateringly expensive. However I will concede it was our last day in San Francisco, after a really tiring road trip, the holiday of a lifetime in fact, and we were a tad jaded.
Children under 12 might fare better with this. And, stupidly, we missed the white Alligator!

2  Thank new_horizon1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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