The California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park, is a cutting-edge research and education institute with the mission “to explore, explain, and sustain life.” Set in a high-tech building designed by architect Renzo Piano, with a living roof, solar panels, and denim insulation, the museum is the greenest in the world.
The Steinhart Aquarium is the hub of the academy’s living collection, containing some 40,000 animals. You can see sharks and rays in the Philippine Coral Reef Gallery, and a giant octopus in the California Coast exhibit, which also has an interactive Discovery Tidepool. The Tusher African Hall is famous for its colony of penguins, and the Swamp Gallery for its albino alligator! In the four-story Rainforests of the World Gallery there are free-flying butterflies and birds along with anacondas, piranhas, and chameleons.
The academy contains many other exhibits on topics ranging from evolution to earthquakes, as well as the obligatory T-rex skeleton. There’s also the largest all-digital planetarium in the world, in which you can take an immersive tour of the universe and learn about recent discoveries in astronomy.
Special events take place each day (with adults-only nights on Thursdays) and there are various tours available. There’s a café and a fine-dining restaurant. Tickets cost $30–35 (toddlers go free) and the academy is open every day.
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Get Hands-On at the California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is Golden Gate Park’s shape-shifter. Home to an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a tropical rain forest—just to mention a few of its highlights—the Academy wears many hats with the goal of exploring and explaining life. Among its many exhibits are the Shake House, which simulates San Francisco’s two major earthquakes, and the Discovery Tidepool, which lets you touch sea creatures native to California’s coast. Those 21 and older can also attend NightLife on Thursday evenings. While each week is different, events may include DJ sets, drag performances, and lectures. Academy tickets are pricey ($34.95 for adults), but select Sundays are free. NightLife tickets cost $12.
From top to bottom, the California Academy of Sciences is a delight. Under the green roof of the Renzo Piano-designed building, visitors will find an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a rain forest. The museum boasts of housing 40,000 live animals—including an albino alligator.
A weekly event called NightLife at the Academy is a huge draw; on Thursdays from 6 to 10pm the museum turns into a pulsating nightclub. (Admission is 21+.)
If you find yourself in San Francisco on a Thursday evening and are looking for something different, call some friends and swing by the California Academy of Sciences for an evening of "music, creatures and cocktails". Every week on Thursdays they feature live bands or DJs and various events- meanwhile cocktail bars stand ready for your serving all throughout the museum. With drink in hand, Cruise through various exhibits, hang with the butterflies in the biodome or wander downstairs and gaze at all of the glorious sea creatures who appear to be swimming to the DJ's beats. $12 gets you in and if you get there early you can snag free tickets to the planetarium show. Check out the details at www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife/
Grab your friends and head to the Academy's NightLife every Thursday evening from 6-10pm. Tickets are half price on Thursday nights so it's a deal! Must be 21 or older. At NightLife you'll enjoy great music, amazing exhibits, weird creatures and plenty of cocktails. Each week features a live band or DJ, and a unique theme – from salsa dancing to sustainable seafood and beyond. Get there early to buy tickets at the door (limited number available) or purchase online. And don't miss the Planetarium show and rooftop! Lots of food choices at the Academy Café. Great way to learn something and have a fun time!
I really enjoyed going to this even though I did not bring any kids with me. There was a nice simulation of an Amazon rain forest with butterflies and birds flying around. Gotta love those blue morphos. The skeletons of early humans were incredible. Lots of things to take in if you are a science and nature lover.
On Thursday evenings, NightLife happens at the California Academy of Sciences.
This 21+ event includes music, cocktails, and a seemingly endless amount of exhibits to see.
My personal favorite was the four-story rainforest dome featuring birds, amphibians, and butterflies.
Some of these winged-beauties will even take a pit-stop on your person giving you some solid bonding time with nature.