Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (2023)

The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) is "an aquarium, rainforest, planetarium, and natural history museum--all under one living roof." The building itself is a modern marvel with its 2.5 acre 'living roof' comprised entirely of native plants, grasses, and shrubs. As a bonus, its LEED-certified design makes it the world's greenest museum. Check out our helpful guide for visiting the California Academy of Sciences, packed full of tips for visiting, ways to save on admission, other nearby attractions, and much more.

Looking for California Academy of Sciences Tickets?

We’ve got you covered –California Academy of Sciencesadmissionis available with the below money saving options, so you can choose the attraction pass that’s right for you: 1.All-Inclusive Pass– All you can do. Includes admission to dozens of attractions. 2.Explorer Pass– Choose as you go. Includes admission of up to 5 attractions. 3.Build Your Own Pass– Select theattractions you want to visit prior to visiting. See all available passes, attractions & prices –Learn more.

Tips for Visiting theCalifornia Academy of Sciences

Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (1) Image credit: California Academy of Sciences

  • Get to the Academy early to get a timed ticket tothe Planetarium Show and beat the largest crowds.
  • Download the freeAcademy Insider App for iPhone to enhance your visit. This app contains exhibit info, self-guided tours, a live daily programs feed, museum maps, and more.
  • Outside food and beverages are welcome in the Academy and can be consumed at designated areas in the museum in the indoor Piazza and outdoor eating area. Water fountains are located on level 1 next to the elevators.
  • Dress in layers. The rainforest exhibit is hot and humid so you'll appreciate being able to lighten up a bit when you're exploring.
  • Tips for visiting with a family:
    • Strollers are not available for rent at the Academy, but they are allowed in the museum (with the exception of the Shake House exhibit). Elevators are located next to the Academy Café and the Swamp.
    • Changing tables are available in all restrooms on the museum floor and a family restroom next to the swamp
  • Check the calendar of events online to see if you can coordinate yourvisit with anyfun upcoming events. They often have special events around the holidays, for example, so keep an eye out if you're visiting in the fall or winter.
  • Planning a class field trip? Check out the Academy's grade-specific Free Educator Guides.

What to Do There

The Academy is home to lots of fun, fascinating, and informative exhibits. In fact, it's the only place in the world where you can explore an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum all under one roof. A fewexhibit highlights include:

NEW! Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs

Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (2) Image credit: California Academy of Sciences

(Video) San Francisco Things To Do: California Academy of Sciences - Worth It?

This exciting new exhibit is one for the dinosaur lovers of all ages. It has a specific focus on the Mesozoic era and the fascinating pterosaurs that roamed the skies. Featuring a sample of the 150 different different species of flying dinosaur, it's also an amazing collection of newly-discovered fossils and realistic dioramas. The fossils are a particular highlight of this exhibit. Because pterosaurs were much lighter than other dinosaurs, their bodies have been less successfully preserved over the millennia. Fortunately, this exhibit features fossils from a still-unknown species of giant pterosaur and the first known fossilized pterosaur egg!

Tusher African Hall

Play the livestream above for a sneak peek at the African Hall's most popular exhibit--a colony of African penguins. In addition to the playful penguins, the African Hall explores other African wildlife and the evolution of the human species with immersive dioramas portraying scenes from 7 million years ago to today. Insider tip:Visit this exhibit around 10:30 am or 3:00 pm to catch the penguins' daily feeding and an informative presentation and feel free to ask the knowledgeable trainers questions.

Color of Life

Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (3) Image credit: Kathryn Whitney, California Academy of Sciences

Learn about the different roles that color plays among different species of the live animals and environments in this exhibit. You'll be able to explore how color affects animal behavior, how it's used for communication, attraction, choosing a mate, camouflaging, and more to help species survive and thrive.

Whales: Giants of the Deep

Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (4) Image © Brandon Cole

(Video) San Francisco - California Academy of Sciences (TRAVEL GUIDE) | Episode# 11

Check out the massive collection of whale skeletons in the immersive and informative whale exhibit. You'll find out the functions they serve in the ocean food chain, what threatens difference species' well being, and the work that Academy scientists are doing to help protect these large animals.

Morrison Planetarium

The Academy's 75-foot dome is a way to experience the cosmos like never before on one of the most accurate and immersive digital universes. Shows at the Planetarium explore a range of topics, including traditional star shows and special films, live broadcasts from Academy scientists in the field, or films that explore the fragile ecosystems of the planet Earth. Insider tip:As soon as youarrive at the Academy, be sure to stop by the Planetarium kiosk when you arrive to receive your timed ticket for a show. What to expect: the dome itself mimics the tilt of planet Earth and the frame of the dome supports a NanoSeam projection screen which portrays a seamless picture for a true-to-life view. Visitors have described asensation of flying when watching a presentation in the Morrison Planetarium.

Kimball Natural History Museum

Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (6) Image credit: California Academy of Sciences

(Video) California Academy of Sciences San Francisco - Planetarium, Aquarium, Rainforest, shark- Museum tour

Experience what it feels like to be caught San Francisco's two biggest earthquakes, a 6.9 and 7.9-magnitude, from insideThe Shake House, a Victorian-era "Painted Lady" house. Next, explore what's under the Earth's surface in the walk-through replica that illustrates the forces and phenomena that drive the movement of tectonic plates.

Osher Rainforest

Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (7) Image credit: Chris Picon

Housed within an impressive, 90-foot diameter glass dome, thisfour-story neotropical rainforest is the largest of its kind in the world. With temperatures of 82-85 degrees and humidity at 75% and above, you'll feel like you've been transported to an actual rainforest. The dome contains three levels of rainforest from three distinct ecosystems: a Bornean forest floor, a Madagascan mid-story, and the canopy of a Costa Rican forest. In addition to diverse plant life, the rainforest is home to over 1,600 animals, including 250 free-flying birds and butterflies and almost 100 exotic reptiles and amphibians.

Steinhart Aquarium

Get an amazing underwater view of aquatic life. TheSteinhart Aquarium is one of the most biologically diverse and interactive aquariums in the world with nearly 40,000 animals and 900 unique species. Be sure to check out the Philippine Coral Reef, a 25-foot deep tank featuring a large,live coral ecosystem. You'll see colorful fish native of the coral reefs and mangroves of the Philippines, one of the most diverse reef ecosystems in the world. Insider tip:Head to the lower level of this exhibit at 11:30 am or 2:30 pm to catch the daily Coral Reef Dive. A diver will plunge in the tank and answer any reef-related questions.

(Video) #TeenScienceNight 2020 | California Academy of Sciences

Living Roof

Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (9) Image credit: Tim Griffith

Learn about the power of green on the iconic "Living Roof" of the California Academy of Sciences. The roof consists entirely of California native grasses, shrubs, and plants that make an inviting home for many local wildlife, including birds, insects, butterflies, people, and more.

The Swamp

Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (10) Image credit: Kathryn Whitney, California Academy of Sciences

Meet an albino alligator known as Claude, colorful freshwater fish, reptiles, arachnids, and alligator snapping turtles that live in the Swamp. Go to the lower level of this exhibit for an underwater eye-to-eye view of Claude and more of the Swamp's other wildlife. You'll learn all about Claude's albinism and life in American swamps for alligators, how the alligator snapping turtles have strategically evolved to entice prey, and more. Insider tip: Gather beneath the moss-draped bald cypress to catch a presentation about the life of the American alligator, 3:30 pm daily.

Things to Do Nearby

The California Academy of Sciences is located in Golden Gate Park, the largest park in the country. Make a day of exploring the park and all the attractions inside by checking off all of the top things to do in Golden Gate Park:

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  • Picnic in the park. Find a comfortable spot to park yourself for a mid-afternoon break and take in your surroundings.
  • Explore all things art at the world-class de Young Museum, located right across the way from the CAS and stop by the Japanese Tea Garden and San Francisco Botanical Garden nearby, too.
  • Take a stroll through the Conservatory of Flowers for an up close look at the seasonal blossoms.
  • Rent a bike for the day and use it to make the most of your time at the park by biking around to each attraction and getting to know the trails (the CAS even has a camera security area to lock bikes).
  • Check out the Dutch wind mills near Ocean Beach on the westernmost side of the park.
  • Let the kids run around and get out any extra energy at the Koret Children's Quarter Playground on the easternmost side of the park.

Check out our San Francisco neighborhoods guide and plan to visit attractions by area to get the most out of your trip. We also have a guide for getting around San Francisco to help plan, too.

Places to Eat Nearby

If you're planning to spend the day at the California Academy of Sciences and Golden Gate Park, there are a couple of dining options nearby, including: Academy Café- Head to the Academy Café for an indoor-outdoor setting and family-friendly fare with a menu that highlights local, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients year-round. Their menu is a great way to experience the food cultures of California regions and San Francisco. The Terrace- Admission to the Academy gets you access to The Terrace, a farm-to-table dining experience with easy, fast-casual service. Located in the Academy's West Garden, you can dine amidst sculptures by artist Maya Lin and enjoy the weather and beautiful views. Insider tip: Happy Hour is daily from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm, buy a glass of wine or beer and get a second free. de Young Café- Located in the de Young Museum, the de Young Café features a variety of American and European classic dining options for morning, mid-day, and afternoon. Pack a picnic- One of the best ways to experience the Golden Gate Park like a local is to pack a picnic lunch and dine al fresco. There are lots of grassy areas, benches, and inviting places to pull up a blade of grass and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Save onAdmission

No trip toSan Francisco is complete without experiencing the California Academy of Sciences. Save up to 55% withtheGo San Francisco® Card All-Inclusive Pass or San Francisco Explorer Pass®, depending on the pass you choose, on combined admission to the Academyand other top museums, tours, cruises, and activities. Pay nothing at the gate. Or, Build Your Own Passandsave 20%guaranteedwhen you buy two or more attractions together. Visiting the California Academy of Sciences - Admission, Tips & More (11)


Is the California Academy of Sciences worth it? ›

Yes, it's definitely worth a visit, in spite of all my comments above! On a quiet day, it's a treat; you can wander through the Aquarium and Rainforest in peace and really appreciate all the exhibits. More info on what to see at the California Academy of Sciences. Earthquakes, butterflies and jellyfish.

How much time do you need at the California Academy of Sciences? ›

How long does it take to go through the California Academy of Sciences? If you're in a hurry, a quick tour around the museum takes approximately two hours. However, I recommend giving yourself 3-4 hours to fully experience the attractions and all there is to see.

How long do people spend at the Academy of Science? ›

All Academy guests will need to reserve timed-entry tickets in advance. There is no time limit for your visit, but the average guest spends approximately three hours exploring the Academy. Walkup ticket sales are not available at this time.

What days can you visit the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco for free? ›

Free Museum Admission Days in San Francisco 2022 & 2023
  • Asian Art Museum: First Sunday of every month (sponsored by Target)
  • California Academy of Sciences: Select Sundays throughout the year thanks to Pacific Gas & Electric Company (on hold due to capacity limitations)

How long is the planetarium show at California Academy of Sciences? ›

Visit Hohfeld Hall

Hohfeld Hall is a great place to introduce your under-4s to the wonders of the cosmos. Join us on the first floor of the planetarium for Landscape of the Solar System, a live, family-friendly, 15-minute program—now playing daily!

How much is a ticket to the California Academy of Sciences? ›

Do you need reservation for California Academy of Sciences? ›

Visitors are encouraged (but not required) to reserve timed tickets for entry. See Academy tickets to book or more info. Save $3-5 by buying tickets at least 3 days in advance.

Can you bring water to California Academy of Sciences? ›

You are welcome to bring your own food and drink, but we ask that you enjoy it outdoors in the East Garden. Water-bottle-filling stations are located on Level 1, next to the elevators. The rainforest is suitable for all ages, but because it is a hot, humid, and one-way exhibit, we recommend dressing in layers.

How long does it take to go through the academy? ›

It usually takes about 13 to 19 weeks on average but can last up to six months. Note that it is possible to complete the Police Academy prior to applying for a police officer.

How long is the science museum tour? ›

You are welcome to explore the museum for as long as you would like, but an average visit takes around two hours.

How prestigious is the National Academy of Sciences? ›

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is regarded as the most prestigious honorary scientific society in the country.

Is the Academy of Sciences free for SF residents? ›

San Francisco residents can get free admission to the California Academy of Sciences during one weekend every year. The date of each free weekend depends on which neighborhood you live in.

How much is parking at California Academy of Sciences? ›

How much is parking at the California Academy of Sciences? The Music Concourse Garage will cost you $5.25/hour on weekdays up to 5:30 p.m, and $6.25/hour on weekends and weekday evenings (after 5:30 p.m). Daily parking rates can go up to $29 on weekdays and $33 on weekends.

Do you have to buy tickets in advance for Academy Museum? ›

Timed entry to the Academy Museum must be reserved online in advance. General admission tickets grant access to the museum's galler​ies. The Oscars® Experience requires a special ticket, as do programs and screenings. A ticket is not required to visit the Academy Museum Store or Fanny's restaurant and café.

What is free at California Science Center? ›

Free Entry

Our permanent galleries, including space shuttle Endeavour, are FREE and do not require a reservation. Explore your curiosity.

Is Hayden planetarium worth it? ›

"The Hayden Planetarium is a must-see place for astronomy lovers. The pavilion is very large, popularizing astronomical knowledge and the process of human cognition of astronomy. It is worth seeing."

Do you have to unlock planetariums? ›

The Planetarium is a new unlock-able room type introduced in Antibirth that has a small chance to appear after certain criteria are met. Like Treasure Rooms, they require a key to enter. Planetariums are unlocked by possessing three astrology-related items simultaneously.

How much is the Academy museum? ›

Tickets (which include admission to all exhibitions) cost $25 for adults, $19 for seniors (62 and up), $15 for students, and are free for visitors 17 and younger and CA residents with an EBT card. An immersive installation dubbed the Oscars Experience costs an additional $15.

Are cameras allowed in California Academy of Sciences? ›

All projects must complete and submit the Commercial Photography and Filming Inquiry Form. The Academy reserves the right to grant or deny permission to shoot, in its sole and absolute discretion, and to determine the terms under which shooting will be permitted.

Is California Academy of Sciences for adults? ›

With nearly 40,000 live animals, two new exhibits, the iconic Shake House and four-story Rainforest, and outdoor dining beneath the stars the night is sure to be wild. For adults 21+. Can't attend in person?

How much are tickets to the Exploratorium? ›

Are there penguins at the California Academy of Sciences? ›

The Academy's colony of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) does just that, while helping educate thousands of visitors a day about their fascinating biology and plight in the wild. Each bird in the exhibit wears a colorful wing band, which helps Academy staff and visitors quickly distinguish one bird from another.

How much are tickets to the Steinhart Aquarium? ›

California Academy of Sciences With Steinhart Aquarium Admission San Francisco Tickets - $31.79 - $40.75 at California Academy of Sciences. 2022-12-31. Washington, D.C.

What is inside California Academy of Sciences? ›

It holds three: the Kimball Natural History Museum, Steinhart Aquarium, and Morrison Planetarium. Together they make up the West's oldest scientific institution and a vast storehouse for Mother Nature's superlatives—like the skeletons of an 87-foot-long blue whale and a 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Is California Academy of Sciences good for toddlers? ›

Cal Academy of Sciences is a fabulous place to take your three-year-old. They will be entertained, inspired, and eventually tuckered out.

How big is the California Academy of Sciences? ›

Rocking the foundations

Topping the Academy's 410,000 square feet of exhibit, office and administrative space is a 2.5-acre green roof with 1.7 million native California plants.

What happens if you get kicked out of the Academy? ›

Expulsion from the Academy would mean a permanent disinvitation from all future Academy events, including the Oscars, a stripping of the ability to vote in the Academy Awards, and permanent ineligibility to win future Academy Awards.

What can I expect at CDCR Academy? ›

You will learn about current departmental policies and procedures. You will also learn positive communication skills so you can communicate clearly and effectively in a correctional environment. These skills are instrumental in preparing you for future opportunities with the CDCR.

Can you quit the Academy? ›

When one voluntarily resigns from the Academy, they are no longer voting members. However, they are still eligible for future nominations and invitations to Academy ceremonies. Few members have actually resigned from the Academy, yet the action is not entirely unfounded.

Can you just turn up at the Science Museum? ›

Yes. You need to book free general admission tickets to the museum as well as a separate ticket for exhibitions or experiences. When choosing your timeslot, we advise visitors to allow enough time to reach the exhibition or experience after you enter the museum.

What age is the Science Museum suitable for? ›

An exciting interactive space, created especially for children aged 3–6 and their parents and carers. Inquisitive children can explore the main areas—construction, water, light and sound. While playing, they can find out about floating and sinking, shadows and reflections, and much more.

What is better natural history or science museum? ›

Natural History Museum and Science Museum are both endorsed by expert writers. On balance, Natural History Museum scores slightly higher than Science Museum. Natural History Museum comes in at 95 with recommendations from 13 sources including Travel + Leisure, Time Out and Fodor's.

What is the hardest INT school? ›

1. Harvard University — 3.19% With a record-low admission rate of just 3.19% for the class of 2026, Harvard currently ranks as the most difficult school to get into. This rate reflects admission into Harvard College, the Ivy League university's undergraduate school.

Is IMG good academically? ›

Academically, the school is better than most people realize and is getting better every year. They offer honors classes and 14 AP courses in all the core subjects and regularly send kids to Ivies and top academic colleges.

Is IMG a good college? ›

IMG's prestigious history combines elite athletic accomplishments with unparalleled college placement, creating an overall campus environment that's both supportive yet challenging for grades 6-12 and post-graduate students.

How much is the admission to the Legion of Honor? ›

What day is SF Zoo free? ›

The San Francisco Zoo, Northern California's largest zoological park and conservation center, offers free admission the first Wednesday every month. This urban oasis, nestled against the Pacific Ocean, provides a comfortable climate all year round.

Is the Exploratorium fun for adults? ›

A great experience for children and adults. An incredible experience for children and adults into the science of chemistry, physics, and the world around us. The exhibits explain complex information with hands-on experiences and active learning.

How long do people spend at California Academy of Sciences? ›

All Academy guests will need to reserve timed-entry tickets in advance. There is no time limit for your visit, but the average guest spends approximately three hours exploring the Academy.

How long should I spend in California Science Center? ›

Allow 3 to 4 hours after you get inside - longer if you're geeky curious or if you want to see an IMAX film or a special California Science Center exhibit. You can take pictures of the Space Shuttle for personal use, but leave food, drink and large bags outside.

Can you bring snacks to California Science Center? ›

The Science Center permits guests to bring their own food and enjoy eating outside or inside. However, the on-site dining options include the Trimana Grill, Market, and Coffee Bar.

How much is parking for Academy Museum? ›

Getting to the Museum

The Academy Museum is accessible by METRO and LADOT TRANSIT. The Purple Line Wilshire/Fairfax Metro train station is scheduled to open in 2024. *Valet drop-off is on Roddenberry Lane, located at the museum's Fairfax Avenue entrance. The rate is $21; $15 with museum validation.

How long is the Academy Museum tour? ›

Guided tours at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

All you have to do is download the Academy Museum app, grab a pair of headphones, and carve out the recommended two hours to tour the museum according to the audio guide.

Is the Academy Museum worth visiting? ›

Very much enjoyed the museum and the exhibits on offer (original costumes and information) and especially enjoyed the Wizard of Oz section. Interesting to read about the history of the Academy Awards and see how it started to where it is now.

Is California Science Center parking free? ›

What does the California Science Center parking cost? The California Science Center parking lot charges $15 per car until 5:00 pm and $18 after that. The closest metered parking spots cost $1 per hour for up to 2 – 4 hours, while off-site parking garage rates in the neighborhood range from $2 an hour to $20 a day.

Do you have to make a reservation at the California Science Center? ›

Admission. Our permanent galleries, including Space Shuttle Endeavour are FREE and do not require a reservation.

What is the purpose of the National Academy of Sciences? ›

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology.

Can you bring food to Cal Academy of Sciences? ›

You are welcome to bring your own food and drink, but we ask that you enjoy it outdoors in the East Garden. Water-bottle-filling stations are located on Level 1, next to the elevators. The rainforest is suitable for all ages, but because it is a hot, humid, and one-way exhibit, we recommend dressing in layers.

Does California Academy of Sciences have parking? ›

Is there an on-site California Academy of Sciences parking lot? Yes, official public parking is available at The Music Concourse Garage inside the Golden Gate Park. The underground garage is less than a minute's walk away from the main entrance.

Can you visit the National Academy of science? ›

Current operating status is also available on our phone hotline, tel. 202-337-8566. Open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and closed weekends and holidays.

How do you get nominated to the National Academy of Sciences? ›

Although many names are suggested informally, a formal nomination can be submitted only by an Academy member. Each nomination includes a brief curriculum vitae plus a 250-word statement of the nominee's scientific accomplishments— the basis for election—and a list of not more than 12 publications.

How do you become a member of the National Academy of Sciences? ›

Becoming a Member

Consideration of a candidate begins with his or her nomination, followed by an extensive and careful vetting process that results in a final ballot at the Academy's annual meeting in April each year. Currently, a maximum of 120 members may be elected annually.

Can you bring water to California Science Center? ›

Tips for VIsiting the California Science Center

You can take pictures of the Space Shuttle for personal use, but leave food, drink and large bags outside.

Is there food at Cal Academy NightLife? ›

A variety of food options are available at NightLife from 6:00-9:30 pm, including The Academy Cafe and The Academy Cafe Food Cart located in the front lobby.

Is California Science free with EBT? ›

EBT/CalFresh/WIC/Medi-Cal Benefit: As part of the Museums for All cooperative, the Academy offers $3 Daytime Admission and NightLife (21+) tickets to EBT/CalFresh, WIC, Lifeline Pass, and Medi-Cal cardholders every day of the year.


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