We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“This is what our 8 year old had been waiting for. ”

California Academy of Sciences
Book In Advance
More Info
USD 35.95*
and up
California Academy of Sciences General Admission...
Ranked #42 of 668 things to do in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 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 6 April 2018 via mobile

Our 8 year old is Autistic and obsessed with dinosaurs and all things science he was so excited going round he loved it and the learning centre upstairs as well. The aquarium in the basement was truly awesome the only sore point was the planetarium had time slots and because we had a baby with us as well we couldn’t fit it in due to feeding time. But for for everything else this was amazing we all had a great experience.

Thank James S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (5,437)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
  • More languages
All reviews
"living roof"
in 297 reviews
"earthquake simulator"
in 164 reviews
"rainforest exhibit"
in 145 reviews
"albino alligator"
in 235 reviews
"an aquarium"
in 185 reviews
"planetarium shows"
in 68 reviews
"tropical rainforest"
in 59 reviews
"natural history"
in 67 reviews
"golden gate park"
in 355 reviews
"birds and butterflies"
in 50 reviews
"penguin feeding"
in 47 reviews
"all ages"
in 265 reviews
"earth quake"
in 44 reviews
"great museum"
in 91 reviews
"science museum"
in 154 reviews
"under one roof"
in 65 reviews
"great for kids"
in 77 reviews

119 - 123 of 5,440 reviews

Reviewed 5 April 2018

The California Academy of Science does "Night LIfe VIP Tours" on Thursday evenings.
On Thursday evenings, there is both a VIP tour, and a General Admission for over 21s as they have pop up bars. (Drink while you explore the exhibits is the best way I can describe it).

Here's some tips:

*We were on vacation and didn't have a car so we caught the 5pm Red Double Decker bus into the Golden Gate Park (where the Academy is) and walked around until 6pm opening. This was fun and recommended. (NOTE the very tall Observation Tower closes at 5pm)
* The doors to the Academy of Science close at 5pm, but reopen at 6pm.
* Prior to 6pm, you'll see people lining up. If you have a VIP ticket, ensure you check the ticket for your "Entry Door" number and line up behind that exact door. (there are several numbered doors at the entry and not everyone lining up on Thursday Night is going to the VIP tour).
* Ours was Door 3, the shortest line (about 30 people), Door 1 had a very long line, about 100 people. This place is popular on Thursday nights.
* While in line, but before the doors open, an attendant will check your ticket and stamp your hand. When they stamp your hand, make sure you say "where do I go when the doors open" because the general door with all the other people also opens and you don't go with them!
* When the doors opened, we moved over to the Right Hand Side and an attendant confirmed we were in the right place. (The ticket says wait near the TRex, but there was no one near the TRex! - There were many people moving about and the academy attendants were not immediately identifiable to us.
* We found the correct attendants and the attendants exchanged our tickets for two drink coupons and a wrist band (identifying us a VIPs) then when there was enough VIP Guests to fill an elevator, we were ushered into an elevator and went to a mezzanine floor.
* At the mezzanine floor was a bar and nibble food.
* Our TIP - no need to drink both drinks in the 30 mins you're on the mezzanine floor, overlooking the lobby (Yes to eating, Yes to one drink, but don't rush to get your second drink before the tour starts, I'll tell you why soon).
* The attendant we had was brilliant! She had to project her voice over a noisy environment, she was informative, she was attentive and gave us a few minutes to finish our snacks before the VIP tour starts.
* During this time, 'hundreds' of other people are entering the lobby to move through the general exhibition area/s
* Our tour started by going back to the same elevator, but going up to the living roof, and for the next 30 to 45mins, we were taken into the 'back stage' (back rooms) of the Academy and saw some awesome stuff.
* As we toured around, most of the time we were above the lobby / ground level where the 100's of other people were. From time to time I'd look down and see other bars serving drinks.
* At the conclusion of our tour, I asked one of the other bar attendants would he honour a VIP drink coupon? He said absolutely, So there is no need to rush your 2nd free drink upon entry, you can sip that one, and have your other free drink after the tour if you wish!
* At the end of our tour, we headed for the gift shop and then outside.
* There were no taxi cabs, no buses, but it was UberEverywhere out there.
* We had a 3 day Muni ticket (cable car, Tram, Bus) and decided to walk the 200 metres to the Golden Gate Park entrance and caught the "5" back into Down Town. So easy!

Summary - it was fun, lots of young people, lots of bars, lots to see.

I hope this has helped you!

Thank Slider W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2018

Needed an activity to do while on Easter break. Was supposed to go to Sausalito Discover museum but changed plans.

Thank PickyPickyTracy_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2018

This museum combines many different activities: natural history, aquarium, planetarium. Museum is one of the eligible activities in the Go Card Explorer Pass. We enjoyed the planetarium show which is included in the admission price.

Thank renees884
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 5 April 2018

I spent several hours exploring this wonderful attraction. I enjoyed the planetarium and watched the presentation there, experienced the feeling of what being in two different San Francisco earthquakes would have felt like in the earthquake exhibit, and spent over an hour in the rain forest enjoying the amazing assortment of birds and butterflies. The docents are knowledgeable, friendly and assist in planning your visit as to not miss anything of your interests.

Thank cerric0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed California Academy of Sciences also viewed


Been to California Academy of Sciences? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing