A Day at the California Academy of Sciences

We decided to visit the California Academy of Sciences with friends. An Aquarium, Planetarium, Natural History Museum, live exhibits and more.  We were excited to explore the world right here in San Francisco and have a day we could all enjoy. 

Do you have a young aspiring scientist at home? Or maybe looking for something fun to do with the kids for the day? That’s where I was at, deciding what to do with the family while on break. I needed a fun day out and something to do for my aspiring scientist-the rest of us were along for the ride. Oh, what fun it was!

When you enter the California Academy of Sciences there’s a towering T-Rex Dinosaur the kids were fascinated with. You can see fossils of all kinds of animals hanging throughout the museum like a 87-foot whale skeleton.

The kids wanted to see the Aquarium first and off we went!

Aquarium FUN Fact!

Since 1923, the Steinhart Aquarium has developed a colorful history of firsts. From becoming the first public aquarium to display flashlight fish and coconut octopuses.

We stayed to watch the Coral Reef Dive and Kaeden was able to get right up front. We captured this memorable moment. He was so excited that the diver touched hands with him.

The kids enjoyed the Discovery Tidepool where they were able to touch starfish, sea urchins and abalone shells. The boys explored more parts of the aquarium and went to see the Albino Alligator known as Claude. The debate began whether he was real or not. He’s real, we eventually saw him move but it was fun for the boys to debate. 

Rainforest FUN FACT!

Housed in a spectacular 90-foot-diameter glass dome, The California Academy of Sciences rainforest exhibit is the largest of its kind in the world. With temperatures of 82–85 degrees and humidity at 75 percent or above, it will instantly transport you to some of the most biodiverse places on Earth.

The kids enjoyed learning all about the plant, animals, and insects that live on each level of the rainforest. You can see butterflies fluttering around and if you stand very still sometimes they’ll land on you. There’s so much to explore!

The Naturalist Center FUN FACT!

100’s of specimens pack the shelves of the Naturalist Center ready for you to explore.

This is where my youngest got really excited. We could have started here and if left up to him stayed here all day. It’s all hands-on exploration with scavenger hunts, mystery boxes, and games. With so much to do and look at it’s never the same experience each time we’ve gone. This time he was fascinated with the microscope and looking at the butterflies under a magnifying glass. The older kids had fun looking at all the creepy crawlers inside containers on the specimen shelves.

The Shake House FUN Fact!

Experience the sustained tremors of San Francisco’s two biggest quakes—the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake and the 7.9-magnitude Great San Francisco quake of 1906—from inside the dining room of a Victorian-era “Painted Lady” house.

We were trying so hard to stay on our feet and holding on, we have no pictures!

More to do at the California Academy of Sciences

The Living Roof Don’t forget to see this when you go for the day. It’s a quick trip up to the top and the kids will have fun looking at habitats on the roof and the animals living there.

The Planetarium Get your tickets as soon as you enter. Showtimes sell out quickly and we’ve missed seeing this expereince before.

The African Hall Explore our evolutionary history while surrounded by dioramas of African. There’s a variety of animal displays the kids will enjoy looking at from zebras to snakes, lions and more.

Check the daily schedule before you go and you can plan to include these events in your day:

Penguin Feeding

Snake Encounter 

Junior Scientist: Live 

Interstellar Storytime

Swamp Talk 

There’s so much to explore, you can take your time and pick a few exhibits to slowly explore or participate in their workshops and live exhibits. The great thing about the California Academy of Sciences is that no experience is ever the same.

What are your favorite tips for visiting?

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