California Academy of Sciences (Aquarium)
||San Francisco, CA|
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The California Academy of Sciences is a large aquarium in Golden Gate Park. It has world-class, gorgeous exhibits featuring animals and plants from the Amazon, California tide pools, and Philippine coral reefs. Some of the creatures are truly amazing, ones you have never seen before! Even though it is very expensive to enter this aquarium, it is worth it!
The Philippine coral reef area can be viewed from above and below the water. Bright lights like sunlight shine on the water causing the fish to glow as beautifully as they would in natural light. There is a spotted sting ray in his own tank. And there is a tank with giant sting rays. Below, a huge tank is filled with the vibrant fish and coral, and you can sit on carpeted steps and watch to your heart's content. The tiny purple fish with a single orange stripe are so lovely!
The Amazon area is a highlight of the aquarium. Here you walk in a spiral around three levels of the rainforest. Under an archway you see strange-shaped large fish. In the mid-level are little exhibits with the lovely strange creatures like chameleons, four-eyed fish, and geckos, plus tropical plants like vines that swing across the cerulean water. At the top level, butterflies flit around you, including large blue ones. There are little frogs of all varieties in exhibits- spotted ones, orange ones, Glass Frogs that have skin like opaque green glass bottles! It is fun to try to spot the animals in the tanks and then to watch how amazing they are!
The California tide pools area has purple sea urchins on rocks, with currents swishing to and fro. Orange, pink, and purple starfish and abalone cling to the rocks. There is a touch tank where kids can touch starfish and silver abalone (I always feel sorry for touch tank animals!). Moon jellies are displayed in tanks with changing lights. A small tank with feather stars swishing in the current is a delight.
There is a mangrove swamp section with an albino alligator.
Besides the aquarium, there are also temporary exhibits such as one about mammal skulls, and permanent exhibits, like the earthquake simulator which is a lot of fun for school-aged kids.
The rooftop garden, which looks so space-age and interesting in the photos, is a big disappointment as it is kind of neglected.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
California Academy of Sciences is located in Golden Gate Park at 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco CA 94118, call (415) 379-8000.
Open M-S 9:30-5, Sun 11-5. Closed on Thanksgiving (fourth Thurs in Nov) and Dec 25.
Admission is $35 for adults, $30 for seniors, students and children aged 12 and up, and $25 for children aged 4-11. Family membership is $199/year.
You can park for around $18 in the parking structure off Fulton St at 10th Ave.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.