I received comped tickets to the California Academy of Sciences in exchange for my honest review. Read full disclosure here.
The California Academy of Sciences is located in San Francisco inside of Golden Gate Park. The museum is an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and a rainforest all in the same building! When you walk into the museum you are greeted by a giant T-Rex skeleton. If you couldn't tell by Teddy and his dad's dino attire, we are pretty big dinosaur fans, so this was pretty neat.
Teddy also liked The Swamp with an albino alligator and alligator snapping turtles. More specifically, he liked the decorative railing around The Swamp...go figure. We watched a cool science demonstration outside of the Project Lab and a docent let us touch some real shark teeth before really diving in to the exhibits.
First, we started downstairs in the Steinhart Aquarium. The tanks were huuuuge, from floor to ceiling. Teddy was able to go right up against the glass and watched the fish swim past. He was pointing at everything and looking at the tanks. Every time a big fish would swim by him he would get excited and grin from ear to ear.
We walked through an underwater tunnel and got to see some giant fish from the Amazon Flooded Forest. Teddy waved to some SCUBA divers that were cleaning the glass and pointed to the brightly colored fish in the Philippine Coral Reef. One of the coolest parts was the Discovery Tidepool where Teddy got the chance to touch a real starfish.
The aquarium might have been smaller than others, but in my opinion it rivaled the Monterey Bay Aquarium!
The Osher Rainforest is in a 90 foot tall glass dome. You take a spiral path up through three levels of the rainforest. There weren't many animals besides a parrot and a few butterflies. I was a little disappointed, but Teddy liked the colorful butterflies.
The elevator out of the rainforest only goes to the bottom floor to the Amazon section of the aquarium. Now that I think about it, it makes sense so you can see one more rainforest ecosystem, but with a stroller it was a little annoying to have to take another elevator back up to where we wanted to be.
The Rainforest was partially closed when we visited and is currently being renovated. It will reopen in October with some cool updates.
KIMBALL NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
The rest of the museum I suppose is considered the Kimball Natural History Museum. There was an exhibit called The Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet that had a large 3-D map of the most recent earthquakes and a few interactives. Teddy loved pushing all of the buttons and cranking the radio in the earthquake preparedness section.
In the Tusher African Hall, Teddy ran around looking at all of the stuffed African animal dioramas and the real life African Penguins. For some reason Teddy was most interested in the light up display of species migration in the Human Odyssey part of the hall.
We briefly checked out the exhibit Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs because Teddy was bordering on a meltdown. It looked pretty cool and had some interactives and a virtual reality experience.
We were super excited to see the Morrison Planetarium but when we got there we found out they don't admit children under 4 and don't recommend the show for children under 6. The staff told us children "ruin the experience for others". Why not have some family-friendly timeslots??
COST + ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
- $35.95 Adults, $30.95 Youth+ Students with ID (12-17), $25.95 Children (4-12), FREE for Children under 4
- Parking Garage does not validate.
- Start in the rainforest because the elevator out only goes to the bottom floor of the aquarium.
- No kids under 4 were allowed in the Planetarium (kids under 6 are frowned upon)
Who has two thumbs and loves science? This guy!
SHOULD YOU VISIT THE CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES WITH YOUR TODDLER?
Yes, I think you should! I wish there were more hands-on activities for kids, but there were a few interactives and demonstrations that were more geared towards older children or adults. I think an older child would get much more out of this museum and toddlers will absolutely love the aquarium section of the museum!