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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 26 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Laura Kiniry

The California Academy of Sciences has a lot going for it: it’s the world’s greenest museum, it’s one of the largest natural history museums, it’s overflowing with innovative, interactive learning spaces, it has a planetarium, aquarium, and four-storey rainforest under its roof – and it’s hands-down one of San Francisco’s best attractions.

Outside it’s just as spectacular: the glass-and-steel building was designed by Renzo Piano, and has a 2.5-acre garden roof covered with 1.7 million native plants.

Don't miss

The Philippine Coral Reef is a must-see – it’s the world’s deepest display of living corals. The 90-foot-diameter planetarium dome is cantilevered out over the reef.

The Earthquake planetarium show begins with an all-digital recreation of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, including a vivid depiction of downtown Market Street moments after the estimated 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit.

Price from: £35
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The museum, which is located in the Golden Gate Park’s northeast corner, is best reached on foot or bike, or by public transit.

When to do it

The museum is open all year round, seven days a week.

On Thursday evenings after normal hours they host ‘NightLife’, a special session focused on nocturnal critters. Book ahead.

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

California Academy of Sciences NightLife Admission Ticket

San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences NightLife Admission Ticket
Calling all creatures of the night: explore the nocturnal side of the Academy at NightLife and see what's revealed. Featuring a new theme each week with live DJs, outdoor bars, special programming, and nearly 60,000 live animals. Embrace the unexpected on Thursday nights! (From 6pm to 10pm, Ages 21+ with valid, physical photo ID)

Price: $23

Min age: 21

Rating 4.32 / 5 [50 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket

San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket
Embark on a science adventure when you visit the world's only aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum - all under one living roof! And to make it as easy as possible, this ticket includes instant access, meaning you don't have to go to a separate kiosk to redeem your ticket — just present it at the California Academy of Science's entrance and be on your way. IMPORTANT PLEASE NOTE: Please check the website link that can be found in your voucher for the latest information before your visit.

Price: $41

Min age: 3

Rating 4.17 / 5 [519 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

San Francisco

California, United States of America (USA)

Early morning low fog at Golden Gate Bridge

A beautiful bayside city with home-grown authenticity, charmingly unique neighbourhoods and excellent locally-driven food. Home to the magnificent red-ochre Golden Gate Bridge and the world’s most infamous prison, Alcatraz.