California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park comprises over 1,000 acres of prime real estate right in the heart of San Francisco and is a popular location to hang out at any time the weather is warm. This area also features a lot of great museums as well, with the California Academy of Sciences being one of my favorites. The museum can be pricey if you have a family of four, but it’s an entertaining spot to explore, and there are a few days every year that are free if you check the website. Here is all the information.


  • Cost: $30 (as of 2017)
  • Hours: Most days – 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Location: 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
  • This information is from my visit in 2018
  • Read more of my favorite San Francisco spots here

Getting There

Golden Gate Park is on the west side of San Francisco, and you can get there easily via public transit or Uber/Lyft. You can also drive, and there is usually parking as long as it is not the weekend or the summer. There is parking in the Music Concourse Parking Area as well.

The Museum

The California Academy of Sciences is one large rectangular building with a few floors and a couple of main attractions.

Rainforest Dome

By far, the most popular is the rainforest dome, and it’s easy to see why.

The dome features a circular pathway that you walk, and that gives you access to many different types of plant and animal life.

As you near the top, you will be able to look down through the rainforest and see the giant fish swimming below you.

Also, near the top is where all of the butterflies are. They usually fly all around you, and if you’re lucky, they might even land on you.

This is an entertaining area to spend some time and just watch the butterflies doing their thing. When you are done, you can hop in the elevator and take it all the way down to the aquarium level below the main floor.


This level houses some pretty impressive aquatic exhibits, with lots of different types of fish and other sea life.

There is even a large glass tunnel that you can walk through, and that allows you to look up at the massive sharks and turtles going by. Inside there are more aquariums to see before heading back up to the main floor.


From the staircase, you can see the museum’s famous albino alligator, who usually is just sitting on the rock in the middle of the exhibit. I had never seen one before, so it was a pretty unique experience.


The other main exhibit is a planetarium that displays the universe in a 75-foot dome.

Depending on when you visit, there will be other exhibits on display as well. Some of these are the earthquake exhibit and the colors of life exhibit.

Be sure to stop in and see the penguins before leaving; you can even watch them on the webcam here.

Lastly, during the Christmas season, the museum also has an ice rink that kids can skate on as well as an exhibit on arctic animals.

There is also a snowman theater that talks about snowflakes, and if you are lucky, it might snow on you while you are there.

As you can see, this is a pretty impressive museum to explore in San Francisco. My wife and I enjoyed our time here, and I plan to go back again the future to see more of the things I missed. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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