Marvelous Museums – the California Academy of Science

Many colorful coral reef fish from the Philipines Coral Reef exhibit swim about. The majority of the fishes are Blue Tangs (aka "Dory" from the Pixar film Finding Nemo).

About the Museum

Explore a living rainforest, coral reefs, and the depths of space all in one day! There's plenty to see from a T-rex skeleton to live butterflies fluttering just past your nose. Adults & kids alike will enjoy awe-inspiring exhibits about earthquakes, human evolution, ecosystems, and exactly how BIG the universe really is. The museum offers something for all ages - all you need is a curious mind.

Colorful moon jellyfish floating in a vivid blue tank.


  • Pack lunch & water. Visitors are allowed to eat at the outdoor Piazza, East Garden, or West Garden.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Dress in layers– Don't let a sunny San Francisco day fool you! Expect fog & chilling winds all year round.
  • There is a coat check in the museum.
  • Museum's Accessibility Guide: Tips regarding ADA accessibility, food allergies, sensory needs, & more.
  • Parent & Guardian Tips: How to prepare for a trip with young children.
  • Planetarium: Pick up tickets ahead of time to guarantee a seat to their breath-taking shows!
  • Daily Calendar: Discover events like yoga & animal encounters!

Claude the resident albino American alligator lounging on a rock in his swamp.

Ticket Discounts

  • SJPL Discover & Go Passes: A limited number of passes available to SJPL patrons on a first-come first served basis. Passes must be reserved in advanced through the Discover & Go website.
  • Save $3 per ticket when you walk, bike or bus to the museum. More information.
  • Have SNAP, CalFresh, EBT or WIC? Get a special discount! Pay only $3.00/ticket (up to 4 tickets). At the ticket window, present a photo ID with your SNAP, CalFresh, EBT OR WIC to get this discount!
    Go to the Free Reduced Admission page for more details from the California Academy of Sciences about the discount. Also see the Museum For All program's website or FAQ page.
  • College student discounts: available with valid student ID
  • Military Discount: $3 off with valid military ID

Special 21+ Events

  • Thursday NightLife Events (21+): Adult only full access to the museum for reduced pricing during Thursday nights. Themes change weekly and have included Star Wars night, LGBTQ Pride celebration, or live concerts featuring up-and-coming bands. Special bars are set up throughout the museum. There's also a live DJ and dance floor.

A butterfly resting on green tropical foliage in the the Academy's Osher Rainforest.

Transit Tips

The California Academy of Sciences parking lot fills to capacity quickly. Forget driving on those crazy hills, mazing through one-way streets, or driving in circles looking for a parking spot. One of the best ways to get around San Francisco is via the public transit. Whether or not you decide to drive, take a look at these links:


A panoramic view of San Francisco from the de Young's admission-free Harmon Observatory. The California Academy of Sciences is visible on the right-hand side.

Beyond the Museum

360 Panoramic View of San Francisco

  • de Young Harmon Observatory Tower (FREE): Get a fantastic, free, 360 panoramic view of San Francisco just steps away from the museum. See the Golden Gate Bridge, the downtown skyline, San Francisco's sweeping hills, Pacific Ocean, and the Marin headlands without wearing out your tired feet. Elevator accessible.

Food & Shopping: Irving Street

  • Feast on cuisine from around the world on Irving Street just steps away from the museum. With over a mile-long stretch of restaurants to choose from you'll be sure to find something to satisfy ANY craving.
  • Explore the shops nearby to find anything from magic shops, Japanese imports, or unique San Francisco souvenirs.

Events in Golden Gate Park

  • Free Summer Music Concerts (late April - early October)
    Sundays, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM at the Music Concourse directly in front of the museum.
    PRO TIP: Enjoy the concert from the Academy's Living Roof while taking in a bird's eye view of Golden Gate Park.
  • SF Sunday Streets (March - mid October)
    Sundays, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, various locations
    About Sunday Streets: Sunday Streets is a FREE weekly block party open to the public which rotates between different neighborhoods in San Francisco. During Sunday Streets, a main street in the hosting neighborhood is closed off to car traffic and becomes a space for walking, biking, skating, or playing games. The events usually feature live music, art activities, and a kid fun-areas. They take place between the 1st weekend in March through the 2nd weekend in October. At least once a year, an event is hosted in Golden Gate Park.

Two zebras from the Tusher African Hall dioramas.

SJPL Library Resources

Cover for the book "California Academy of Sciences : Architecture in Harmony with Nature.". It features of view of the Osher Rainforest.

California Academy of Sciences : Architecture in Harmony with Nature
by Susan Wels

Book (Reference Only - California Room 5th Floor)

Cover for the book "Nature of the Rainforest: Costa Rica and Beyond." It features a green tree frog on a leaf with a black backdrop.

Nature of the Rainforest : Costa Rica and Beyond
by Adrian Forsyth


Cover for the book "Pierre the Penguin: A True Story." It features a realistic illustration of an African Penguin splashing as it swims on the surface of water.

Pierre the penguin : A True Story
by Jean Morzollo

Book | eBook (Axis 360) | eBook (enki)

Cover for the book "A Kid's Guide to San Francisco." It features an colorful illustration of the iconic orange suspension-style Golden Gate Bridge. Other San Francisco landmarks are on on the cover as well including the Painted Sisters (Victorian homes), a cable car, a Chinese dragon, and a container ship.

A Kid's Guide to San Francisco
by Eileen Ogintz

Book | eBook (enki)

The cover for "In the Rainforest." It features an illustration of two children, a boy and girl, wearing helmets walking along a wooden treetop suspension bridge. The girl is taking notes and the boy is looking down. An ant eater is following them. Other animals roaming in the forest canopy include a brown monkey, a jaguar, birds, and a butterfly.

In the Rainforest
by Kate Duke


The cover for "The Story of Earth" features two scientific illustrations of our planet: one of an early magma-covered Earth on top and the image of Earth as we know it today below.

The story of Earth : the first 4.5 billion years, from stardust to living planet
by Robert Hazen

eAudiobook (Hoopla)

The cover for "Dinosaurs: the Grand Tour" features the colorful profile of a Tyranasarus-like dinosaur. It has a green face with a blue eye-mask, white jaw, and a golden-yellow crest just above the eyes. Large razor-sharp teeth are visible. The neck is spiked along the top and blue on top, green in the middle, and purple underneath.

Dinosaurs—the grand tour : everything worth knowing about dinosaurs from Aardonyx to Zuniceratops
by Keiron Pim

Book (Reference Only - King 2nd Floor) | eBook (enki)

The cover for the book "not for Tourist Guide to San Francisco" is black and only features the title.

Not for Tourists Guide to San Francisco
by Not For Tourist, Inc.

Book | eBook (Ebsco)

A black and white illustration of six books piled on top of each other.

Theodore Henry Hittell's The California Academy of Sciences : a narrative history, 1853-1906
by Theodore Henry Hittell

Book (Reference Only - California Room, 5th Floor

A black and white illustration of six books piled on top of each other.

Secret Lives of Ants
by Jae Choe

eBook (Overdrive) | eBook (Ebsco)

A bright yellow poison dart frog from the Osher Rainforest exhibit clings to the exhibit's glass.

For Kids

  • PowerKnowledge Earth & Space Science (Grades 3-6): Explore topics including ecosystems & biomes, energy & matter, natural disasters, space science, and more.
  • PowerKnowledge Life Science (Grades 3-6): Explore topics including animals, food chains & food webs; green living; habitats & ecosystems; the human body; life cycles; plants; and survival & adaptation.
  • PowerKnowledge Physical Science (Grades 3-6): Explore key science topics including atoms and molecules; elements and the periodic table; energy and matter; force and motion; and temperature and measurement.
  • More Science Websites for Kids hand-picked by SJPL librarians


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