Marvelous Museums – the California Academy of Science
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.
- 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!
- 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.
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:
- Getting to the Museum: Tips for driving, biking, & busing to the museum
- Tips & Resources for driving in San Francisco: Find meter information, learn how to avoid a pricey parking ticket, find blue-zones, & more.
- Find Parking Lots: Select a specific lot or garage to see rates.
- Official MuniMobile App: Streamline paying for the whole family's bus tickets in San Francisco from their official app (iOS/Android).
- Official CaltrainMobile App: Allows for the purchase of day tickets, zone upgrades, daily parking, etc. all from the Official Caltrain App (iOS/Android).
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.
SJPL Library Resources
California Academy of Sciences : Architecture in Harmony with Nature
by Susan Wels
The story of Earth : the first 4.5 billion years, from stardust to living planet
by Robert Hazen
Dinosaurs—the grand tour : everything worth knowing about dinosaurs from Aardonyx to Zuniceratops
by Keiron Pim
Theodore Henry Hittell's The California Academy of Sciences : a narrative history, 1853-1906
by Theodore Henry Hittell
- 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