San Francisco Day Trip | Academy of Sciences
Interested in a San Francisco Bay Area day trip? The kid-friendly Academy of Sciences includes huge Aquariums, a living Rainforest and more!
Getting to the Academy of Sciences
We started in the South Bay but did not want to be in heavy traffic, so we left around 10 am. This time we decided to drive, due to the freedom of arriving and leaving whenever we pleased. Driving to San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge is always fun because of the ocean, San Francisco’s history, the houses, and the scenery that makes you feel like you’ve ventured into a different world.
If you drive, there are a couple different parking options. For those who don’t mind walking, feel free to park along the road that leads up to the Academy of Sciences. This is a free 4-hour parking spot. Otherwise, you can park in the garage that leads right to your destination. To find more about parking prices and locations, click here. We chose to park in the garage due to the abundance of people who were already there.
Tip: If you want free parking and don’t want to walk far, get there early.
Explore the First Floor
Once inside we saw lots of children, families, and new places to explore. The whole first floor is filled with open exhibits that feature kid-friendly learning stations. These include interactive and scientific games, videos, tutorials, posters, figures, taxidermied animals, and various workers and tour guides explaining different topics about the world.
You decide which direction and exhibit you want to explore first. We went to see the famous Albino Alligator, Claude. He sure did not move much, just laid on his rock. I heard a nearby lady ask if he was even real. It made us think, but of
We love the ocean so we then went into the Steinhart Aquarium. Here you’ll see a massive tank filled with lots of very pretty fish, coral and other sea life. Who knows, maybe you’ll even see Dory and Nemo! Lots more tanks of all sizes are inside Steinhart that are home to many fish, local and from around the world. Also, along the walls there are colorful posters and info boards full of interesting facts. They even have touch screen monitors that go into detail about certain fish in the tanks, the environment and much more.
Tip: The Academy of Sciences provides professional photos online of their flash-sensitive fish and animals here.
Tusher African Hall
Next we walked around to the Tusher African Hall, which has a live African Penguin exhibit! Children and families crowded around and watched the cute penguins interact with the staff on duty. This young man was using his ID card to play with the penguins. The birds took turns biting the card to try to claim it as their own. Some even thought the man’s pants were free game; they tugged on the ends but didn’t get far. The crowd was amused.
There also are more taxidermied animals in this Hall that shed a glimpse of their natural habitats. Zebras, monkeys, antelopes, lions, the famous “Lucy” that’s used to portray the Human Odyssey exhibit and much more African wildlife.
Tip: Check out the high ceilings and architecture in the Tusher African Hall.
We ventured through the Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs next. This place is cool, especially for the kids. The ceilings are full of life-size flying dinosaurs that are pretty realistic. There’s several large screens that are used as interactive virtual-reality dinosaur games. You literally use your arms to fly and steer as if you were a Pterosaur. The kids, and adults, love it!
The Living Rainforest
Okay, if you love seeing wildlife and real-life habitats, the Osher Rainforest is a must see. This dome has 4 floors that show everything from the ocean to the sky. At the bottom, you see The Flooded Forest that contains huge freshwater fish. Moving upstairs you see butterflies of all kinds flying around. There was even a man we passed who had a Blue Morpho Butterfly land on him for a bit. Of course there’s lots of tropical plants too.
But the best part is the darling Macaws. When we passed these two sweet birds twice. The first time they were cawing and making lots of noise. The second time one was doing tricks on its own! See the video for a few seconds of mad skills.
Of course there’s so much more to see and do at the Academy of Sciences. We encourage you to visit this awesome and educational building full of wildlife. Besides, the kids love it!