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California Academy of Sciences

Golden Gate Park


Why is there grass on the roof?

The Living Roof at California Academy of Sciences

© 2008 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by permission.
  • Hours: Open daily except Thanksgiving1 and Dec. 25
  • Reservations: Not required, but you can skip the line (and save money on busy days) if you buy tickets in advance
  • Cost: Admission charged. Children under 6 free. One Sunday per quarter is free for everyone and monthly free days for San Franciscans. Details are here
  • Location: Golden Gate Park, directions below
  • How Long: 3 to 4 hours
  • Best Time to Visit: Weekdays less crowded

Visiting California Academy of Sciences

At the California Academy of Sciences, science is natural: a planetarium, African Hall (with penguins), swamp exhibit with a white alligator, T Rex and blue whale skeletons and an aquarium. The building sports a "green" roof covered with local plants and has a nice observation deck.

Tips for Visiting the California Academy of Sciences

  • On busy days, ticket lines stretch more than a block at opening time and a surcharge is added to tickets purchased at the door. Buy tickets online in advance, get in much faster and there's no surcharge.

  • The Academy also offers some fun behind-the-scenes tours and it's best to reserve in advance for the nightlife tour or the Platinum behind-the-scenes tour.

  • Planetarium shows fill up fast. Pick up passes as soon as you arrive.

  • The California Academy of Sciences opens later on Sunday than other days.

  • Entry is allowed until 1 hour before closing, but going so late would not be a good value for money. Get there at least 2-3 hours before closing. On very busy days, they may be open later than usual. Hours are here

  • If you get hungry, try the Academy Cafe or the Moss Room, a full service restaurant (reservations at 415-876-6121 or online through Open Table).

Getting to California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr
San Francisco, CA
California Academy of Sciences website

The California Academy of Sciences is on the east end of Golden Gate Park, near the DeYoung Museum and Japanese Tea Garden.

If you drive to California Academy of Sciences, enter Golden Gate Park at Fulton St and 8th Ave to use the underground garage. You can park for free on streets nearby. Most convenient are John F. Kennedy Dr near the Conservatory of Flowers or Martin Luther King Dr near the Arboretum. Find several ways to get there by car.

Parking fills up on weekends and some streets close to automobiles on Sunday. If you have a mobile device, you can get real-time information about the garage status and alternative parking locations. Or skip the driving and check public transit options.

1 Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

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