California Academy of Sciences

Only have an hour or two to visit the Academy? We’ve put together a short guide featuring tips and can’t-miss visitor highlights to help you plan your day. 

If you have 1–2 hours:

Osher Rainforest

Steinhart Aquarium: Definitely don't miss Venom: Fangs, Stingers, and Spines, our newest exhibit featuring over a dozen animals that bite, sting and stun. Other highlights include the Philippine Coral Reef, home to the deepest indoor display of living coral in the world, and the California Coast exhibit, which showcases the diversity of animals found in California’s coastal waters.

Osher Rainforest: A glass dome houses the four-story living rainforest, where birds and butterflies fly freely among lush tropical trees, plants, and other animals from around the world. 

Living Roof: When the sun is out, nothing beats visiting our rolling green roof for views of Golden Gate Park and beyond. California wildflowers bloom in spring while dozens of native plants provide habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies year-round.

African penguins: Visit our colony of charismatic South African birds. Keep an eye out for Tule, our newest penguin chick! 

The Swamp: Meet its most famous resident, Claude, an American alligator with albinism, who shares his home with a duo of prehistoric-looking alligator snapping turtles.


If you have 3–4 hours:

Graceful stingrays soar through Reef Lagoon

See everything above, plus:

Gems and Minerals: Unearthed: In this colorful exhibit, touch sparkling specimens, see a giant quartz crystal up close, and discover minerals that glow fluorescent under UV light.

Reef Lagoon: Watch graceful stingrays and schooling fish glide beneath your feet and around our Philippine mangrove lagoon.

Color of Life: Find out how animals use color for communication, survival, and more with interactive exhibits, live animals, and vibrant specimens.


If you’re visiting with kids:

Early Explorers Cove
  • ​​​Find the “kid-sized” opening and enter a world of small, wiggling eels at the Children’s Eel Garden, located next to the Philippine Coral Reef exhibit.
  • Herd your rambunctious little ones outdoors to the East Garden where there's plenty of room to run around and structures to play on. 

  • Stop by the Science Today station for engaging short videos on Academy science.

  • Cruise along the Reef Lagoon boardwalk and peer at the graceful rays passing under the porthole as you walk over it.