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San Francisco's Top 10 : Golden Gate Park (part 2) - California Academy of Sciences

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California Academy of Sciences

A spiky specimen from the Academy
  1. Swamp

    Part of the Steinhart Aquarium, the Swamp is home to alligators and alligator snapping turtles. There are also exhibits on rattlesnakes, frogs, and salamanders. Find out about the swamps of the Southeast US in the Story Time area.

    An alligator from the Swamp
  2. Discovery Tidepool

    Stroke a starfish, get cozy with hermit crabs, or pick up a sea slug in this hands-on, hands-wet attraction, part of the California Coast exhibits. The pool is staffed by volunteers who will tell you what you’re handling and keep the animals safe, too. Hours vary, since the creatures get a much deserved time-out from time to time.

  3. Coral Reef

    This is the deepest living coral reef display in the world, exhibiting a range of aquatic life from the coral reefs and mangroves of the Philippines. Corals, sharks, rays, sea turtles and reef fishes can be viewed from the surface, and close-up through underwater windows and a glass bridge.

    Clownfish in the Coral Reef exhibit
  4. The Water Planet

    Over 100 tanks and a range of interactive media are used to inform all ages of what it takes to survive under water. A variety of fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects are on display.

  5. Rainforests of the World

    Visitors can experience four diverse rainforest environments in a vast glass dome: the Amazonian Flooded Forest, the Borneo Forest Floor, the Madagascar Rainforest Understory, and the Costa Rica Rainforest Canopy. This includes a diverse range of creatures: piranhas, flying lizards, poison-dart frogs, parrots, geckos, chameleons, and butterflies.

  6. California Coast

    Explore habitats from salt marshes to turbulent rocky inlets and meet a variety of native birds, fish, and invertebrates. The main tank – an exhibit featuring the marine habitats of the Gulf of the Farollones National Marine Sanctuary – is 100,000 gallons in capacity, with large viewing windows, and a crashing wave surge system.

  7. African Hall

    Magnificent dioramas show a range of African fauna, such as cheetahs, rhinos, lions, giraffes, and the straight-horned Oryx, in their natural surroundings. The exhibit ends with a fine colony of African penguins, which can be viewed through a vast window.

  8. Penguin Feeding Time

    The nine pairs of black-footed penguins located in Africa Hall are fed twice daily, and it’s always a spectacle that the whole family enjoys. Penguins may waddle on land, but their grace is evident when you observe them dive and glide effortlessly through the water to catch their meal.

    Penguin Feeding Time
  9. Morrison Planetarium

    Embark on a guided tour of the universe. The night skies never looked more real, and you can travel to the very limits of the known universe with state-of-the-art exhibits and digital technology. Shows are presented on a daily basis.

  10. The Living Roof

    The museum is topped with a 2.5-acre living roof, planted with over 1.7 million native Californian plants. Take an elevator up to the rooftop deck to enjoy the views and learn about the benefits of sustainable architecture.

The Academy’s new facility in Golden Gate Park opened in September 2008. For details: www.calacademy.org


Kids love the Naturalist Center, on the second floor, where there are multimedia displays and art activities.

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