Museum 1: California Academy of Sciences
Located in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is one of the largest museums of natural history in the world (covering 400,000 square feet) and was completely renovated in 2008. The museum contains an aquarium, a huge, dynamic rainforest exhibit, and a planetarium, and the academy conducts research in 11 different fields.
|Seeing a diver in the aquarium and learning about California marine life|
We saw an outstanding movie about earthquakes in the planetarium. I thought it might freak the kids out a bit about being in the Bay Area, but they seemed to take it well enough. :)
|Our six boys posing on a Galapagos turtle statue after the planetarium movie|
|The museum's albino alligator, named Claude|
The rainforest exhibit was fascinating...they let in a limited number of people at a time, and then you walk up a revolving pathway all the way to the top, where the butterflies hang out. So fascinating!
|Waiting in line|
The City Pass gave us an option between the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39 in San Francisco. Although Monterey was a trek from San Carlos (where we were staying), the reviews convinced us it was worth it...and boy was it ever. We have an outstanding aquarium in Oregon, but Monterey Bay topped that one...it's the best aquarium I've ever visited.
I had heard of the aquarium for years because I'm familiar with its Seafood Watch, which explains which seafood and fish are best to avoid because of toxicity or overfishing. The aquarium is on the site of a former sardine cannery and holds thousands of plants and animals representing more than 600 species. It has enormous open sea tanks and was the first aquarium in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp.
|Nicholas was fascinated with the various sharks|
|My little barnacle boy!|
|I loved this ceiling full of fish!|
Two of my other favorite features were the amazing jellyfish exhibit (way more jellyfish than in the Oregon Coast Aquarium--so fascinating!) and the (temporary) seahorse exhibit.
|And fascinating, beautiful sardines!|
|My little seahorse|
|The boys had fun!|
|This was an interactive exhibit where you could draw a jellyfish (or anything else)|
electronically, and when you press "done,"
it was projected up on the wall with the other sealife
|Nicholas photobombing again, trying to do a wrestler pose!|
|We had lunch outside with this gorgeous view of the bay!|
|View from the entrance (with Coit Tower in the distance)|
The museum now covers 330,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space. I just read that it has a net-zero energy goal as part of its overall sustainability efforts. If it succeeds, it will be the largest net-zero museum in the country and possibly in the world. We spent several hours there but felt like we just skimmed the surface. If you visit San Francisco, you must go--all ages, from small children to adults, will be fascinated for hours.
|View from the outside--that bridge has a fog-producing feature every 30 minutes|
|View of the inside|
|Nicholas in the tornado machine|
|Making funny faces|
|Chris and Kieran in a sketch mirror|
|Nicholas bravely drinking out of the "toilet"|
|Even the teenager enjoyed the museum!|
|Amazing toothpick sculpture by Scott Weaver|
Up next: viewing the Bay Area by water