About a week ago I took the kids to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Part aquarium, part natural history museum, part botanical garden, it’s a pretty cool place to see. It’s especially nice if it’s a great day outside and you can work a walk in the park into the mix.
Would I go to this place over and over and over? I don’t know. As with a lot of things in San Francisco, the Academy of Sciences is currently suffering from the new-new-thing-itis. Meaning, every-every-everyone has to go there. Across the way is the de Young museum, and it was probably 1/2 as crowded, but a year or two ago, it was all the rage and you *had* to go there to be a cool kid/parent. Three years before that, it was the Botanical Garden (also very close and in GGPark). Both those places are much more manageable now, as they’re no longer the new-new-thing. My father in law bought a membership there for himself, a guest, and kids so that he can bring grandkids, and that is why we went while it’s still new.
Since it’s crowded, it’s hard to really assess if it’s a ‘go over and over’ place. There was no lingering over a display because you were blocking the next and next and next person’s access to it. Carter did get to touch a snake for the first time, so that is cool.
Being a hybrid of sorts, I suspect the Academy suffers from “Master of None” Syndrome. If you want a zoo, the SF or Oakland Zoos have it beat. If you want an aquarium, then there is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. But I will say this – the architecture was WAY cool, and it had a rain forest in it.
Since the line to get in the rainforest habitat is very long, I had ample time to admire the structure.
There’s a catwalk that winds around the inside of the dome with a lagoon, trees, etc. in the center. People walk up, up, up the three stories at a gentle slope and then ride an elevator back down to the bottom, which is a floor down and under the rainforest to reveal the flooded environment.
It’s pretty cool to stand a good 75 feet up and see people peering through water from the tunnel waaaay down there.
That screen conceals the elevator. When in the elevator, riders can see through it to a different angle of the ‘bubble’ innards.
So, yeah, cool. But I think the kids enjoy a day at the Discovery Museum more, honestly, and it’s only 5 minutes from my house. I’m sure we’ll go back in a year to revisit it, but it’s not something I’ll add to our rotation per se.