A hands-on science museum for children in Golden Gate Park seemed like a great place to take Bethypoo, so we decided to give the California Academy of Sciences a visit during the Memorial Day weekend.
The place is huge! With several floors devoted to different subjects and a confusing map to work with, we opted to start with the “Rainforests of the World” exhibit, a four-story rainforest enclosed in a 90-foot glass dome, and recommended by many as a definite must-see.
We’ve been told this exhibit would be spectacular, and that Bethypoo would love it. However, I made the mistake of not visiting the museum’s website beforehand! I would’ve learned that this rainforest exhibit has a constant temperature of 82-85 degrees, with 75% humidity. These aren’t terribly uncomfortable conditions, but we were dressed in clothes suitable for a cool, San Francisco morning! I also didn’t anticipate the large crowd so early in the day, so walking through the forest was an experience full of perspiration.
However, Bethypoo seemed to be oblivious of her Dada’s discomfort, and was full of smiles at seeing the butterflies flitting around her. The signs posted next to the exits and elevators warned us to check our clothing and bags for butterflies that may have hitched a ride with us, and I must’ve looked like an idiot, repeatedly twisting and turning to ensure I wasn’t stealing or potentially injuring a little critter. The aquarium in this exhibit is awesome, with a view of the pond life both above and below it, via a tunnel directly underneath!
Upon leaving the rainforest dome and finding relief from its heat and humidity, Mummy and I discovered that we must’ve visited the best exhibit first, because the rest of the museum seemed ho-hum in comparison, at least from our perspective. Bethypoo disagreed. At times, I’m jealous of her ability to find wonder in anything large or small, however obscure!
After walking through an African animals exhibit, we decided to leave and find a place for lunch, with the museum’s cafeteria appearing to have a line that would last until dinnertime. We found a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant not far from the Golden Gate Bridge, and for me, this was the highlight of the day.
Overall, I agree with many parents who believe the California Academy of Sciences is a great place to take children. My problem is that I’ve been to better museums at a fraction of the cost! Some points to consider:
– The tickets are expensive! $34.95 for an adult ticket, to me, is a bit steep. However, a basic understanding of economics would suggest that even this price still might be too low, based on the large crowds. Yikes! For the price-conscious parents, I think a visit to either the Oakland Zoo or San Francisco Zoo is a better option, and at half the cost. I felt as if I was falling for a tourist trap.
– My view of this museum is unfortunately influenced by visits to similar museums. The Natural History Museum in London, UK is awesome…and FREE! Yes, I understand these two museums receive different types of funding, but that’s not my point…
– Come early! Unless you score a parking space close to the museum, expect a long walk. Or, you can park in the underground parking area, if you don’t mind the traffic getting into the parking lot and high hourly rates.
– These types of places employ the summer-hire teenagers, so do not be surprised if you receive condescending customer service from some of the younger-looking employees.
– Check out the website! At the ticket window, only the regular ticket prices are posted. Students and seniors also receive a slight discount.