AAA Editor Notes
The California Academy of Sciences is in Golden Gate Park at 55 Music Concourse Dr. Parking is available but limited; use public transportation. Muni's 44 bus line (O'Shaughnessy) stops at the Music Concourse on Tea Garden Drive (southbound) and in front of the academy on Music Concourse Drive (northbound). The 5 (Fulton) and 21 (Hayes) buses stop at 8th Avenue and Fulton Street just outside the park; from there it's a short walk to the museum.
Leading the way in sustainable architectural concepts, the building makes use of such recycled material as blue jeans for wall insulation. And the “living roof” is just that: a 2.5-acre carpet of native plants that include four species of perennials and five species of wildflowers. Seven green hillocks provide a distinctive undulating profile, which visitors can view up close from the rooftop observation deck.
Dioramas in the Kimball Natural History Museum's African Hall showcase mounted lions, zebras, baboons and other animals; African penguins and Old World chameleons are among the living residents. The Foucault Pendulum, suspended from the ceiling next to the planetarium, proves irrefutable proof of planet Earth's rotation.
The Steinhart Aquarium's twin highlights are the Philippine Coral Reef, a 212,000-gallon tank populated with a spectacular assemblage of tropical fish that gleam like multicolored jewels, and the 100,000-gallon Northern California Coast tank, inhabited by such indigenous marine life as sea anemones, sardines, rockfish and grouper.
The all-digital Morrison Planetarium's state-of-the-art projector and software technologies present programs onto a 75-foot screen tilted at a 30-degree angle, seemingly immersing the viewer in space. Traditional star shows are augmented by special programming such as live NASA feeds.
In the Osher Rainforest, a four-story domed enclosure, visitors follow a spiraling path upward through an exhibit lush with orchids, bromeliads and mahogany trees and filled with free-flying birds and butterflies, reptiles and amphibians.
Guided tours are available. Food is available. Time: Allow 4 hours minimum.