My husband and I visited the California Academy of Sciences to check it out before we bring our granddaughters. We bought a senior membership for $59 (fully tax deductible), which includes admission for one member plus one guest. Family memberships are $159, which includes admission for two adults and all your children or grandchildren 18 years of age and under each time you visit. Memberships are well worth the price if you live in the area because one adult admission is $24.95. Members get free unlimited admission, express entrance and special members-only hours. There’s underground parking, which is the most convenient but you can also search for a space on Martin Luther King Drive.
Volunteers are available everywhere to answer questions and describe the exhibits. We arrived at 9:30 am and got our pass for the 10:30 am show at the Morrison Planetarium . The planetarium has 300 stadium-style seats and six cameras that create an “Imax” effect. The current show “Fragile Planet” is spectacular and is appropriate for ages seven and up.
Before the show, we visited the African Hall, where we saw the newly painted dioramas and all the wild animals from the original Academy. In addition, they’ve added a penguin exhibit. Your grandchildren will love watching the colony of 20 African penguins dip and dive in the 25,000-gallon tank. According to a volunteer, these penguins are becoming extinct.
From the planetarium, we went to the Rainforests of the World exhibit where butterflies and birds fly freely around the trees and visitors. A beautiful red-winged butterfly landed on my hand and I watched a panther chameleon unfurl its long tongue to catch an insect.
For lunch, we checked out the Moss Room, which is a full service restaurant, but opted to serve ourselves at the bountiful Academy Café, which has a wide variety of tasty multicultural dishes.
We ended our day with a visit to the Living Roof, a 2.5-acre expanse of native California plants. The roof is designed to provide insulation for the museum as well as a new habitat for native birds.
Although we didn’t see all of the exhibits, we were satisfied with our four-hour visit. We saw many grandparents with their grandchildren of all ages. I know we’ll go back again and can’t wait to take our two granddaughters, and maybe their parents — if they’re good!