California Academy of Sciences - with Kids!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!

Yesterday I took the kids on a solo expedition to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. (Much thanks to the Discover and Go program for getting us in for free! Y'all are probably my favorite library program ever.)

It was the first of our planned monthly field trips for homeschool this year. I wasn't thinking about it as exploring our backyard until the ticket people kept commenting on how we were the first local people to visit the museum that day. So now I'm including this as tourists in our own backyard!


Going into Cal Academy is a little overwhelming as a small person since the first thing to greet you is a (mid-size) T-Rex. My kids were somehow more fascinated in the butterfly video playing over the member services desk. Perhaps visiting the T-Rex on the UC Berkeley campus so often has taken some of the awe out of dinosaurs? 


Perhaps Therese's favorite exhibit was the first one we came to: Philippine Coral Reef lagoon. Getting to see rays, large fish, and a shark swimming so close blew her newly 2-year old mind.
One of the walkways has windows in the floor so you can see the fish swimming right under your feet. 
Therese would have been perfectly happy if this was the whole museum.


But it wasn't!
Something I really like about the Cal Academy is their exhibits are shown at different levels. You get to see them from above and below. There is something magical about seeing cool things from the top of the water and then seeing all of the things you could not discern from above.

Lots of exhibits on jellyfish and bioluminesce. 
The more I tried to explain what a jellyfish was, the more like an alien this creature seemed to be. That is one WEIRD animal, y'all.


Other exhibit favorite was the Swamp. Those were some huge snapping turtles, and I think John finally grasps what an Alligator Gar looks like (we have them in Lake Whitney were my family reunion is held.)
The biggests hit of that exhibit was the Albino Alligator. It makes it very easy for the little ones to see, and led to a cool talk about albinism with John.

He made this face the whole time. I could just see the wheels turning.

The rainforest was fun but HOT. There were so many butterflies, but I was terrible at getting a picture of them.


In honor of Therese's birthday this week, we finally got our sushi lunch! The Cal Academy has a pretty sweet cafeteria. The kids loved that an aquarium ran the length of the wall and we got to eat with the fish. 
I managed to not comment on the irony of eating sushi with the fish....


The kids got to get a little toy from the museum store. They had two versions of the albino alligator: one that squeaked, and one that did not but was $2 more. I got the more expensive, but silent, one. 
Best $2 I ever spent.


It takes about an hour, one way, on public transit to get between our house and the Cal Academy. Someone could not quite make it home for nap...
Oh how I've missed Ergo naps!

I highly recommend babywearing for most San Francisco adventures. The Cal Academy itself is extraordinarily stroller and kid friendly, but public transit is very not.

Special shout out for the Academy's baby changing stations in all bathrooms and built in toddler stool for washing hands. It is so very appreciated.
The docents were so helpful and gifted for guiding parents with young kids. Thanks for making a giant solo adventure with littles ones that much easier.


  1. This seems pretty cool! Very similar to a museum that we have near NYC. You’ve inspiried me to take the kids there soon! From the looks on the kids faces, it looks they they had an awesome time!

  2. Wow! Looks lovely! The jellyfish sort of skeeve me out and fascinate me at the same time.

    I love that Therese was using her chopsticks as skewers.

    How smart that you opted for the non-squeakers. :)

  3. Fist bump for going solo! Public transit and all!

  4. Jellyfish terrify me! I have been stung so many times at the beach, especially when I was a child. I never understood how something so majestic could cause you so much pain! OUCH! But this looks like such an amazing trip!


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