Rainy Day Activity: The California Academy of Sciences

Now that my son is out of the newborn stage, we have entered a new phase of exploration and play.  The park and beach are always great options to let him crawl around and check out new textures like sand, grass, sticks, and stones.  However, during the days plagued with wind and rain, I was at a loss for what activities we could do that would get us out of the house.  Some days, there are only so many stories you can read and songs you can sing! Then, one mother gave me a great tip that literally restored sanity to my life on bad weather days: The California Academy of Sciences, located in Golden Gate Park.  If you live in the Bay Area, I think this is a must try outting for families.  The Academy boasts that it is "the only museum in the world world with an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and rain forest."  Thus, it is a great space to walk around and explore some interesting wild life with  your kids.  The revolutionary design of the Academy is also conducive for a rainy day because everything is joined together under one roof, making it easy to stroll from the aquarium, to the rain forest, to the penguins.

So far, my son's favorite is the aquarium.  All the colorful, moving fish are fascinating, especially in the Coral Reef Tank.  We had so much fun during our first family trip to the Academy.  Miles was squeaking and squealing like crazy.  Somehow, my child always manages to be the loudest kid everywhere we go.  LOL.  Anyways, he had a blast investigating the aquarium tanks with his father.  During our visit to touch the sea stars he was so fascinated by the little creatures, that he decided to pick it up out of the water, and of course as babies will, he attempted to put it in his mouth. Yikes!  Embarrassing moment!!  Miles moves so fast, that we almost didn't save the sea star in time.  Needless to say, the touch and feel portion of our visit was cut a little bit short that day.

Since our first family visit, Miles and I have been back a few times on our own during rainy days.  Honestly, I think just about every mom in the city goes to the Academy on rainy days, because it is packed with moms and strollers!

Another fabulous feature of the Academy is the indoor play space for the little ones.   At only 8 months old, Miles is still a bit too young to run around and play with the other kids.  However, he loves the energy of the play area.  He is happy watching the other kids run and laugh, finding new toys to investigate, and reading books about animals.

The $30 per person price of admission is a bit steep, however, the Academy offers many options to work around this.  If you plan visiting more than once, a membership is a pretty good option.  We have an "Individual" membership, which gives you one membership and one guest admission each time you visit.  So, we only had to pay for one membership, but when my husband comes with Miles and I, it's free.  There are also San Francisco Neighborhood Free Days, where admission is free on certain days based on which San Fran neighborhood you live in.

Here are some pictures from our visit:


Now, although this post is about using the Academy on rainy days, it really is just as great on nice days, especially given its prime location in the Golden Gate Park.  We went again last weekend, and the weather was gorgeous.  My husband and I were able to grab a glass of white wine from the Academy Cafe and sit outside while Miles rolled around in the grass and watched the other children playing.  It was really a lovely day.  So, rain or shine, its a fabulous place to visit with your family, BUT, if you're desperate for an activity on a rainy day, I highly recommend this as an option.

California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park

San Francisco, ca 94118

(415) 379-8000