California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences: Our most recommended tours and activities

San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

1. San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

Visit the world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The superb complex incorporates all 4 attractions under one living roof, with exhibits and shows that explain the universe! Don’t miss the African penguins – and 38,000 other live animals – at the California Academy of Sciences in the heart of Golden Gate Park, a must-see attraction in San Francisco. Rocket through the galaxy at the speed of light or journey deep into the oceans of the world as the Academy boldly brings life to life. Come face-to-face with snakes and piranhas, meet Claude the American alligator with albinism, and hang out with Pierre, Howard, Ocio, and the rest of the South African penguin colony. Stroll through the rainforest dome with its free-flying birds and butterflies and become immersed in the rainforests of Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica, and the flooded Amazon. Discover Borneo bats, chameleons, poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, gliders, snakes, and so much more. Catch the latest amazing digital planetarium show, taking you on a spectacular journey to the far reaches of the universe, held 7-10 times a day. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum housed under a living roof will inspire lifelong curiosity for the natural world as you experience the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and fly to the outer reaches of the universe.

San Francisco: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

2. San Francisco: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

Hop aboard a sightseeing bus for a tour of the City by the Bay and delve into the fascinating history of San Francisco and its legendary landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf. The hop-on-hop-off route stops at the main points of interest all around San Francisco.  Experience the diverse culture, beautiful parks, stunning architecture, and picturesque views from the top of an open-air sightseeing bus. Hop off anytime and create your customized itinerary at your leisure. Explore 3 routes depending on your ticket purchase and enjoy photo stops at the Golden Gate Bridge on each route. With the Classic (24-hour) ticket, enjoy the Hop-on Hop-off service at your leisure for a full day and try the bike rental offer and ride along San Francisco's stunning waterfront. The Premium (24-Hour) and Deluxe (48-hour) tickets allow you to venture out to see the daytime and evening views of San Francisco with the panoramic Night Tour. Additionally, the Deluxe (48-hour) ticket includes the option to choose from either a bike rental, or admission to the USS Pampanito. Take a deep dive into the history of a World War WWII submarine or cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. San Francisco City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Sit back and enjoy the ride as you cruise through the city on an open-top bus. Learn about the unique history of San Fransisco while passing through Chinatown, Union Square, Civic Center, and the Alamo Square.  Panoramic Night Tour Board the night bus to explore the dazzling city of San Francisco at nighttime. Climb the historic Nob Hill for a stunning close-up view of the magnificent Grace Cathedral. The Night Tour is included in the Premium (24-Hour) and Deluxe (48-Hour) Tickets. Then, make your way across the grand Bay Bridge for picturesque views of the city skyline from Treasure Island, the World Fair site in 1939. After heading back to the city, continue along the Embarcadero to view the glittering lights of the Port of San Francisco.

San Francisco: Go City All-Inclusive Pass 25+ Attractions

3. San Francisco: Go City All-Inclusive Pass 25+ Attractions

The San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass is an all-access sightseeing pass that offers the ultimate in convenience, cost savings, and flexibility for visitors to the Bay Area. Customers choose 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7-day passes at a low, pre-paid price. Use the pass to gain access to any and all of the 25+ included attractions, saving up to 55% off compared to full retail admissions. The California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, Exploratorium, bay cruises, theme parks and rides, bike rental, and much more are all included! See below for the complete list. The free digital guide helps you decide what to do, where to go, and how to get there. With the San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, you’ll spend your time in the Bay Area collecting memories instead of credit card receipts. Attractions and activities included with the San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass: Tours and Cruises • Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off San Francisco: 1-day Classic Tour • Escape from the Rock - Cruise around Alcatraz • San Francisco Bay Cruise • Scenic Golden Gate Bridge Bike Tour • Go Car San Francisco 30-min Rental • One All-Day Comfort Bike Rental by Blazing Saddles • Golden Gate Bridge Bike Tour • Fisherman's Wharf Walking Tour • Tiled Steps Urban Hiking Tour • Golden Gate Park Bike Rental by Unlimited Biking Museums and Places of Interest • Aquarium of the Bay • Exploratorium • Madame Tussauds • California Academy of Sciences • The Walt Disney Family Museum • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom • The Flyer - San Francisco's Flying Theater • California's Great America • San Francisco Zoo & Gardens • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) • Legoland Discovery Center • de Young Museum and Legion of Honor • USS Pampanito • Asian Art Museum • USS Hornet Museum • The Contemporary Jewish Museum • The Beat Museum • California Historical Society Attractions and tours are subject to change. Check your included digital guide for an up-to-date attraction line-up including opening times and instructions on how to access each attraction with your pass before you go.

GoCar 3-Hour Tour of San Francisco's Parks and Beaches

4. GoCar 3-Hour Tour of San Francisco's Parks and Beaches

Let a GPS-guided, talking GoCar be your guide through the beaches and city parks of San Francisco during this 3-hour tour. GoCar lets you experience the beauty of San Francisco and visit places tour buses cannot go – all at your own pace. Zip around in a cute, yellow, storytelling GoCar as it takes you on your own GPS-guided tour. The GoCar is easy and fun to drive and, since it's GPS-guided, the car knows where you are – even if you don't. With you in the driver's seat, it not only tells you where to turn, it tells stories that bring San Francisco to life. Let GoCar guide you to San Francisco's lesser-known beaches such as China Beach and Baker Beach, infamous for a deadly shark attack. Wind past the Cliff House as you descend the cliffs, opening up the dramatic expanse of Ocean Beach. Next, you can visit famous Golden Gate Park and all its attractions, including live buffalo, the Japanese Tea Garden, the M. H. de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Conservatory of Flowers. If you are a fan of the 1960s and 70s, you can extend your tour to Haight-Ashbury, made famous by Janis Joplin, the Grateful dead, and Jefferson Airplane during the Summer of Love.

California Academy of Sciences Thursday NightLife Admission

5. California Academy of Sciences Thursday NightLife Admission

Visit the world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-natural history museum at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Enjoy all 4 attractions under one living roof, with exhibits and shows that explain the universe. Explore these exhibits and more during Thursday’s festive 21+ only NightLife event, and sip on a beer, wine, or unique specialty cocktail available for purchase at the bars throughout the museum. Once in the museum, catch the latest spectacular digital planetarium show and rocket through the galaxy at the speed of light to the far reaches of the universe. Journey deep into the oceans of the world in the aquarium. Come face-to-face with snakes and piranhas, meet Claude the albino alligator, and hang out with a South African penguin colony. Stroll through the rainforest dome with its free-flying birds and butterflies. Each week features a unique theme, blending fun with science in an informal social environment. Past highlights have included pop-up art galleries; science-themed comedy; sustainable seafood cooking demonstrations; and talks by notable figures like Buzz Aldrin. Academy scientists are also on-hand to discuss the “science love stories” behind their infatuations with spiders, sea slugs, parasites, and other fascinating topics. During summer months, the Academy presents NightLife LIVE, a music series featuring emerging bands and musicians live on an outdoor garden stage, cutting-edge art installations, and hands-on science demonstrations.

San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Golden Gate Bay Cruise

6. San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Make your way around San Francisco with a 24-hour hop-on hop-off bus ticket. Hop off to explore the city's best highlights or stay on the double decker to enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of the city for two hours. Combine your ticket with a 1-hour Golden Gate Bay Cruise to sail around the famous San Francisco Bay. Golden Gate Bay Cruise Arrive at Fisherman's Wharf and look for the red and white colors of the "Red & White Fleet" to find your boat. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach and take advantage of the bar onboard with drinks, snacks, and merchandise. Admire the famous swimming clubs of the Aquatic Park and the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier. Enjoy idyllic views of Crissy Field and The Presidio of San Francisco before the stunning image of the Golden Gate Bridge comes into view. Cruise straight under the bridge as the sun shines and waves lap against the boat. Travel past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands to reach the shores of Sausalito, once home to the Flower Children. With Angel Island State Park to your left, finish your cruise outside the infamous Alcatraz prison. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Exchange your voucher at any of the bus stops and get ready to discover the city of San Francisco. Discover local parks and architecture as you listen to the digital commentary, available in 10 languages. The route of the hop-on hop-off bus includes stops at iconic landmarks from Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Golden Gate Bridge, and Little Italy. This flexible approach to sightseeing allows you to enjoy your day at your own pace.

San Francisco: Golden Gate Park Private Segway Tour

7. San Francisco: Golden Gate Park Private Segway Tour

Experience Golden Gate Park from a different perspective on a private Segway tour. Glide through the urban park by personal transporter, and stop to spend time at its many treasures. Get a fascinating commentary through a compact single earbud sound system as you follow the designated trails. Journey along streets of light traffic at low speed for your comfort and safety. First, benefit from a personal, 1-to-1, 30 to 35-minute safety briefing to ensure you feel confident on the self-balancing vehicles. Then, set off to discover the many landmarks, museums and gardens of Golden Gate Park, such as the Japanese Tea Garden, Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory of Flowers. Encounter hidden gems along the way! Golden Gate Park is larger than New York's Central Park, and once consisted of sand dunes now covered with more than 75,000 trees. The 7-mile (11.2-kilometer) route you will take explores the eastern section of the 1,017-acre (411-hectare) park. See highlights such as the De Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Music Concourse and Temple of Music, Lily Pond and much more. Experience the beauty of the park’s trees, flowers and plants as you traverse the winding trails and bike paths past sites such as the Fern Grotto, San Francisco Botanical Gardens and Rose, Rhododendron and Dahlia Gardens.

Golden Gate Park: Full-Day Self-Guided Bike Tour

8. Golden Gate Park: Full-Day Self-Guided Bike Tour

On this full-day self-guided bike tour you’ll ride through the historic Haight Ashbury neighborhood, once home to peace, love, and the Grateful Dead! Check out the gorgeous Victorian homes you’ll see throughout the area before heading into Golden Gate Park. Inside the thousand-plus acre park, the opportunities are endless. Visit the Conservatory of Flowers, Arboretum/Botanical Gardens, Shakespeare Garden, and Japanese Tea Gardens. Lock up your bike and visit 2 world-class museums, the California Academy of Sciences and the DeYoung, before circling around Stow Lake. Head to the beach, and ride along the oceanfront bike path. Real adventurers can continue on to the zoo before heading back past the Bison paddock and Spreckels Lake. Other options include riding north along the coast by the Cliff House, Sutro Baths, and Land’s End to the Golden Gate Bridge. You could decide to explore Alamo Square, the Civic Center area, the Mission, and the Castro. You’ll ride with maps mounted on the handlebars, clearly detailing 3 different routes to choose from! 

San Fancisco: Golden Gate Park Surrey Rental

9. San Fancisco: Golden Gate Park Surrey Rental

Pedal through the designated surrey route in the majestic Golden Gate Park. Your two-person surrey will fit two adults and one or two small children in the front child seats, and the four-person surrey will fit four adults and one or two small children in the front child seats. You'll enjoy your hour-long surrey rental by traveling on a designated route in Golden Gate Park. Starting from the music concourse, you'll ride down JFK drive, passing the botanical gardens and Japanese Tea Garden and exploring the beauty this 1,000-acre park has to offer. Later, circle around the Stow Lake Boathouse, where you can see boaters paddling and birds nestling by the lake. The ride concludes past the museums back inside the Golden Gate Park. Particular points of interest that you will encounter include Kezar Stadium, Sharon Meadow, the Conservatory of Flowers, the California Academy of Flowers, the Shakespeare Gardens, the De Young Museum, and the Stow Lake Boathouse.

San Francisco City Tour Small Group Half-Day

10. San Francisco City Tour Small Group Half-Day

Enjoy a glimpse into the culture and diversity of San Francisco's many districts with a comprehensive panoramic tour of the city. See the contrast between towering buildings and wild nature in the city that houses people from fishermen and winemakers to software engineers and financiers. Get picked up from your hotel and start your journey in the central square of the city, Union Square. Take in the elegant City Hall building and the impressive Public Library. Drive past the headquarters of the legendary Levi Strauss Company and hear how the Gold Rush is associated with jeans. Ride through diverse neighborhoods, including Haight-Ashbury, the birthplace of the hippies; the Castro, where LGBT people live; and the wealthy Sea Cliff and Richmond. Explore the world’s largest Chinatown and the Italian Quarter to learn why the Church of Peter and Paul is so remarkable. Enjoy the chance to come across sea lions at Pier 39 and take a walk along the chic promenade of the Marina area, reaching Park Presidio. Stand on the Land’s End, where daylight ends on the American continent, and take a photo overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. During your trip, you will also pass by other famous sites, such as Sutro Heights Botanical Garden, Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, Lombard Street, Transamerica, California Academy of Sciences, Twin Peaks, and Alamo Square. Finally be dropped off back at your hotel.

  • Entry tickets
  • Guided tours
  • City cards
  • Hop-on hop-off tours
  • Private tours
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What people are saying about California Academy of Sciences

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 1,327 reviews

With the audio guide you could also follow the tour in German. Very informative. Really recommended. Attention: when it comes to cancellation, GYG is not at all insightful and remains stubborn. You remain at your own expense.

A great tour to get an overall impression of the city. With the information on individual stations, we learned a lot that we had not yet read about.

It was such a nice way to get a flavor for the city and decide which spots you wanted to investigate more fully.

Great experience. Wear warm clothing if weather is cool.

great way to see all the areas of the city efficiently