Found by the entrance – just as beautiful as any exhibit …
So raining it is … It’s not like London, the forecast pretty much does what it says here, so I packed the day pack and frog marched the boys off to a museum. If the truth be told, I’m not really into museums, but I know that Ben in particular loves them…. I survived the San Jose Museum of Tech (which did have some pretty cool bits), and got through the Star Wars exhibition that I know Pete was secretly coveting, but couldn’t get the day off work for.. In any case couldn’t be worse than 3 hours on the USS Midway in San Diego (mega aircraft carrier with lots and lots of planes and navy stuff which all boys LOVED!)… I didn’t really read what was in the museum, I just thought it would be science stuff, and Ben would be in boy heaven. Imagine my surprise when Pete informs me its got rain forests, a planetarium, an aquarium and a garden ROOF you can walk on … suddenly a bit more interesting.
We made SF in record time (less than 20 mins) and drove through the Golden Gate Park to get to the Museum. Parked in the road outside, and sat down for our first ‘show’ within an hour of leaving home all good so far… It was a snake show, which was quite interesting, and gave me a chance to sit down and recover (from the strain of getting everyone out of the house on time!) What was really nice was the design of the museum, with real in-door shallow reef, swamp lands and a rain forest dome. The reef exhibits have stunning fish so close you could almost touch them. Not totally sure about the stuffed animals though, but we loved the exhibition about the evolution of skulls. We were on familiar ground in the rain forest as it had a floor for Borneo, Costa Rica and Madagascar (our favourite adventure holidays!) … Ok so it was a bit tame compared to the real thing, but if you have never been to a real rain forest it would be pretty amazing, and we loved the fact you had to get checked out before you left the exhibit for stray butterflies!
We loved the inter active stands where you could chat to volunteers, and see mini-experiments – it was great to learn more about earthquakes, and understand a bit more about the reality of why I have stashed a pack of food in our broom cupboard! (other than being told to in our tenancy agreement). They had lots of cool maps showing the earthquakes in the last 30 days in the bay area… A few more than I would ideally like!
The aquarium was really beautiful, and the boys loved the white alligator (had to explain to B it was not plastic!)….
By far and away the best bit of the day for me (apart from lunch from the cafe, which was really very good, with nice gluten free options!) was the Planatarium. The California Academy of Sciences apparently has the world’s largest digital planetarium. We watched a 30 min presentation on ancient light, which was really good. I now finally understand what dark matter and dark energy are, and the planetarium experience was outstanding …. we were only just wishing it wasn’t quite so comfortable as Pete nodded off, and I was struggling to keep my eyes open, as it was all very soporific!
So all in all, I would recommend it as a day out, a bit pricey but a really nice sized museum, not too daunting size wise and something for everyone. More interesting for adults than the Exploratoreum, and think the kids (aged 10 & 8) enjoyed it just as much. Came away happy, and all of us learned something new which can’t be bad!
Here’s the link if you fancy going! http://www.calacademy.org