San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences, Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park

By Rachel Puryear

Want to check out a Planetarium with realistic virtual space travel, a giant rainforest dome, an aquarium, gorgeous gems from the Earth, a living roof, and tons of wildlife exhibits (many of which feature live animals and plant life)? The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has all of these, and it’s awesome – there’s a good reason it’s one of the most popular museums in the area. We just went there, and it’s bigger and better than ever. It’s a great place to go by yourself, with friends or partners, or with the family. Check out their website here.

If you want to go but are short on cash, check here for information about free days – although for now, these are on hold temporarily for this museum.

A Foucault Pendulum outside the Morrison Planetarium, inside the California Academy of Sciences.

If you’ve visited San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Park – which surrounds the California Academy of Sciences, you’ve enjoyed its stunning diversity of beauty and plant and wildlife. Of course, there’s probably more you haven’t seen, even if you’ve been there many times. If you haven’t been, you’re in for a real treat next time you’re visiting the City.

The park spans several blocks, and is nestled inside “The Avenues” (local nickname for the Sunset and Richmond neighborhoods, as the numbered avenues run from the innermost parts all the way to the beach).

One little gem inside the park is Stow Lake. If you like watching ducks, swans, and other water birds swim and mate, this is a great place to do it. On a foggy or sunny day, it’s a beauty – plus, there’s free all day parking on the streets nearby inside the park.

We parked easily and all day on the free side streets near Stow Lake and walked to the California Academy of Sciences from there, it’s a ten minute walk which takes you by Stow Lake on the way. Parking is also available at the museum garage, but it’s now $5.25 an hour – so walk a little, save a lot.

Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, with ducks swimming around.

If you visit the California Academy of Sciences, I recommend arriving at the start of the day. There’s a lot to see, and you want to allow plenty of time. Plus, crowds tend to be a little smaller then.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to science, and a deeper appreciation of our beautiful natural world.

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