/ San Francisco Traveler
San Francisco — By Abbie Mood on February 25, 2010 at 7:40 pm
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Four Reasons to Visit the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a place that “brings the whole universe under one roof” by housing an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a 4-story rainforest all under one “living” roof.  Originally opened over 155 years ago, the new Academy while potentially being the greenest museum on earth with the 2 1/2 acre living roof, a solar canopy, a water reclamation system, and walls insulated with recycled blue jeans.

Not just a museum, the mission of the academy is to “explore, explain and protect the natural world” by supporting 46 world-class scientists and hundreds of researchers in 11 fields of study, working in classrooms with teachers and their students.  As if that isn’t enticing enough, here are four reasons why this isn’t your average museum.

1.  Steinhart Aquarium

Over 38,000 animals live in the aquarium, representing more than 900 ocean species in 6 different exhibits.  Exhibits include the Philippine Coral Reef, the Northern California Coast tank, the Amazon Basin, the African penguin tank, the Water Planet tank, and The Swamp.

Don’t miss:  The Philippine Coral Reef is one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world, reaching a depth of 25 feet. It houses soft and hard corals, blacktip reef sharks, stingrays, and more than 2,000 colorful reef fish from the coral reefs and mangroves of one of the most diverse reef systems in the world.

2.  Kimball Natural History Museum

The exhibits of the Kimball Natural History Museum address two of the biggest scientific issues of our time, the evolution of life and the maintenance of life on Earth. The exhibits (African Hall, Islands of Evolution, Climate Change in California, Science in Action, and the Foucault pendulum) were created from the Academy’s research, 20 million specimens, and information from scientists.

Don’t miss: The giant T-Rex skeleton at the entrance.

3.  4-story Rainforest

The largest spherical rainforest exhibit in the world is encased in a 90 foot dome, home to 1,600 live animals, and includes a 100,000 “Flooded Forest” Amazon Basin tank.

Don’t miss: It’s easy to get distracted by the unique animals, but don’t miss the forest itself – plants include trees such as the Brazilian beautyleaf and West Indies mahogany, and the Theobrama cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made.

4.  Morrison Planetarium

The largest all-digital planetarium in the world, the Morrison Planetarium features two shows daily, the Journey to the Stars and Fragile Planet.

Don’t miss: “Tours of the Universe,” which will include live NASA feeds.

For more information or to order tickets online visit Calacademy.org.

The California Academy of Science is located at 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco (map).  Phone: (415) 379-8000.

Photo Credit: jametiks @Flickr

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