The California Academy of Sciences

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California Academy of Sciences from the De Young Tower

Let me geek out here for a bit. It’s goin to happen. It has in the past. While I was in San Francisco I was able to visit the California Academy of Sciences and it was AWESOME! I may be a bit of a science nerd and this place is just cool in terms of design too. Michele was happy to go check it out one morning so we headed over just before the doors opened to get in line.

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We started with the lower level aquarium. The snakes were right at the base of the stair and freaky as usual. Never my favorite. The anaconda was following people.
By MB
not an anaconda, but still following people. By Michele

The coral reef and tropical fish were beautiful. I think I could have sat in front of one of those windows for quite a while. The jelly fish were cool and I had to touch a starfish.
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The most interesting character down there was an albino alligator. He just hung out while people took picture after picture of him.
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Meet Claude

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By Michele

Next we went up to see the penguin feeding. So damn cute.  This was Michele’s favorite part I think. Being the polite adult that I am, I allowed those with kids to sit up front and listened to the biologist talk about the what was happening, facts about the colony and individual penguins, etc. I should have become a biologist. Next life.
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I am a huge fan of planetariums, so we grabbed tickets when we arrived for a showing of Fragile Planet. It was one of their older films, so it wasn’t loaded with new information, but it was still interesting. I need to go to the local planetarium more often.

We briefly wandered through the dioramas, though they have never been a huge draw to me. We also checked out the exhibits on color in nature, earthquakes and whales. The Whales exhibit happened to be the same one I saw in New York a few years ago before moving.  Small world.

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Our last major exhibit was the rain forest. We had a short wait in line before being admitted into a large, sealed, climate controlled biosphere. It is full of trees, birds, butterflies, frogs and fish in the water below. It was gorgeous and our main focus became trying to catch a picture of the beautiful butterflies with blue on the backs of its wings.
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Can you see the blue butterfly!?

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At the top where you exit, we went out to the native rooftop garden. The garden is lovely and has a great view. It is here that I will switch into architecture mode. The spheres of the planetarium and biosphere  pop up and help create the undulating hills that cover the roof top. They are spotted with round skylights, some of which open to help regulate the interior climate.  It’s just a really cool space. The interiors too. There is a ton of natural light and space was planned well. I really enjoyed wandering through it.
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If you are in San Francisco, I highly recommend checking the academy out. Give yourself at least a half a day, if not more. It is so interesting and  worth the time and cost. I would get there early if you can, we were told it sells out sometimes. Plus our first hour or so, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it became later.  I fully intend to check it out again.

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