Thursday, February 10, 2011

Travel Thursdays - California Academy of Sciences at the Golden Gate Park - a travelog

Galapagoc Turtles, Conch snail, Glass Fish, Alligator Gars, Can you see the snake?, Rainforest butterfly, African Safari, Albino Alligator, Burmese Vine Snake (and my camera reflected!), Living Roof
Our first visit to the newly renovated (actually not so newly now since the renovation was completed in 2009) Academy of Sciences museum was a wonderful success. Many things joined to make this trip a success. One, we went on Dec 24th and I guess most people were home getting ready for the big day which meant it was not very crowded. Two, we went with friends of ours which meant that the kids had company and we had 2 more adults to help us take care of things. Three, the museum is spectacular!
We reached the museum around 11 am. There is lots of parking in the paid parking lot which leads to the various museums in the park but do be aware that it is expensive – we realized it at the end of the day when we shelled out $30 for a few hours of parking. You could park along the streets leading into the park as well free or for a lower parking fee.
African Safari/Madagascar/Galapagos: A gigantic t-rex (reminiscent of Jurassic Park) skeleton greets visitors as you enter the museum. On the advice of our friends who had visited there before, we picked up tickets for the next available planetarium show. Once we had that, we toured the African Safari that has remarkably life-like displays of the African wildlife including a cheetah on a treetop above you – so look out for it. The penguins (which are live and not displays) are adorable with their antics and my DD spent all her time watching them while her older brother walked around reading about all the animals there. We then explored the wonders of Madagascar and Galapagos islands. A wonderful quote by Charles Darwin (who else!) and appropriate one here is inscribed on a large section of the floor and says - “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” This section of the museum contains a Foucault pendulum where you could spend the whole day just waiting to see the pieces fall and watching the earth spin (not literally, but watching the proof that the earth spins on its axis). Giant photographs show the birth and history of earth and life on earth on one wall and kids can spend time stomping out virtual bugs on the floor while learning concepts of camouflage.
Planetarium: The planetarium show, next on our list, was awesome. The show we watched was ‘Life: A Cosmic Story’ – fascinating peek into how life began on earth. I have to admit that though the show was fantastic, the darkened dome and the soothing sounds/voices of the movie put me to sleep for a few minutes during the show! All in all, not to be missed!
Cafe : Our next stop was for lunch at the café. Food is organic, international, a little pricey but wonderful. We picked up veggie pot stickers, some steamed broccoli, fries and they were gone in a matter of minutes.
Climate change and its impact, the reasons why it is happening are always a concern for me. Seeing it here in the various informative exhibits made it even grimmer and me more conscious of what we do.  The Rainforest exhibit was next and a delight to our eyes. An explosion of warmth, color surrounded us here. When a butterfly got too close to me, I embarrassed my little ones by a squeak – there was a warning sign that said ‘do not touch the butterflies’ and my concern was. “Well, what if this one touched me? :-)”
Aquarium: The aquarium and the albino alligator followed. We are regulars at the Monterey Bay Aquarium but the aquarium here has its own wonders (glassfish, alligator gars, upside down jellyfish and more) and is a must-see.
Living Roof: We ended our trip by going to the sustainable living roof (right out of Teletubbies or Lord of the Rings) which is beautiful and offers a nice view of the Golden Gate Park as well.
Tips: Try going on weekdays to avoid crowds (avoid Free Wednesdays too). Get the tickets to the planetarium show on arriving. You can take your food with you and eat there in the various tables they have set around in the patio area where they also have performances or at the café. Park in the roadside and walk a little more if you want to avoid the parking fees.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds absolutely fantastic! If I'm ever in the SF area, I'll be sure to see it. (Actually, your post has made me want to go right now, but that would be a little tricky!)


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