California Academy of Sciences VIP Tour
Spend an hour behind the scenes learning more about the institution’s 160-year history and what it takes to house nearly 46 million specimens. Visit the research collections, not on view to the public, and develop an appreciation for our vast library of life, which includes amazing specimens from our ichthyology (fish), entomology (insects), and ornithology (birds) departments. From stepping out onto our living roof (weather permitting) to examining breathtaking geology specimens in our private vault, the Academy tour is sure to show you more of the museum than you ever knew existed.
• General Admission
• One-hour guided tour
• Behind-the-scenes access
• Express entry into the building
• VIP entrance to Osher Rainforest
• Reserved space in the Planetarium
• 10% discount in Academy dining and shopping venues
- One-hour guided tour
- Behind-the-scenes access
- Reserved space in the Planetarium
- 10% discount in Academy dining and shopping venues
- Entry/Admission - California Academy of Sciences
- Hotel pickup and drop-off
- Confirmation will be received at time of booking
- Guests must be age 8 or older to participate, and guests between the ages of 8 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Maximum of 14 people per tour
- Morrison Planetarium shows take place throughout the day; you will receive a reserved ticket to the show of your choice
- Wheelchair accessible; wheelchairs are available at Coat Check on a first-come, first-served basis
Definitely worth the time and money to see the behind-the-scene collection!
Word to the wise: book during work hours. Tell your boss you're sick or schedule some emergency dental work with a doctor who never keeps schedules, but going to the California Academy of Sciences for a Behind-the-Scenes Tour during work hours almost ensures that your tour group will be tiny, if not non-existent such as it was for me. Guided tours are awesome, but private guided tours are the best! My tour guide was Lee from Minnesota. Lee led me up to the living roof as in roof that has plants living on it, not roof with a couch and TV and tacky pictures of in-laws first and onto a part of the roof where no one else could go where she showed me the whale bones they were bleaching for preservation. Apparently, the California Academy of Sciences is part of a beached whale watch group and will travel for beached whales up and down 500 miles of California coastline. Everyone needs a hobby, yeah? From the roof, we went into the biology wing, where I let into both plant and mammal sample storage rooms. In 20 minutes' time, I saw and held samples from the original academy, saved by a scientist who ran into a burning building during the earthquake in 1906 and then walked through a hallway of ethanol-filled jars preserving mammals not for the squeamish. All throughout the tour, Lee peppered me with information not only about the science I was witness to, but also the history of the building and the practice of the academy. Technically not a museum, the research done at the academy disqualifies it from such a classification. Rather than just be interested in preservation, the scientists there ask where, when, how, and why about every what. To the person who watches a movie, play, or even magic trick and wonders, 'how,' this is the perfect tour. Five stars to Lee, five stars to the California Academy of Sciences, and five stars to the albino alligator who I'm pretty sure was named Frank.
Lots of fun with kids
Were somewhat disappointed in this tour, we had skip the line tickets which we had to present to the special desk at the left of the building which was un attended, we were told basically tough join the ordinary queue which was very long, we then approached a Manager who told us there was no such thing as Skip the Line, that was a Company name and did not mean we could skip the line. When we did eventually gain access our ticket included a trip to the Rainforest Exhibit which was closed, so we paid for two things we did not get!
I cannot say enough good things about the tour because it did allow us to enter places that most people weren't allowed to and we were shown things that were not commonly seen in public. It was interesting, informative, fun, and exciting. The pass for the tour also allowed us to get 10 off most everything in the museum including photos, food, and merchandise. Best yet, it allowed us to skip the line for the Rainforest and shows at the Planetarium. It was definitely worth the cost. The Academy itself is a lot of fun for both grown-ups and kids. The aquarium at the bottom level is most enchanting, and the butterfly garden in the Rainforest is mesmerizing. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to take a break doing the usual touristy stuff in San Francisco.