California Academy of Sciences (credit: Randy Yagi)

The California Academy of Sciences is home to Steinhart Aquarium, one of the world’s most fascinating, beautiful and critical marine habitats you will ever explore. One of the most biologically diverse and interactive aquariums, it is home to an amazing estimated 40,000 animals, covering more than 900 different species. A true original, the Steinhart Aquarium first opened in 1923 in Golden Gate Park and was the model for many public aquariums that followed its lead. Today’s Steinhart Aquarium continues in a tradition as leader in providing insight into the significant mission aquatic environments have on planet Earth.

(credit: Arturo Riera/KPIX 5)

Steinhart Aquarium
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 379-8000

If you are looking for a terrific destination for a family outing, then look no further than Steinhart Aquarium. One of several highlights inside the California Academy of Sciences set in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Steinhart Aquarium is a premiere environment that will amaze everyone in the family from the little ones to their grandparents. As one of the world’s most interactive aquariums, its awesome role in aquatic life can’t be beat. An estimated 40,000 animals that represent more than 900 distinct species make Steinhart Aquarium their home. The breadth of wonder that exists at the Steinhart Aquarium is absolutely amazing. If you thought aquariums were just about fish, well think again. Visit, learn about, and enjoy these living exhibits: Animal Attraction, Philippine Coral Reef Gallery, Northern California Coast Gallery, Discovery Tidepool, Water Planet Gallery, Rainforest of the World Gallery, Swamp Gallery, and Tusher African Hall, all within Steinhart Aquarium.

Animal Attraction

Want to see something special? Come over to the Animal Attraction gallery and explore some of the most unique courtship and mating approaches you will ever see. No ordinary meeting and mating rituals, but some pretty outrageous, though successful, strategies are on display. Banana slugs, praying mantises, shrimp and more pursue a mate to keep the species alive in the Academy’s very own Sea of Love.

Philippine Coral Reef

Steinhart Aquarium’s Philippine Coral Reef exhibit welcomes visitors to one of Earth’s most incredibly beautiful and fragile marine ecosystems, known as the center of marine biodiversity. The Philippine Coral Reef tank is 25 feet deep and holds 212,000 gallons, making it one of the largest displays of living coral in the world.

California Coast

You already know the incredible beauty of California’s famed coastline, so all the better to learn more at California Coast, as visitors explore the astounding richness of our coastal waters, its fascinating underwater residents and the spectacular Northern California Coast region.

Discovery Tidepool

One of the most delightful exhibits ever is the Discovery Tidepool. Here nature’s hardy sea creatures endure ocean variables and live submerged at high tides but are exposed to sun and wind elements at low tide. Discovery Tidepool visitors can get up close to animals living in this constant in-flux environment. Explore the touch-tank invertebrates and play an interactive game to test your level of species identification skills.

Osher Rainforest

Enter the dome to see an incredible neotropical rainforest that stretches 90 feet above. A spiral path takes you through three levels of rainforest ecosystems to encounter some of the animals that make these forests their home.

Tusher African Hall

Explore the human species’ evolutionary history, as you cannot imagine. It began around seven million years ago in Africa and continues to unfold. Trace our species’ milestones at Human Odyssey, where you will examine skull casts from early hominid species. Learn about animals too and their species’ survival through the ages.

The Swamp

Home to the Academy’s most famous resident, Claude the astonishingly white alligator, the Swamp is also home to an array of other underwater creatures. Stop by and get introduced to them all.

Water Planet

Get up close and personal to explore dramatic connections between water and life. An ever-changing band of fish, insects, reptiles and other animals are all here organized by their adaptations to water.

Shark Lagoon

Check out a different story from Jaws, as you learn about the plight of tens of millions of sharks killed every year just for their fins. Academy scientists and others with tons of knowledge will tell you all about it at the webcam shown here every Tuesday.

Sleepover At The Aquarium

Kids will never forget some of the wildest sleepovers ever in several Aquarium locations. The Penquins+Pajamas Sleepovers include Planetarium showings, live animal demonstrations, late-night snack and breakfast, overnight parking, next-day Academy admission and a group photo with new friends (children five to 17 years; $89/members, $109/non-members), one adult chaperon at least 25 years old for every group of up to five children. Check complete information here.

The Academy of Sciences, along with Steinhart Aquarium and Morrison Planetarium offer a slew of events, exhibits, activities, tours, lectures and workshops, and NightLife for the 21 and over crowd. Visit the website and start to explore.

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art, culture and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. Her work can be found at