Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Year's Day at the California Adademy of Sciences, San Francisco


That's Munch standing in front of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Containing the Steinhart Aquarium, the Morrison Planetarium, and the Kimball Natural History Museum, the Academy of Sciences reopened almost a year ago after a major remodeling and we were looking forward to seeing it.
We had heard that the lines have been INCREDIBLY long even months after the reopening, so we made sure to get there nice and early.We also chose to visit on the morning of New Year's Day, hoping that the previous evening's celebrations would keep people home in bed a little longer. Thankfully, our hopes were realized and the museum was pleasantly uncrowded at least until lunchtime. Parking was super easy, with a new garage built under the Music Concourse that sits between the Academy of Sciences and the DeYoung Museum. Once we got inside, we split up briefly to pick up the free, first-come first-served, showtime tickets to the Planetarium and the special 3-D Bugs film that was currently running. With specific show-time tickets in hand, we then took our time exploring the museum. Our first stop was the African Hall in the Natural History Museum-upon entering it, I was immediately transported back to elementary school and the numerous field trips we took to the "old" Academy. Munch immediately bypassed all the life-size dioramas and headed straight to the African penguins at the back of the hall-that's her on AudioDad's shoulders.
We eventually got her to move on to the Madagascaar and Galapagos islands exhibit where Munch loved seeing the tortoises, lemurs and played a game, projected onto the floor, where she stomped around on piles of leaves and tried to catch bugs.My parents found the exhibit on the global effects of climate change really interesting. This was a display about everyday waste and reusable alternativesYou can check out my parents' collection of American-made reusable tote, lunch, and grocery bags at Clean Conscience Goods- some items are also available through amazon.com.
Next we moved on to the Steinhart Aquarium's section where we came to The Swamp, an old favorite from the original Academy, which now is inhabited by a creepy, ghostly-looking albino alligatorDownstairs, we LOVED the different jellyfish- these we adorably tiny, with short, squat tentacles and these anemone-looking upside-down jellyfish, which bury themselves into the ground Here's Munch and AudioDad standing the front of the massive curved wall of one of the tanks-

We had packed a picnic lunch for the day, in order to avoid the possible crowds in the Academy cafe (I HAD heard that their food was quite good). We headed out to a few benches in the Music Concourse, which gave Munch plenty of room to run and play after eating.After lunch, we headed back into the now-crowded museum to see the Planetarium show (it was incredible!), and visit the enclosed, domed, four-story rainforest which was filled with butterflies, a few birds, and lush greenery We also couldn't miss the hilly, window-spotted, "Living Roof" of the Academy before heading home for a family dinner.

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