We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Which museum to visit in San Francisco

Mullica Hill, New...
Level Contributor
41 posts
40 reviews
Save Topic
Which museum to visit in San Francisco

Will be traveling around the central coast in June, 2014 with 17 year old son. I was sure I wanted to visit Monterey Aquarium but after reading some information and reviews, I am not so sure. We have a couple good aquariums here in the East. My question is about San Francisco museums - which one do the destination experts think is better (keeping in mind a 17 year old) - the Exploratorium or the California Academy of Sciences? I'm leaning toward Exploratorium but would love some input. Thanks.

Mentioned in this post
Monterey
Monterey
Monterey County, CA
San Francisco
San Francisco
California
Exploratorium
Exploratorium
3,051 Reviews
San Francisco, CA
California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of...
5,338 Reviews
San Francisco, CA
Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
29,582 posts
6,175 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

Not sure what your own personal interests are.

Exploratorium is more hands on - water front and fun.

California Academy of Sciences is a good museum in stellar Golden Gate Park - but usually it takes at least 4 to 5 hours just to see the surface (and longer if you take in the shows). Its in a good location and quite good.

Monterey Aquarium - absolutely excellent and you might have aquariums but not as good as this one....

and not as spectacular of a setting. Wish Ripleys in Toronto had been open in Toronto when we were there October 2013 as it sounded like the only Eastern one in either canada or US even remotely close to this one/.

So 3 great choices - and if you are in San Francisco, the only 2 really to visit is the Exploratorum or CAS.

Monterey is a 3 hour or less drive south...and its a great place for an overnight to see Point Lobos, the aquarium and Big Sur.

So you decide - any of the 3 are great.

Edited: 14 November 2013, 23:43
Mentioned in this post
Exploratorium
Exploratorium
3,051 Reviews
San Francisco, CA
California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of...
5,338 Reviews
San Francisco, CA
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
8,479 Reviews
San Francisco, CA
Monterey
Monterey
Monterey County, CA
Toronto
Toronto
Ontario, Canada
San Francisco
San Francisco
California
Big Sur
Big Sur
California
Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
Level Contributor
57,069 posts
431 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

Disney!!

http://www.waltdisney.org/

Or maybe the Maritime.

http://www.maritime.org/index.htm

I'd also walk around the Lucas Films property in the Presidio.

http://www.lucasfilm.com/inside/faq/

Mentioned in this post
Presidio Inn & Suites
Presidio Inn & Suites
220 Reviews
San Francisco, CA
Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
4,974 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

You have to appreciate that the CAS is so much, much more than an aquarium. I can spend countless hours in there.

Down Under
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
7,728 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

I would stick with the Monterey Aquarium. I'm sort of bored with Aquariums having seen so many around the world but in my opinion the Monterey Aquarium is great___well worh a visit.

I was a little underwhelmed with the CAS after the reopening. If I had to choose from the two you mentioned for a 17 year old I would go for the new Exploratorium.

Scotts suggestions are well worth a look also.

Mentioned in this post
Monterey
Monterey
Monterey County, CA
Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
23,311 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

My husband is an aquarium enthusiast (both as a hobby and professionally). We have traveled around the world to different aquaria. There is nothing in the world like Monterey as it is very specific to the local ecosystems. The Boston and Camden NJ ones are good too but does not have the CA coast specific displays.

However, it you have limited time, you can explore the area's unique ecosystems differently. You can consider kayaking in Monterey Bay itself or at Elkhorn Slough. You will be on top of the kelp bed, close to sea otters, shore birds etc. Monterey is home to the otter rescue and rehab program: pbs.org/wnet/…

Edited: 15 November 2013, 00:25
Mentioned in this post
Monterey
Monterey
Monterey County, CA
Monterey Bay
Monterey Bay
2,453 Reviews
Monterey, CA
San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
19,317 posts
76 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

>>as it is very specific to the local ecosystems. <<

This is exactly what I was going to say, this is specifically an aquarium of Monterey Bay. You learn what lives and goes on under the surface of the bay that you see outside. The jellyfish exhibit is an exception, but is also exceptionally beautiful.

The California Academy is a full natural history museum -- aquarium, rain forest exhibit (walking through butterflies and birds), planetarium, earthquake simulator, penguin exhibit, even the old-school stuffed-animal tableaux. Oh, and an albino alligator.

And definitely consider Elkhorn Slough.. if you don't want to kayak, there's a boat cruise which I did recently for the first (but not last) time. Saw literally dozens of species and thousands of birds.

Mentioned in this post
California
California
United States
San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,629 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

I agree with Oskar, I'm a bit underwhelmed by the Academy. And it's become overrun with young kids and the noise level is almost intolerable (I can handle 90 minutes in there and that's it). Fortunately I have a couple of friends who are members because the place is ridiculously expensive.

I don't know anyone who doesn't like the Exploratorium but their entry fee has hiked since they moved. But check Goldstar. Evidently, the price hike hasn't helped them and discounts can be found.

I have not been to the Disney Family Museum but I have heard good things.

Mentioned in this post
Exploratorium
Exploratorium
3,051 Reviews
San Francisco, CA
Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
29,582 posts
6,175 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

Elkhorn Slough is good - however.

There are similar type adventures on the East Coast...of course with East Coast versus West Coast sea life.

as I think it sounds like you are short on time and thus prioritizing.

If you had plenty of time its a fine place to go.

for the link to it

http://www.elkhornslough.org/

and then many have lunch at Phil's fish Market Nearby

http://www.philsfishmarket.com/

It would make for a very full but busy day to do the early morning Elkhorn Slough, Lunch, and then afternoon at the aquarium.

Edited: 15 November 2013, 00:46
Dublin, California
Level Contributor
22,618 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

What no art lovers? There are several excellent art museums in SF with current shows.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
29,582 posts
6,175 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Which museum to visit in San Francisco

Art lovers yes - but look at the OP question and teen age boys and what they are deciding between....

Have a good day Thanksocialsecurity...