A lot of people think science museums are boring and really, they couldn’t be further from the truth- at least when it comes to San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences. Under one glorious roof, you get to travel through dimensions of time, going back to the beginnings of earth and mankind, and you get to travel the world via exotic animals and spectacular coral reefs.

I recently paid another visit to the museum to take a look at one of their new exhibits- the Philippine Coral Reefs. For nearly an hour, I sat mesmerized by the gorgeous array of brightly colored fish, some chasing each other like they were starring in Finding Nemo while others swam gently about their own business.

As described by the Academy… “At a depth of 25 feet and holding 212,000 gallons of water, the Philippine Coral Reef is one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world. It houses a broad range of aquatic life from the coral reefs and mangroves of the Philippines, one of the most diverse reef systems in the world. These animals include delicate soft and hard corals, blacktip reef sharks, stingrays and more than 2000 colorful reef fish.”

While the new Philippine Coral Reef Exhibit is reason enough to visit the Academy, there is an entire universe to discover and explore. The Planetarium always puts on a spectacular, awe-inspiring show that manages to educate without being boring. Of course, I do have a soft spot for the giant dome since that was one of my first ever school field trips in first grade.

Get lost in the maze of underwater exhibits or come up close and personal with anacondas, creepy crawlies and poisonous frogs. Experience an earthquake first hand with the Academy’s earthquake simulator or walk through a tropical rainforest (one of my personal favorites) where the heat, scents, birds, butterflies and other creatures from the wild will transport you to faraway lands.

Get out of the mind frame that a science museum is just for boring class field trips or nerds and geeks. If you’re ever searching for the perfect, most appropriate and meaningful gift to give to children or adults with a keen interest in science, nature and the world at large, gift tickets to San Francisco’s awesome Science Museum. Give them the gift of discovery, wondrous beauty, knowledge and perspective on humanity’s place in the universe. 

The treasure that the California Academy of Sciences is makes for an awesome and unusual daytime date for intelligent couples, a great family outing and as aforementioned, always a winning gift for children. 

And don’t miss the albino alligator by the front- he just may smile at you.

California Academy of Sciences Website