The California Academy of Sciences is literally alive, evident by the green patches on its “living roof.” The environmentally friendly building houses 26 million specimens, from insects to albino alligators, making it one of the largest natural history museums in the world. With as many as half a million visitors per year, it’s also one of San Francisco’s top family attractions.
Founded in 1874 in its original downtown location, the California Academy of Sciences is now permanently located inside Golden Gate Park across from the de Young Museum. The building was reconstructed in 2008 and houses a rainforest, a planetarium, an aquarium and numerous interactive science exhibits. While kid-friendly during the day, the museum hosts an adults-only evening party every Thursday called NightLife, and event complete with cocktails, food and themed entertainment.