55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Rainforest will be closed Sep. 9 & 10


NightLife at the Academy

Every Thursday night a new adventure unfolds.  Set out with friends on a journey to the stars and to the depths of the sea with a cocktail in your hand and wonder in your eyes— only at NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences.  21+, ID required for entry. 6-10 pm (Exhibit times vary)

#BayAreaBold NightLife

#BayAreaBold NightLife

Presented by The San Francisco Foundation
Music by MOM DJs
21+ event, 6:00-10:00 pm

The San Francisco Foundation has helped launch bold ideas since 1948—and you could say they have a serious love affair with the Bay Area. This week, NightLife partners with The San Francisco Foundation to salute the Bay Area’s boldest with a buzzworthy line-up of storytellers, music, and fun.


"Bay Area Love Stories" Presented by Porchlight
in African Hall (Level 1)
7:00 & 8:00 pm, Join us to celebrate the brightest minds and biggest ideas in our own backyard and gather around to hear captivating Bay Area love stories from poet and playwright Chinaka Hodge, writer Hiya Swanhuyser, musician Thao Nguyen, Anthony Bedard, Dana Merwin, and John Reichmuth presented by Porchlight. With music by Carletta Sue Kay.

Screen Printing & Treat Machine in the Piazza (Level 1)
6:00-10:00 pm, Do you consider yourself a know-it-all local? Test out your local knowledge while playing "Two Truths and a Lie" with a human-powered treat machine by The Bold Italic—start studying up by following #BayAreaBold.

Show off your smarts and win prizes like exclusive t-shirts designed by The Bold Italic, temporary tattoos, tickets to local events, and more. 

San Franpsycho will offer on-the-spot screen printing, so bring your favorite t-shirt or canvas tote to get adorned!

The MOM DJs will spin a funky selection of retro hits, providing the perfect soundtrack to sip craft cocktails—what Bay Area event would be complete without them?

"Tour of Bay Area" GIF Booth & Video Booth in the East Pavilion (Level 1) 
6:00-10:00 pm, If you’ve ever imagined what it would be like to “.gif yourself," wonder no more as Smilebooth rolls out their .gif-making photo booth.

Mad Libs & Poetry by the Swamp (Level 1)
6:00-10:00 pm, Wordsmiths from The Poetry Store will craft original, custom love poems for guests all night long, or you can get wordy on your own with Bay Area-themed Mad Libs.

Don’t forget—use the hashtags #BayAreaBold and #CASNightLife to share your memories with friends and inspire more bold moments!

21+ Event, ID required for entry.

Note: The 4-story Rainforest exhibit closes at 7:45pm and planetarium passes are distributed to visitors on a first-come first-served basis. Special programs and lectures may have limited seating and admission will also be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.

Buy Tickets

RSVP on Facebook


Dark Universe Planetarium presentation


Enjoy the following planetarium shows this week at NightLife:

6:30 pm
Earth Update
What’s the latest from Planet Earth? Using actual data from NASA, NOAA, and other sources, discover what’s up on our blue planet!  An immersive look at current, news-making developments in climate study, biodiversity, and the geosciences will give new meaning to the word “planet-arium.” We’ll take you around the globe to study the most amazing world of all… The one we live on!

7:30 & 8:30 pm
Dark Universe

Explore two of today’s greatest cosmic mysteries—dark matter and dark energy—in a vast, data-fueled starscape of beauty and wonder. Hurtle through deep space and be there for the birth of our own galaxy while exploring never-before-seen visualizations of the invisible matter and forces at work in our Universe.

Note: Passes to planetarium shows are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

NightLife LIVE Forests

NightLife LIVE: Forests

Live performances by Kelley Stoltz and Mystic Braves; art exhibited by Karen Cusolito
Music presented by (((folkYEAH!)))

21+ event, 6:00-10:00 pm

Lush canopies of sound envelope NightLife this week as we look to the trees for inspiration—from deeply-grown roots to treetops teeming with life.

Musician Kelley Stoltz will take the stage to perform a suite of hits, including selections from his most recent release Double Exposure (Third Man Records).

Long revered for his one-man, lo-fi sound, Stoltz has toured with the likes of The Raconteurs and Echo and the Bunnymen.

Supporting act Mystic Braves will kick off the night’s musical musings with a set of twangy, 60’s-era psychedelic rock that begs to be a part of your next desert road trip soundtrack.

Prepare to become a piece of artist Karen Cusolito’s organic garden of large-scale steel sculptures, part of the exhibit “Infinitarium.”

Plus, meet one of the world’s first “arbornauts"—and the Academy’s own—Canopy Meg Lowman as she takes you on a tour through the treetops during a lively presentation in African Hall, complete with her personal collection of Amazonian dart guns, climbing gear, and medicinal plants and remedies.

It’s a jungle up there! Learn about the amazingly diverse animals—from sloths to insects—that call the canopy home. 

Then, learn all about fungi foraging and identification with King of Mushrooms.

Don’t forget, we’re all just guests in the great outdoors and there’s no better way to learn about our endangered animal neighbors than by chatting with the experts.

Meet conservationists from the California Wolf Center and learn how you can help protect this species from threats in the wild, play a themed ping pong game by Wild Equity Institute, and learn what Rainforest Connection is doing to protect these fragile ecosystems. 

Claim victory over your fear of big bugs as you touch live specimens with Save Nature, then give the flavors of nature a taste while sampling edible insects—one of the world’s most sustainable food sources!

At the Project Lab, check out live snakes with Academy docents. So what if your iPhone reception in the wilderness is spotty?

In the Piazza, drift away with a dreamy, folk-pop set by DJ Britt Govea of (((folkYEAH!))).

21+ Event, ID required for entry.

Note: The 4-story Rainforest exhibit closes at 7:45pm and planetarium passes are distributed to visitors on a first-come first-served basis. Special programs and lectures may have limited seating and admission will also be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.

Buy Tickets

RSVP on Facebook


Life: A Cosmic Story


Enjoy the following planetarium shows this week at NightLife:

6:30 pm
Plan on getting lost in the wilderness sometime soon? Need help finding your way home after a long night out? Join Senior Planetarium Presenter Josh Roberts to discover how the stars can tell you where and when you are—and learn about how humans have been astro-navigating for thousands of years.

7:30 & 8:30 pm
Life: A Cosmic Story
How did life on Earth begin? What evidence do we have? Where else could life have gotten started in the Universe? Explore these tantalizing questions in the Academy’s second, award winning fulldome planetarium show narrated by Jody Foster.

Note: Passes to planetarium shows are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.


NightLife LIVE 2014

A monthly outdoor series that pairs emerging music and innovative visual arts with cutting-edge science

This summer, NightLife is going LIVE! On one special Thursday each month, beginning May 8th through October 16th, experience rotating art installations and outdoor performances in the East Garden by bands like Rogue Wave, Small Black, Dam-Funk, Beacon, and more.

Building off the success of our weekly Thursday night events, NightLife LIVE enlists the expertise of buzzworthy local tastemakers to pair emerging bands and musicians with cutting-edge visual artists in an innovative intersection of science, music, and art. 

How is NightLife LIVE different from other weekly NightLife events? In addition to our weekly themed NightLife events, NightLife LIVE will highlight outdoor music performances and rotating art installations in the East Garden one Thursday a month, for six months.

We’re excited to launch this monthly NightLife LIVE series while continuing to offer Bay Area culture lovers the same dose of music, creatures, and cocktails they’ve come to know and love every Thursday night.

Check out the official NightLife LIVE playlist to preview upcoming series performers!  

For adults 21+. Tickets $12 / $10 for Academy members.

Buy Tickets


NightLife LIVE crowd


The NightLife LIVE Lineup

Here's what's coming up in the next six months, with LIVE outdoor performances and art installations in the East Garden. Stay tuned for updates!

May 8th
Live sets by Dam-Funk and Myron & E
DJ set by Grown Kids Radio
Presented by Noise Pop
Artist exhibit debut by Boback Emad

June 12th
Live sets by Small Black and Beacon
DJ set by Heathered Pearls
Presented by ISO50
Artist exhibit by Azael Ferrer

July 10th
Live sets by Rogue Wave and Kacey Johansing
Presented by Soundwave
Artist exhibit by Gabriel Fontanillo and Leyre Montes

August 7th
Live sets by Typhoon & Yesway
Presented by Outside Lands

Artist exhibit by Ardent Heavy Industries

September 11th
Live sets by Kelley Stoltz and Mystic Braves
Presented by (((folkYEAH!)))

Artist exhibit by Karen Cusolito

October 16th
Live set by BADBADNOTGOOD and Saint Pepsi
Presented by Treasure Island Music Festival

Artist exhibit by Make Big Art

For adults 21+. Tickets $12 / $10 for Academy members. 

Buy Tickets


VIP tour on Living Roof, gem and mineral collection, students and reasearchers in the lab


A variety of food options are available each week at NightLife from 6-9:30pm.

Academy Cafe, Level 1 (across from Rainforest)
Sit and enjoy bites and drinks crafted by San Francisco’s renowned chef Charles Phan. Special guest DJs rotating weekly.

Academy Cafe Food Cart, Lobby
Grab small bites on the go.

The Moss Room, Lower Level (enter at Academy Cafe)
Sit and enjoy an artisan cocktail or variety of local beers and wines with bites from the cafe.
For large groups, please dial:

Earthquake exhibit, baby ostrich


Each week, enjoy a different fresh seasonal "Craft on Draft" cocktail at each bar area. Please note: All bars accept cash and credit cards.

Stay tuned for this week's cocktail tour menu designed by our resident mixologist Shane McKnight!

VIP tour on Living Roof, gem and mineral collection, students and reasearchers in the lab

NightLife VIP Tour

Want an entirely different NightLife experience? Join us on our NightLife VIP Tour.

Tickets include:

  • Admission to NightLife with express entry
  • One-hour behind-the-scenes tour with a private viewing of the Academy's renowned gem and mineral collection
  • Open bar in a reserved cocktail area prior to the tour
  • Meet and greet with Academy researchers in the project lab
  • VIP access to the Rainforest, and a reserved pass for the 8:30 Planetarium show

$59/person – limited tickets available each week

6pm - 8pm (event ends at 10 pm)

For tickets and details, please click here.

NightLife visitors enjoying cocktails, bar, NightLife Private Lounge

NightLife Private Lounge

Looking for a great space to celebrate landing that big account, throw a birthday party, or just gather with all your old friends, all while enjoying San Francisco’s most exciting Thursday night event?  Rent out the NightLife Private Lounge. You’ll get early access to a premium private room with catering and bar service and access to our Thursday NightLife event.

For more booking information contact David Nemoyten at (415) 379-5499 or dnemoyten@calacademy.org.

Morrison Planetarium earthquake visualization

NightLife Group Bookings

Click here to buy NightLife tickets for a group of 10 or more people.

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Next NightLife Event


9/4/2014 - "#BayAreaBold NightLife"

Buy Tickets


RSVP on Facebook

Upcoming Events


9/11/14 - "NightLife LIVE Forests"

Summer 2014 - "NightLife LIVE"

Maps & Directions



Click here for information about how to get to the Academy plus parking and safety tips.

NightLife Sponsorship


Thank you for your interest in sponsoring NightLife. For inquiries, please contact:


NightLife Inquiries


If you’re interested in performing or presenting at Nightlife, please contact nbooking@calacademy.org.

Please direct general questions or feedback to nightlife@calacademy.org.

What our Visitors Say


Nightlife has always been a very entertaining and new experience everytime I have been. Whether from the crazy Dinosaur Burlesque show to seeing Fitz & The Tantrums at the Nightlife Gala I never know.

- Zanni D.

The exhibits are beautifully maintained. Our NightLife visit included a back-of-the-scenes tour. Staff is very knowledgeable and friendly.

- Nina S.

NightLife is great! Fun and informational events, delicious drinks, good music and great company has been my experience thus far.

- Michael A.

At NightLife, I get a kick out of seeing adults experiment with the exhibits. I've been many times and still have not seen everything. Planetarium is up next!

- Michael A.

The Academy is one of those places that gives you both an educational and entertaining experience and the NightLife is such a fun event!

- Barbara C.

I love NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences because no matter how many times I go, I always find something new to learn.

- Gaby B.

Visited on a Thursday night and did the VIP package. Nice to have a private group tour with a separate area for food and beverage and express entrance to the Planetarium.

- Bill K.

NightLife really is the coolest place in town on Thursdays. Great place to take first dates, groups of friends and out-of-towners.

- Kelly B.

The crowd is happy, fun, no-drama type people. You get good food, good drinks, and great DJ's. If you want to go out and have real fun, this is the place to do it.

- Tracey M.

NightLife is the best thnig going on in the city. You have interesting and unique experiences with every visit.

- Tracey M.