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

Please note: The Academy will be closing at 3:00 pm on 10/24 (final entry at 2:00 pm). We apologize for any inconvenience.

Parking and traffic in Golden Gate Park will be congested the weekend of Oct. 3–5. Save $3 on Academy admission when you take public transportation.


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)

Dance Party NightLife

Dance Party NightLife

Music by DJ Rockin 
21+ event, 6:00-10:00 pm

Grab a partner—or a few—and head to NightLife for a museum-wide dance-a-thon. From belly dancing to vogue-ing to barn-style contra dancing and salsa—the world of movement is your oyster during this one-night-only rhythm fest.


Dance Workshops in African Hall (Level 1)

  • 7:45 pm, Barn Dancing instruction with Ellen Levitt
  • 8:30 pm, Salsa Workout with YMCA 

Dance Workshops & Performances in the Coral Reef
(Lower Level / Aquarium)

  • 7:30 pm, Catch special duet performances throughout the aquarium  by ODC Dance
  • 8:45 pm, Belly-Dancing instruction with Jeanette Walton

Dance Workshops & Performances in the Piazza
(Level 1)

  • 7:30 pm, Want to break a sweat while skipping the gym? Learn how to turn dance into an aerobic endeavor with Rhythm & Motion Dance, a high-energy workout class for everyone. Instruction by Rami Margron and Rena Marie Guidry.
  • 8:15 pm, Bust a move, then watch the pros work it out with two performances by ODC Dance, performing a routine titled “Waving Not Drowning” choreographed by Brenda Way.
  • 9:00 pm, Vogue & Global Street Dance instruction by Jocquese Whitfield & Rashad Pridgen

Insect Dances by the Project Lab (Level 1)
6:30-9:00 pm, Meet Academy entomologist Lina Almeida and learn how spiders and scorpions use dance to communicate (grab a pair of headphones and listen to a spider’s flamenco-like sounds).

In the planetarium, grab a seat for BELLA GAIA, a mind-blowing presentation that combines NASA Earth satellite imagery, time-lapse nature photography, and live music and dance footage from around the world in one unprecedented audiovisual experience. 

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


Universe Update


Enjoy the following planetarium shows this week at NightLife:

6:30 pm
Earth Update: Spotted Eagle Rays

Join Kim Bassos-Hull, Senior Biologist at Mote Marine Lab, and Anna Sellas, Laboratory and Collections Manager for the Academy’s Center for Comparative Genomics, in the planetarium as they look back at our own planet and species that inhabit it. Spotted eagle rays are large, beautiful rays, currently protected in Florida state waters and distributed across the world. Kim and Anna will share their stories of how conservation has connected countries and researchers to better understand and protect these rays. Please join us for this immersive look at our blue planet.

7:30 & 8:30 pm
An unprecedented audiovisual experience that combines NASA satellite imagery of Earth, time lapse nature photography, and cultural heritage footage with stirring live performances of music and dance from around the world. Inspired by astronauts who spoke of the life changing power of seeing the Earth from space, director-composer Kenji Williams’ award winning BELLA GAIA successfully simulates the Overview Effect from space flight, by using NASA supercomputer data-visualizations to explore the relationship between humans and nature through time and space, with a “message of oneness amidst a deeply moving and shimmering soundscape that combines sacred dance with gorgeous sets and stunning imagery” (Blog Talk Radio).

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

Sharktoberfest NightLife

Sharktoberfest NightLife

21+ event, 6:00-10:00 pm
Music by Blow Musik!

It’s that time of year—when toothy sharks and thirsty humans unite for a salute to brews with an aquatic twist.

In the East Garden, sip your way through a pop-up beer garden with libations on tap from dozens of local breweries, including Pacific Brewing Laboratory, Lagunitas, Almanac Beer Co., Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, Social Kitchen & Brewery, CaliCraft, Ale Industries, Triple VooDoo, and more—all amidst a soundscape of traditional German tunes by Blow Musik!.

In the East Pavilion, meet the ocean crusaders working to protect threatened shark populations with the Pacific Shark Research Center and Shark Stewards.

Down in the Coral Reef, meet folks from the Ocean Research Foundation and try your hand (or fin) at shark-themed trivia.

Catch a special shark-themed presentation led by Academy researcher Dave Ebert at 6:30 pm, followed by two showings of Dark Universe in the planetarium.

Chat with the Academy’s resident fish guru Dr. Luiz Rocha as he shows off shark specimens from the Academy’s collection, and meet Academy librarian Kelly Jensen and UC Davis researcher Sarah Friedman as they raid the museum archives to bring out their coolest, sharkiest artifacts.

Plus, view stunning scientific illustrations by Martha Iserman. Care to make this a night to remember? Design (and take home) your own shark hat or fins with the help of crafters from SCRAP. Bite that!

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


Enjoy the following planetarium shows this week at NightLife:

6:30 pm
Earth Update: Sharks

Join Dr. Dave Ebert and Paul Clerkin from Moss Landing Marine Labs, in the planetarium as they look back at our own planet and emphasize the shark in Sharktober. Get immersed in a wonderful world of "lost" sharks as we traverse the globe and highlight unique sharks and share why they are important to protect and conserve. Please join us for this fintastic look at our blue planet.

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 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 the 2014 lineup with LIVE outdoor performances and art installations in the East Garden.

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


"Dance Party NightLife" Cocktail Tour

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

Check out this week's cocktail tour menu designed by our resident mixologist Shane McKnight!

Absolut Vodka, Mixi’s “LIVE” handcrafted ginger beer, saffron bitters & fresh lime


Highland Park 12yr Single Malt Scotch, Mascallan 12yr Single Malt Scotch, Cutty Sark Prohibition Blend Scotch, Balvenie Doublewood 12yr, GlenLivet 12yr

Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Clandestine Absinthe, Ristretto Espresso Liqueur, Root Beer Bitters & orange peel

Ole’ Smoky Peach Moonshine, Ole’ Smoky White Lightnin’, Darjeeling Sun Tea, lemon juice, local honey, sliced peaches & fresh mint


Pac Brew Imperial IPA
Pac Brew Squid Ink IPA

Basil infused Absolut Vodka, Campari, ruby grapefruit juice, lemon juice, soda & a pinch of hibiscus infused Himalayan Pink Salt

Plymouth Gin with Mixi's Handcrafted Basil & Grapefruit Tonic made with real bark of the Cinchona Tree

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.

Connect with NightLife



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Next NightLife Event


10/2/2014 - "Dance Party NightLife"

Buy Tickets


RSVP on Facebook

Upcoming Events


10/9/14 - "Sharktoberfest NightLife"

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.