Before You Apply

Two sisters lean closer to view butterflies in a case

Who can apply for a field trip?
School Field Trips are available for formal California school groups of students in grades pre-K through 12, including preschool. Summer camps, afterschool programs, churches, and clubs may qualify for discounted rates offered for Youth Groups

When can we visit?
Generally, field trips can be scheduled on all dates with the exception of school breaks and holidays. You can even book a weekend visit!

How much does it cost?
San Francisco school groups are admitted free. Other California school groups and all youth groups pay heavily discounted rates subsidized by donations to the Academy for All fundraising effort. Prices may vary based on time of year. Planetarium shows are free, but a reservation is required. 

How many students can I bring?
Schools: You can include up to 10 classes of 36 students on each online application. If you need to bring a larger group, simply submit a second application for the extra classes, using the same preferred visit dates.
Youth Groups: You will submit a single application which includes all the members of your group, and there is no upper limit, assuming availability.

How many chaperones should I bring?
Please refer to the following chaperone limits depending on the age of your group. The Academy works hard to accommodate students with special needs; if your group has a valid reason for requiring additional adult chaperones, please indicate as much in your application.

  • Preschool
    Minimum: 1 adult per 8 students
    Maximum: 1 adult per 2 students
  • K-8
    Minimum: 1 adult per 8 students
    Maximum: 1 adult per 4 students
  • High School
    Minimum: 1 adult per 15 students
    Maximum: 1 adult per 4 students

Can I bring more chaperones if I’ve exceeded the limit?
Yes. However, you must pay full admission price, rather than the subsidized school and youth group price, per extra adult. 

How can we see a Planetarium show?
School groups may attend a Planetarium show if they have made a reservation; these seats are requested when you apply for a field trip online, and your field trip confirmation email will indicate if we were able to seat your students in a show on your preferred visit date. School shows are available for grades K-8 at 10:30 am, and grades 3-12 are invited to pre-book seats in select morning showtimes shared with other museum visitors. All other showtimes present a public show to other museum guests; passes will not be distributed to school groups for these presentations.


In Preparation for Your Visit

Docent cart in the rainforest dome

I can’t find my confirmation email! What do I do?
To receive a copy of your confirmation email, contact, or (877) 227-3311.

What kind of payment do you accept? What if our visit numbers have changed?
Payment must be received prior to your visit day. The Academy accepts payment by credit card or mail-in check; we regret that we cannot accept purchase orders. Additional tickets may be purchased on the date of your visit, but will be done so at the daytime admission rates. Therefore, we encourage you to make any headcount changes prior to your visit by contacting or (877) 227-3311.

Do you issue refunds for cancelations?
Refunds will not be issued due to inclement weather or other day-of circumstances; however, a credit may be extended to a future trip within the same school year – let’s reschedule you in!

Do you issue refunds for students or chaperones that don’t end up attending?
Discounted admission is given in part because you are a large group; as such, refunds are not given for students or adults who do not attend on the day of your visit. However, you can adjust your headcount as your visit date approaches to more accurately reflect expected participation. Just give us a call at (877) 227-3311.

Some of my chaperones are Members. Can they get in free with some of the kids?
Alas, no. Member benefits for individuals or families do not apply to field trips, as these orders are taken on behalf of the school itself. Also, your class(es) enter the building via group entry, rather than the Membership door. You must reserve a space for any Members, and pay any associated admission fees.

What’s the parking situation?
Cars may park on surface streets for a limited time (up to 4 hours in Golden Gate Park) or in the underground city garage, but we cannot validate parking. The bus loading/unloading zone is located at the front of the Academy. City parking for buses is available behind the Music Concourse Bandshell for a low fee.

Can I preview the exhibits for free to prepare?
Yes! Simply bring your field trip confirmation email and a photo ID to the Service Desk outside the Academy entrance, and they will print one complimentary admission ticket for each associated educator.

I have students who are blind or partially-sighted. Do you provide accommodations?
All exhibits have built-in detection points for the blind, and our public elevators are equipped with auditory signals. Wherever possible, exhibits have been made tactile for an enhanced experience. A person who accompanies and performs the task of interpreter for a visitor who is blind or visually impaired, is admitted free-of-charge. Readers and specially-trained tour guides are available with two weeks prior notice. For more information, or to book a service, please call the Contact Center at 877-227-3311.

I have students who are deaf or hearing impaired. Do you provide accommodations?
Transcripts are available for all regularly scheduled Planetarium shows and other multimedia in the Academy, and assistive listening transmitters are positioned in the Planetarium, Earthquake Mini-Dome Theater, and Earthquake Shake House exhibit. For more information please, stop by our Information desk. Any interpreter accompanying a deaf or hearing-impaired visitor (for the purpose of interpreting) is admitted free of charge. Additionally, sign-language interpreters for the Planetarium, the 3D theater in the Forum, and exhibit tours are available with two weeks prior notice. For more information, or to book a service, please call the Contact Center at 877-227-3311.


On the Morning of Your Visit

A high school interns shows students how to dissect owl pellets

What paperwork do I have to bring to the entrance?
Bring a copy of your confirmation email, or at the very least, your order number. A Guest Services associate will meet and direct your group to the appropriate line. Expect entry to take up to 10 minutes.

What if we’re running late?
Remember that your entire group must be present before you can be admitted to the museum, so plan accordingly when carpooling.

If you have reserved seats in the 10:30am Planetarium student show, you must arrive by 10:00am to give us time to process your order and escort you to the show. Note that we cannot place your class in later public shows if you missed your reservation.

How can I prepare my chaperones?
Download our Chaperone Guide for ideas on how to facilitate student learning! The Chaperone Guide is available in English, Spanish, or Chinese.

What drop-in programs are available on the day of my visit?
Schedules for daily presentations can be obtained in the lobby on the day of your visit. Or, pre-plan by viewing the daily event calendar.

When do we line up for the Planetarium show?
If you have pre-reserved seats in a show, please be in line at the Planetarium at least 30 minutes ahead of time in order to be seated for the show. You may be attending this program along with other school groups, so your prompt arrival will be appreciated. Due to the nature of the planetarium show, no one can be admitted to the theater after the program has started, so plan ahead!

Where can we eat lunch?
We recommend eating lunch in the Piazza, East Garden, or West Garden. We regret that storage for lunches is unavailable.

Do you have accommodations for children with sensory needs?
If you have children in your group with sensory needs, head over to Coat Check to borrow a bag containing noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, fidget toys, and other anxiety-reducing touchables. You can also plan to visit museum areas that are less likely to be loud, smelly, or visually complex, using the Sensory Guide on the interactive floor map.

Can we take photographs?
Yes. Please avoid using a flash and do not take pictures where signs forbid it. Tripods can be set up in certain locations, but not in a thoroughfare (e.g., the ramp up the Rainforest dome).

Can we exit and re-enter the museum on the day of our visit?
Yes, since you can receive a hand stamp at the exit door. Students may not leave or enter the Academy without a teacher or chaperone.

What happens if we lost a student, or need first aid?
For lost children or first aid, please go to the Security Office located near the Swamp or flag down the closest employee on the public floor.

What other services do you provide that might be useful?
Wheel-chairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis for those in need; approach the information desk to rent one. For lost and found items, go to the Reception Desk at the rear of the building. A family restroom is located on the main floor near the Swamp.

My camp program has agreed to abide by specific child safety procedures. Can we designate a restroom for exclusive use by our group?
If your group requires limited or exclusive access to restroom facilities please check in with Guest Experience staff upon arrival.


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We anticipate welcoming schools on field trips in fall 2021, with the application opening up in August.

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