Creatures + cocktails. Music + movements. Science + spectacle. Culture grows in the dark—Thursday nights at the Academy.

Upcoming events

July 25th at 6:00 pm

Explore the Academy at night alongside nearly 60,000 live animals.

August 1st at 6:00 pm

We’re kicking off our music series with homegrown movement maker LaRussell & the surf rock sounds of 3LH.

August 8th at 6:00 pm

Be transported by the grunge punk stylings of Margaritas Podridas and psychedelic rock sounds of opener Fauxes.

August 15th at 6:00 pm

Underground rap pioneer MURS takes center stage, with an opening set from multifaceted hometown artist Z-Man.

August 22nd at 6:00 pm

We’re closing out NightLife Remix with the serene soul vibes of Madison McFerrin and opener Dani Offline.

August 29th at 6:00 pm

See what’s revealed once the sun goes down and explore the nocturnal side of the Academy.

Know before you glow

We’re a science museum. Q&As are in our DNA. Hence this FAQ.

Hours + tickets

When is it?
NightLife is every* Thursday from 6-10 pm. Last entry into the building is 9 pm. All guests must be 21+ with valid, physical photo ID.

*Well, *almost* every Thursday. We hibernate for the holidays from mid-December through early-January, and there are a couple other NightLife-less Thursdays during the year due to other events in the building.

Are all exhibitions open?
Everything that’s open during the day is open during NightLife, but please note that our rainforest and gem exhibitions have reduced hours:

  • Osher Rainforest closes at 7:45 pm, with last entry at 7:30 pm. It’s one of our most popular exhibitions, so please queue up early if you want to trek through the tropics. (Our free-flying birds and butterflies operate on a different schedule than night owls like you—thanks for understanding.)
  • Gems and Minerals Unearthed opens at 8:30 pm. It is reserved for NightLife Plus guests from 6-8:30 pm.

How much are tickets?
NightLife ticket prices vary by event, but are always lower than daytime prices. While we love spontaneity, a little planning pays off in three ways: You’ll save an average of $3+ per ticket when you buy 3+ days in advance; you’ll skip the ticket line at the door; and you’ll guarantee your tickets, because sellouts do happen.

How do I see a planetarium show?
Morrison Planetarium passes are not included with NightLife admission, and are sold separately for $5 each. When purchasing NightLife tickets online, you’ll be prompted to add an available showtime to your cart. Shows are at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, and 9:30 pm unless otherwise noted.

Heads up:

  • Please queue up at the planetarium 15 minutes before your showtime. For your safety, there is no late entry into the theater once shows have started.
  • Planetarium passes almost always sell out in advance, so we strongly recommend purchasing them online instead of hoping for a miracle at the museum. A limited number of standby seats will be available for all showtimes on a first-come, first-served basis.


How can I find out which shows are playing during NightLife before I purchase a pass?
A weekly program schedule, including planetarium shows, is available on each NightLife event page. Please note: Scheduled programming is subject to change prior to each event date.

What happens if I miss my reserved showtime? Can I exchange or get a refund?
Refunds are not available for planetarium passes. If you miss your reserved showtime or arrive after the planetarium doors have closed, our staff will do their best to accommodate you at a later show if space permits. If you know you won’t be able to attend the event or would like to exchange for a different showtime, we are happy to exchange your planetarium pass for another date or time up to three days in advance of the event date. After that time, no exchanges can be made.

I’ve already purchased a NightLife Plus ticket. Do I still need to purchase a reserved planetarium pass?
Nope, all NightLife Plus tickets include entry to the 8:30 pm planetarium show.

Transportation + parking

What’s the best way to get to the event?
Walk, bike, or let someone else do the driving. MUNI’s 44 O’Shaughnessy stops right at our front door (as do Uber and Lyft), with the 5 Fulton, 7 Haight, and N Judah lines mere blocks away. See our Getting Here page for transit tips.

What are my parking options?
Parking can be a challenge, especially during big nights. Music Concourse Garage (not operated by the Academy) is steps away from our entrance, but can fill up fast. Street parking is more plentiful, but be prepared to walk. For best results, arrive early. See our Parking page for details.

Heads up: Golden Gate Park is dark at night. Please walk, bike, and drive carefully as nocturnal creatures (including your fellow NightLife revelers) may be scuttling around.

Food + drink

Where can I get a drink?
Bars are located on the Main Floor (usually in the Piazza and next to the Swamp) and downstairs in the aquarium, with beer and wine available for sale in the Academy Café. Our friendly bartenders sling a smorgasbord of specialty cocktails, craft beer, and delicious wines, plus a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. Pay with cash, card, or Apple Pay. *Clink!*

Where can I grab some food?
The Academy Café offers a range of grab-and-go options, from pizza and pasta to salads and sandwiches. Some events have a food theme, with samples and munchies available while supplies last.

Can I eat and drink throughout the museum?
Yes and no. You’re welcome to roam around with your drink everywhere except the planetarium, rainforest, and Swamp, but can only eat in the Academy Café or outdoors.

Nightlife is supported by Local Motion® Vodka Sodas, light, refreshing, and simply made with vodka, carbonated water, and natural flavors. Grab a can of Local Motion® at bars throughout NightLife this year!

Partner with us

Are you interested in performing, presenting, or selling at NightLife? Tell us more! Please fill out the appropriate form below and we'll be in touch.

What is NightLife?

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    Drag performer on stage at NightLife

    NightLife is musical

    There is a rhythm to the natural world. Chase the beat every week with DJs and performances.

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    2 male NightLife guests look into an exhibit at the Academy

    NightLife is animal

    About 60,000 creatures. A couple thousand humans. Be outnumbered in the best way.

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    A panel of people speaks to guests during a live talk in African Hall

    NightLife is cultural

    Talks, demonstrations, provocations. Bring an open mind so we can fill it with ideas.

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    Claude the alligator with albinism and his reflected image in the water

    NightLife is Claudeful

    Stop searching for the meaning of life. He lives here, has albinism, and loves gentle exfoliation.