The Academy is a family-friendly museum with lots of exhibits, programs, and activities designed with kids in mind. To help parents and caretakers plan their visit, here's a handful of logistical tips and age-specific suggestions.
Tips for Parents and Guardians
Strollers and elevators
Though strollers aren't available for rent at the Academy, they're allowed throughout the museum—with the exception of the Shake House section of the Earthquake exhibit (where short-term stroller parking is provided). There are two elevators for guest use, located next to the Academy Café and the Swamp.
Changing tables are available in all restrooms on the museum floor, and a family-specific restroom is located next to the Swamp.
Food and beverages:
The Academy Café offers many kid-friendly options, with both indoor and outdoor seating available (You're also welcome to bring your own food and drinks, which can be enjoyed in our indoor Piazza or outdoor eating spaces.) Water-bottle-filling stations are located on Level 1, next to the elevators.
A note about the Osher Rainforest:
The rainforest is suitable for all ages, but because it is a hot, humid, and one-way exhibit, we recommend dressing in layers. Please note that there are no restrooms inside the rainforest dome, but you'll find one immediately after exiting through the Amazon Flooded Forest tunnel.
Please visit the Getting Here page for directions and parking information.
If you need to leave the museum but plan to return the same day, please be sure to get your hand stamped at the exit.
In the unlikely event that you should lose track of your child, please notify the closest Academy staff member, who will immediately contact our Security department. The Security office itself is located next to the Swamp.
Should you misplace an item, please visit lost-and-found (located at the coat check in our front lobby) on the day of your visit. To contact lost-and-found after your visit, please call (415) 379-5831.
Top Picks for Kids
From penguin feedings and space shows to sharks and skulls, we've got something for every member of your family to get excited about. Kid-friendly favorites include:
Early Explorers Cove
Ages 0 – 5, accompanied by a caregiver
Young children can explore a 15-foot replica of the Academy’s 1905 research schooner, tend a miniature garden, and enjoy books, toys, puzzles, live animals, dress-up costumes, and more. Space is limited, so visitors are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Please note: Early Explorers Cove will be closed for renovations from 8/1-9/29. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Earthquake Shake House
Ages 4 and up
Travel back in time to see, hear, and feel two earthquakes—and to learn useful tips for preparing for the Bay Area's next one. Children under age 4 are not permitted in the immersive "Shake House" portion of the Earthquake exhibit, but the rest of the exhibit is suitable for visitors of all ages.
Ages 7 and up
Explore the Universe like never before in the world’s largest all-digital planetarium. Shows begin every 45 to 60 minutes, and passes are available on-site on a first-come, first-served basis. Planetarium shows are recommended for kids aged 7 and older, and we cannot welcome anyone under age 4 into the dome. Visitors of all ages, however, are welcome at live presentations in Hohfeld Hall, the Planetarium’s entry lobby on Level 1. No passes are required for Hohfeld Hall presentations; please check the Events page for current planetarium show and Hohfeld Hall program information.
A wide range of ages; see specific program descriptions for age-appropriateness
Many of our story times, crafts, penguin feedings, and other programs are designed with young visitors in mind. Please check the Events page for daily programming.
In this hands-on space, kids and adults alike can touch specimens, watch natural history videos, play games, solve puzzles, browse books, ask questions, and more.
From Claude the albino alligator to schools of iridescent fish, the aquarium is home to nearly 40,000 live animals that have a knack for surprising and delighting even the youngest visitor.
Special Family Experiences
Ages 2 – 10
Celebrate your birthday at the Academy! You and your guests will enjoy exclusive access to our Moss Room, light refreshments, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Academy gems vault, and celebratory birthday cupcakes.
Family Activity Guide
Talk, laugh, draw, and make predictions as you use these activities to explore the Academy as a family.
Penguins + Pajamas Sleepovers
Ages 5 – 17
With an adult chaperone, kids ages 5-17 can spend the night at the Academy, enjoying an evening of special activities before unrolling their sleeping bags next to a favorite exhibit.
Ages 5 and up
Gain a new perspective on the Academy and its exhibits during a specialty tour. Adventure Tours, Celebration Tours (great for birthday parties!), and After-Hours Tours are open to guests ages 5 and up. Behind-the-Scenes Tours and Green Building Tours are open to guests ages 8 and up.
Tips for Teens
All areas of the museum are appropriate for teens and pre-teens. In fact, you’ll see some of our Teen Advocates for Science Communication (aka the TASC Force) and Careers in Science interns teaching visitors about science on any given weekend. If you have a budding teenage scientist on your hands, be sure to check out our youth and internship programs for middle- and high schoolers.
We're committed to making our exhibits, programs, and services accessible to everyone. Please click the link below to explore our resources and services for warmly welcoming all guests.
Celebrate your birthday at the Academy with customizable parties designed for children ages 2 – 10.