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5 steps for a safe and fun visit

The Academy’s top priority has always been the health and safety of our staff, guests, animals, and community. Since the early days of the pandemic, we’ve developed a reopening plan informed by local, state, and CDC public health guidelines, internal science expertise, and the latest COVID-19 research. By following the five steps below, you can enjoy safe science adventures at the Academy while doing your part to protect others.

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1. Advance reservations required!

Illustration of smartphone with barcoded ticket

All guests, including members and donors, must reserve timed-entry tickets online in advance. Weekends often sell out early, so please reserve as far in advance as possible for the greatest availability.

Timed-entry tickets enable safer, contactless entry into the Academy while helping us monitor building capacity, which is limited to 20% of our pre-closure maximum. Tickets are available to reserve in 30-minute entry windows up to three weeks in advance. As always, the further in advance you buy, the more you’ll save.

Please view steps 2–4 below before reserving your tickets. Members, please note that you’ll need to log in first. For more information, see the "Ticketing" section in the FAQ.

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2. View the health self-screening questions before heading out!

Illustration of person with thermometer

If anyone in your party says “yes” to anything on the screening, please say “no” to visiting that day.

By staying home if you’re feeling sick, you’re keeping other guests—and the Academy staff that care for the animals you love—safe. If you need to reschedule your visit, we’re happy to help: Just send an email to info@calacademy.org.

View the screening questions (PDF).

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3. Remember the Three Ws: Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance!

Illustration of person wearing mask

Wear a mask: All guests ages 3 and up, as well as all Academy staff, must wear a mask at all times, inside and outside.

Masks must be worn correctly and snugly over your nose and mouth at all times, except when eating or drinking, which is limited to outdoor spaces and the Academy Café. Failure to keep your mask on properly may result in your removal from the museum.

For more information, view the "Masks" section in the FAQ below.

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Illustration of handwashing

Wash your hands: Clean hands fight COVID-19! Practice good hand hygiene during your visit.

After touching exhibits and before and after eating, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. Sanitizer stations are located throughout the Academy. Please avoid touching your face and unnecessary physical contact with others.

For more information, view the "Hand hygiene" section in the FAQ below.

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Illustration of people practicing physical distancing

Watch your distance: Please maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet/2 meters (or ⅗ of a Claude) between your party and other guests and Academy staff.

This includes waiting in line, speaking to staff, or viewing an exhibit. If a space is full, simply come back to it later. In addition to physical distancing, please stay with your party and stay to the right whenever possible.

For more information, view the "Physical distancing" section in the FAQ below.

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4. Reservations are required for the planetarium, rainforest and Shake House!

Illustration of smartphone with barcoded ticket on screen

We've reduced the capacity of these exhibits for your safety. Please make a free reservation when you arrive.

The planetarium is reopening on Friday, April 23! To reserve a showtime for the planetarium or an entry time for the rainforest or Shake House, scan the QR code posted in the lobby with your phone as soon as you arrive. Please note that entry times are limited and often fill up early in the day and on weekends. We regret that we cannot guarantee available reservations for any exhibits.

For more information, view the "Exhibit reservations and closures" section in the FAQ below.

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5. Follow directional signage, floor decals, and staff instructions!

Illustration of footprints

We're serious about safety. Please take note of the blue safety signage installed throughout the Academy.

Keep an eye out for one-way signs, physical distancing floor decals, and reminders to frequently wash or sanitize your hands—and listen up for announcements over the PA system.

For more information, view the "Entry, capacity, and guest flow" section in the FAQ below.

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More ways we're keeping you safe

Learn more about the changes we’ve made to building capacity, exhibit design, cleaning protocols, and air flow to further enhance everyone’s health and safety.

  • Reduced building capacity The Academy is limiting attendance to 20% of our capacity to maximize physical distancing and minimize crowding. This means an extra-spacious Academy to explore, with more activations and pop-up programs in outdoor spaces like the East Garden, West Garden, and Living Roof.
     
  • Closures of some exhibits and spaces Exhibits and spaces with a high degree of interactivity or where it’s hard to maintain physical distance will remain temporarily closed, including Naturalist Center, Curiosity Grove, and Discovery Tidepool. Additionally, some hands-on exhibit elements will be modified or disabled for your safety.
     
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection We're cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces per CDC guidelines throughout the day, including exhibits, restrooms, railings, and seating areas. The entire building is cleaned and disinfected every evening after closing.
     
  • Increased air flow and filtration Our updated HVAC system keeps fresh air moving at all times. This includes purging outside air before and after guests enter certain spaces, reducing the use of recirculated air, and increasing filtration and the frequency of filter changes throughout the building.
     
  • Outdoor dining Delicious grab-and-go options are available for purchase in the Academy Café—and physically distanced indoor seating is now available! While capacity is limited for indoor seating, there is plenty of outdoor seating in the spacious West Garden for al fresco dining. 

View the Academy's Health and Safety Plan submitted to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

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We look forward to your visit!

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A masked guest gazes at the enormous Philippine Coral Reef exhibit
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FAQ

Expand each category below for detailed information on our enhanced health and safety measures, ticketing updates, exhibit closures, and more.

Ticketing

Can I buy tickets at the door?
For the health and safety of all guests and staff, walkup ticket sales are not available, with the exception of for Museums for All patrons. We ask all other guests, including members, to make a reservation online at least one day in advance of their visit. This will help us manage guest flow and capacity inside the museum, minimize crowding at our main entrance, and reduce face-to-face interactions between guests and staff. Tickets will be available up to three weeks in advance, so we encourage guests to plan ahead as much as possible for the greatest availability of timeslots and the lowest prices.

As part of the Museums for All cooperative, the Academy will continue to offer $3 Daytime Admission tickets to EBT, WIC, Lifeline Pass, and Medi-Cal cardholders every day of the year. These tickets are not available online at this time; simply present your card at the ticket window to purchase your $3 tickets. Limit 4 per group per visit.

If you are unable to make a reservation online, please email us at info@calacademy.org.

How do I reserve tickets?
Here’s a preview of the public ticket reservation process (if you’re a member, please skip to the “Members” section below):

  1. Head to our Buy Tickets page and select your ticket. 
  2. Select your visit date. Click the first dropdown menu to select a visit date within the next 3 weeks. The Academy is open on our normal schedule, Monday-Saturday, 9:30-5 pm, and Sunday, 11 am-5 pm. Members-only hours are Tuesday, 8:30-9:30 am and Sunday, 10-11 am. Tip: Weekdays are always quieter than weekends, and ticket prices are usually lower.
  3. Select your entry time. Click the second dropdown menu to select an available entry time. Entry times are listed in 30-minute timeslots. If you select a 10 am entry time, you will be able to enter the museum at any time between 10 am and 10:30 am. Please do not arrive before your timeslot, and note that late entries may not be accomadated.
  4. Select your ticket quantity. Indicate how many Adults (18-64), Youth (3-17), Students (18+ with ID), and Seniors (65+ with ID) are in your party. Children 2 and under always visit for free. Tip: For everyone’s health and safety, please only visit with people in your household.
  5. Click Add to Cart to proceed to checkout. After completing your purchase, you will receive your tickets via email as a PDF attachment. On the day of your visit, please be sure to have your ticket PDF ready for self-scanning, either on your smartphone (brightness all the way up, please!) or printed out.

Why do I have to choose a specific time of day to visit?
To promote physical distancing and adhere to public health guidelines, the Academy is limiting attendance to 20% of our normal maximum capacity. Timed-entry admission helps us manage capacity and regulate guest flow while also encouraging guests to visit during quieter times of day. Please note that there is no time limit for your visit, but the average guest visit is approximately three hours.

I’m a member. Do I still need to make a reservation?
Yes. Academy members also need to reserve their free timed-entry Daytime Admission tickets and discounted NightLife tickets in advance, including for entry during Member Hours. Click here to log in and reserve your tickets, and refer to the “Members” section of this FAQ for more details

Can I visit the Academy with a San Francisco CityPASS?
Yes! First, purchase CityPASS online for immediate, paperless delivery to your mobile device. Next, use the Academy reservation system to book your visit date and time. Learn more

Is Plan-Ahead Pricing still in effect?
Yes. The further in advance you buy, the more you’ll save on tickets. At this time, tickets are available to reserve up to three weeks in advance. Please note that ticket prices may vary depending on your entry time, with lower prices generally available later in the day. Learn more on our Plan-Ahead Pricing page.

Can I bring my class or youth group on a field trip?
We know how important Academy field trips are for your students—and for us! We plan to resume field trip bookings once Bay Area school districts and youth-serving organizations encourage off-site excursions. We’ll ensure your class’s visit is as safe, educational, and fun as possible. Thank you for your patience! In the meantime, check out our free Distance Learning programs.

Can I bring a group?
If sufficient ticket quantities are available for your desired entry time, you are welcome to purchase tickets for up to 12 members of your group. Please note that your group should consist only of members of your own household as per local guidelines around safer social interactions. Learn more on our Groups page.

Exhibit reservations and closures

When will the planetarium reopen?
Get ready to see stars! Morrison Planetarium is now open. To maximize staff and guest safety, reservations are required and capacity is limited to 50 guests per show and 4-5 screenings per day. While we're thrilled to welcome guests back to the planetarium, demand will unfortunately be greater than supply for the time being: We regret that not all guests will be able to enjoy a show during their visit because the capacity of the dome has been significantly reduced due to COVID-19 protocol. For the best chance to secure a reservation, please scan the QR code in the lobby to make your reservation as soon as you arrive. If no timeslots are available, please try again later as additional reservations are released later in the day. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we safely reopen the planetarium after more than a year, and we look forward to increasing capacity over the coming months in accordance with local, state, and CDC guidelines.

Please note: Planetarium shows may not be appropriate for children under 7, and we regret that we cannot permit any child under 4. Food and drink are not permitted inside the planetarium, and masks must be worn properly at all times.

When are planetarium showtimes?
On weekdays, Big Astronomy will be shown at 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm, and Tour of the Universe will be shown at 4:30 pm. On weekends, the same schedule applies, with the addition of a 10:30 am showtime. Please note that our schedule is subject to change.

Reservations are required for all shows and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Scan the QR code in the lobby as soon as you arrive to reserve your showtime. If no timeslots are available, please try again later as additional reservations are released later in the day. Due to extremely limited capacity, we regret that not all guests interested in attending a planetarium show may be able to secure a reservation during their visit.

Will the planetarium be open during NightLife?
NightLife returns on May 13, but the planetarium will remain closed during NightLife events until later this summer. We look forward to welcoming you back to the dome after dark soon!

What health and safety protocols will be in place in the planetarium?
Staff and guest safety in the planetarium is our top priority. Capacity will be reduced to 50 guests per show, with 4-5 shows per day. Before every show, ushers will ensure at least 4 empty seats, or 6 ½ feet, are between parties to maximize physical distancing. During every show, guests must keep their masks on at all times, and food and drink are strictly prohibited. After every show, our janitorial staff will clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces, including handrails and armrests.

Are all exhibits open?
Exhibits and spaces with a high degree of interactivity or where it’s hard to maintain physical distance will remain temporarily closed until further notice, including Naturalist Center, Curiosity Grove, Discovery Tidepool, and the fog room in Giants of Land and Sea. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work together to reduce risk and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Will there be any changes to existing exhibits?
Some interactive elements within certain exhibits have been disabled or modified for your safety, and we encourage guests to avoid touching tank glass whenever possible. Exhibits, glass, railings, and other high-touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day. It’s a great idea to wash or sanitize your hands after engaging with an exhibit.

Why do I need a reservation for the planetarium, rainforest, and Shake House?
Entry into Morrison Planetarium, Osher Rainforest and the Shake House earthquake simulator in Giants of Land and Sea is available by reservation only for no additional charge in order to manage capacity, ensure physical distancing, and allow enough time for cleaning and disinfection between groups of guests. Upon arriving at the Academy, guests will be invited to scan a QR code with their smartphone and select an entry time for the rainforest and the Shake House, or a showtime for the planetarium.

Please note that entry times and showtimes are limited and often fill up early in the day and on weekends and holidays, and we regret that we cannot guarantee available reservations for the planetarium or rainforest.

What if there are no reservations available?
Reservations for Morrison Planetarium, Osher Rainforest, and the Shake House are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are an extremely limited number of timeslots and showtimes available per day for your safety. We regret that we can’t guarantee the availability of reservations during periods of high demand, especially weekends and holidays, and recommend making your reservations as soon as you arrive for the greatest selection of available timeslots. If no timeslots are available, please try again later as additional reservations are released later in the day. Please help us maximize timeslot availability by only making reservations that you can keep, and canceling if you can’t make it.

Academy members and donors enjoy priority reservation access at the time of booking—and the freedom to visit all year long. Join today for as low as $99/year.

How do I reserve a spot?
Reserving a showtime in the planetarium or entry time in the rainforest or Shake House is fast and free with your smartphone. When you get to the Academy, keep an eye out for lobby signage with QR codes. Then:

  1. Aim your smartphone camera or QR code reader app at the QR code posted in the lobby or at the entrance to the planetarium, rainforest, or Shake House
  2. Tap the URL that appears
  3. On the webpage that opens up in your browser, select the exhibit you'd like to visit and your desired entry time or showtime
  4. Enter your name, phone number, and size of your party (maximum 8) and confirm your reservation

You’ll receive a text message confirming your reservation and entry time, as well as a reminder five minutes before your reservation. Please be sure to arrive on time as we may not be able to accommodate latecomers.

There is no charge to make a reservation with your smartphone, but message and data rates may apply depending on your carrier. If no timeslots are available, please try again later as additional reservations are released later in the day. Need help making a reservation? Ask any Academy staff member for assistance.

NightLife and events

When will NightLife start back up again?
Mark you calendars: NightLife is re-entering the building on May 13! However, we’ve made some adjustments to the NightLife cadence and experience. To help keep guests safe and ensure everyone has plenty of room to physically distance, NightLife will be limited to 20% capacity and have timed-entry tickets. While expanded programming ramps back up, NightLife will only be on select Thursdays; scheduled events are available here. As always, all guests must be 21+ with ID to attend. For those unable to attend in person, the Academy will continue to offer its free virtual NightSchool programs—informal online "classes" with an eclectic mix of science and culture—streaming live (and available as recordings afterwards) on the Academy’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Will all exhibits be open during NightLife?
Exhibits and spaces with a high degree of interactivity or where it’s hard to maintain physical distance will remain temporarily closed until further notice, including Morrison Planetarium, Naturalist Center, Curiosity Grove, Discovery Tidepool, and the fog room in Giants of Land and Sea. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work together to reduce risk and slow the spread of COVID-19.

When will the planetarium reopen for NightLife?
Please note Morrison Planetarium is currently closed for NightLife guests until later this summer. Sign up for NightLife email updates and stay tuned for dome details.

Why do I need a reservation for the rainforest and Shake House?
Entry into Osher Rainforest and the Shake House earthquake simulator in Giants of Land and Sea is available by reservation only for no additional charge in order to manage capacity, ensure physical distancing, and allow enough time for cleaning and disinfection between groups of guests. Upon arriving at the Academy, guests will be invited to scan a QR code with their smartphone and select an entry time for the rainforest and the Shake House. Please note that reservations for these exhibits are first-come, first served and capacity is limited.

What if there are no reservations available?
Reservations for Osher Rainforest and the Shake House are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are an extremely limited number of timeslots and showtimes available per day for your safety. We regret that we can’t guarantee the availability of reservations during NightLife, and recommend making your reservations as soon as you arrive for the greatest selection of available timeslots. Please help us maximize timeslot availability by only making reservations that you can keep, and canceling if you can’t make it.

How do I reserve a spot?
Reserving an entry time in the rainforest or Shake House is fast and free with your smartphone. When you get to the Academy, keep an eye out for lobby signage with QR codes. Then:

  1. Aim your smartphone camera or QR code reader app at the QR code posted in the lobby or at the entrance to the rainforest or Shake House
  2. Tap the URL that appears
  3. On the webpage that opens up in your browser, select the exhibit you'd like to visit and your desired entry time or showtime
  4. Enter your name, phone number, and size of your party (maximum 8) and confirm your reservation
  5. You’ll receive a text message confirming your reservation and entry time, as well as a reminder five minutes before your reservation. Please be sure to arrive on time as we may not be able to accommodate latecomers.

There is no charge to make a reservation with your smartphone, but message and data rates may apply depending on your carrier. . Need help making a reservation? Ask any Academy staff member for assistance.

What dining options will be available during NightLife?
Food and beverages are available for purchase in the Academy Café and West Garden​ including ​a variety of grab-and-go options, craft cocktails​, and more​. To maximize health and safety, diners will follow a one-way route through the food service area, tables, condiment stations, and food prep areas will be disinfected regularly, plexiglass partitions will be installed at all points of sale, and all seating will be placed six feet apart in our Cafe and West Garden. Food and cocktails will be available in the Academy Cafe and West Garden from 6-9:30 pm.

Will I be able to eat and drink inside?
Yes, but only in the Academy Café! With San Francisco now in the orange tier, we are thrilled to offer guests physically distanced indoor dining in the Academy Café only. Please note that capacity is limited and tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No space inside? Head out to the West Garden for abundant, physically distanced seating, which we clean and disinfect regularly. Whether you're eating indoors or out, please keep your mask on at all times except when actively eating or drinking, and limit each table or bench to one party.

Can I re-enter the event after exiting?
For your safety, we’re no longer offering re-entry hand stamps. If you wish to re-enter after exiting, you will need to purchase a new NightLife ticket.

Are there still public programs and demonstrations during the day?
Yes! However, to maximize physical distancing and minimize crowding inside the museum, we are no longer scheduling public programs and demonstrations at specific times. Instead, we have shifed to a “pop-up” model where Academy staff will host physically distanced, exciting, educational mini-programs throughout the day on every floor, in the East and West Gardens, and on our Living Roof.

Are VIP Tours available? How safe are they?
Yes! Book a VIP Tour to head off the beaten track and explore the abundance of biodiversity in Golden Gate Park and atop the Academy’s lush Living Roof. On this 45-minute tour you'll encounter native plants in bloom, unearth the secrets of the Living Roof, and discover impressive feats of sustainable engineering. (Please note: Tour includes stairs and unpaved paths.) For ages 3 and up. For your safety, tours are limited to 6 total guests. Members, your discount will be applied after login.

Please note that the VIP Tour ticket price does not include Daytime Admission. You will have the opportunity to add a VIP Tour to your order when reserving your tickets online.

When will Dean Astronomy Lectures start back up again?
We’re hoping to resume our Dean Lecture series later this spring. In the meantime, check out Morrison Planetarium on our website and Facebook for livestreamed programs, stargazing resources, and more.

When will Penguins+Pajamas Sleepovers start back up again?
We’re hoping to resume sleepovers later this year. Please visit our Penguins+Pajamas Sleepovers page for the most up-to-date info.

Cleaning, disinfection, and HVAC

Is the Academy cleaning and disinfecting more frequently?
Yes. High-touch surfaces like exhibits, restrooms, railings, and seating areas are cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day per CDC guidelines, and the entire building is cleaned and disinfected every evening after closing. To further reduce risk, some hands-on exhibit elements are unavailable. While the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a contaminated surface—also known as fomite transmission—is thought to be extremely low, we’re doing everything we can to keep our guests, staff, and community safe.

How often are restrooms cleaned?
Restrooms are checked hourly and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected twice daily, and hand dryers have been removed and replaced with paper towels. Please maintain physical distance inside restrooms, keep your mask on (yes, even inside the stall!), and wash and dry your hands thoroughly before exiting.

I’m a little worried about recirculated air. Is it safe to be indoors?
While it is currently unknown the extent to which HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems play a role in the spread of COVID-19, the Academy follows ASHRAE’s (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) CDC-aligned recommendations for HVAC operations, including:

  • Reducing the use of recirculated air and using 100% outside air whenever possible
  • Purging of spaces with outside air before and after occupancy
  • Securing windows that negatively impact central HVAC airflow
  • Use of MERV-13 air filters with an increase in changing frequency
  • Use of portable high-efficiency air filters in some back-of-house areas
  • Use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) in some areas

While safety can never be guaranteed in any public space, we believe that the Academy’s combination of reduced building capacity, required mask-wearing, hand-washing, and physical distancing, and the reduction of recirculated air in our indoor spaces will substantially reduce risk of community spread.

Health self-screening

How does the Academy screen guests for COVID-19?
For everyone’s health and safety, guests who have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms within 24 hours of their visit, have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days of their visit, or have had close contact with anyone who has tested positive within 14 days of their visit will not be permitted to enter the Academy.

All guests are required to review important health and safety information before purchasing tickets online, and are asked to confirm their responses to a confidential health self-screening before being permitted to enter the museum. If you or anyone in your party can answer “yes” to any of the three questions on the screening, you will not be permitted to enter the Academy and will be invited to reschedule your visit for another day. Academy staff will be available to help you select another visit date.

Pre-visit health self-screening (view PDF):

  1. In the last 24 hours, including today, have you had ANY of the symptoms below, that is new or not explained by another condition?

    —fever (100.4°F/38°C or greater)
    —chills or shivering
    —cough, sore throat
    —shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
    —feeling unusually weak or fatigued
    —loss of taste or smell
    —muscle or body aches
    —headache
    —vomiting or diarrhea, nausea
     

  2. In the past 10 days, have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 or had a test confirming you have the virus?
     
  3. In the past 10-14 days, have you had “close contact” with anyone who has COVID-19, during their contagious period? “Close contact” includes:

    —being within 6 feet of them for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period
    —having direct contact with their bodily fluids (coughed or sneezed on you or shared food utensils)
    —living or staying overnight with them
    —having physical or intimate contact, including hugging and kissing
    —taking care of them, or having them take care of you

Are there temperature checks at the door?
At this time, the Academy has no plans to conduct temperature checks at the door in order to detect guests with fevers. While fevers over 100.4ºF are a common symptom of COVID-19, the consistent accuracy of infrared thermal temperature scanners and their effectiveness as a means of reducing community spread has not been established.

What precautions is the Academy taking to protect its staff?
Academy staff who can work remotely will continue to do so, while those whose work requires them to be in the building—such as animal care biologists, engineering staff, guest experience, security, and custodial staff—will be subject to the same daily health self-screening as guests. These staff members also practice physical distancing in all back-of-house areas and follow rigorous safety protocols to protect guests, animals, and each other.

Entry, capacity, and guest flow

Will the Academy's capacity be increased now that San Francisco is in the orange tier?
On Wednesday, March 24, San Francisco moved into California's orange tier, meaning some offices, businesses, and recreational facilities may reopen or increase their capacity. In order to maintain the required 6 feet of physical distance between guests and staff, the Academy will not be increasing its capacity at this time. We continue to closely follow the science and local, state, and CDC guidelines to protect the health and safety of our staff, guests, and community.  

How do guests enter the Academy?
Guests still enter the Academy at our main entrance at 55 Music Concourse Drive, but additional health and safety measures are in place to protect guests and staff. Please take note of the following for a safe, speedy entry:

  • Timed-entry tickets must be reserved in advance. Tickets are not available for sale at the museum. You may purchase (or reserve, for members) your tickets up to 3 weeks before your visit—and the further in advance you buy, the more you’ll save. 
  • Arrive within your 30-minute entry timeslot. Please avoid arriving early to minimize crowding at the main entrance. Your ticketed entry time marks the beginning of your 30-minute entry timeslot, and you will not be permitted to enter early if you arrive early. If you arrive after your entry timeslot, we’ll do our best to accommodate you, but admission cannot be guaranteed. Please ensure all members of your party ages 3 and up are wearing masks upon arrival.
  • Please have your tickets ready for self-scanning, either printed out or displayed on your smartphone—brightness all the way up, please! Guests will scan their own tickets to minimize face-to-face interaction with staff.
  • Just prior to entry, confirm your answers to the health-screening questions that you reviewed before purchasing your tickets online. If anyone in your party can answer “yes” to any of the questions on the day of your visit, we will help you to reschedule your visit for a later date.
  • Please sanitize your hands before entry. We’re doing our best to keep germs outside!
  • No re-entry after exiting. For your safety, we’re no longer offering re-entry hand stamps. If you wish to re-enter after exiting, you will need to purchase a new ticket.

Can I buy tickets at the door?
At this time, all tickets must be reserved online in advance and walkup sales are not be available. Timed-entry tickets are available up to three weeks in advance, and we encourage guests to plan ahead as much as possible for the greatest availability of entry timeslots and the lowest prices. As part of the Museums for All cooperative, the Academy will continue to offer $3 Daytime Admission tickets to EBT, WIC, Lifeline Pass, and Medi-Cal cardholders every day of the year. These tickets are not available online at this time; simply present your card at the ticket window to purchase your $3 tickets. Limit 4 per group per visit.

Is building capacity reduced?
The Academy is open at 20% capacity, which is more conservative than local and state guidelines require, to ensure even more space to physically distance and reduce crowding. This means a healthier, safer, extra-spacious Academy to explore! (Please note that capacity guidelines may change as health and safety recommendations continue to evolve.)

How is capacity monitored?
All guests, including members, are required to reserve timed-entry tickets in advance, with entry times offered in 30-minute timeslots and a limited number of tickets available for each timeslot. This approach encourages guests to space out visits throughout the day and allows Academy staff to accurately estimate occupancy at any given time.

Is there a time limit for Academy visits?
Take your time! While the average guest stays for about three hours, you are welcome to enjoy the Academy safely for as long as you like. Become a member to support science and enjoy unlimited admission year-round!

How does the Academy ensure guests move through the building safely?
In addition to limiting attendance, requiring masks, and promoting physical distancing, we’ve established some “rules of the road” to help guests navigate the museum with plenty of (masked) breathing room. This includes:

  1. Regulating the quantity and pace of guests through certain spaces to promote physical distancing
  2. Creating clearly marked one-way paths through areas like the Amazon Flooded Forest Tunnel and Academy Store
  3. Installing prominent signage, floor decals, and other visual aids to remind guests to stay at least 6 feet apart at all times

We’ll also need your help to keep traffic moving smoothly and safely. Here are some pro-tips to keep in mind during your visit:

  1. Decals are for distancing. The decals on the floor in front of popular exhibits indicate a safe distance to stand. If an area is busy, please come back later.
  2. Be patient. Academy staff may ask you to wait for other groups to exit before entering certain spaces.
  3. Limit lingering. Channel your inner fish and keep it moving through the museum to help reduce “schooling” in front of exhibits.
  4. Be polite and stay to the right. Please yield to faster groups and let people pass on your left whenever possible.
  5. Resist the urge to run. We know it’ll be hard for kids to contain their excitement, but please do your best to encourage little ones to slow down.
Masks

Do I have to wear a mask to visit?
Yes. Wearing a mask is one of our “Three Ws” (wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance) because it’s an easy, affordable, effective way to keep your droplets to yourself and slow the spread of COVID-19. Masks are required for all guests ages 3 and up, as well as all Academy staff, volunteers, contractors, and partners, and must be worn at all times except when actively eating or drinking. Please ensure everyone in your party brings their own mask. If you do not have a mask (or need a quick gift idea), you may purchase a colorful, custom-designed mask at the Academy Store for $12.99 ($9.99 for youth sizes).

What kind of mask can I wear?
Not all masks are created equal! Please ensure your mask:

  • Is made with at least two layers of breathable material (consider wearing a disposable mask under your cloth mask if you are in doubt)
  • Is able to fully cover your nose and mouth and secure under your chin
  • Is snug but comfortable against the side of your face
  • Is securable with ties or ear loops
  • Isn’t made of mesh or porous or transparent material
  • Isn’t equipped with one-way air valves or vents

Also, remember that your mask isn’t a substitute for physical distancing. Even with masks on, you must keep at least 6 feet of distance between your party and other guests and staff at all times.

What's the proper way to wear a mask?
Masks are only effective if they're worn snugly and securely over the nose and mouth—not on your neck, forehead, or chin! For your safety and the safety of everyone around you, please ensure you wear your mask properly at all times while at the Academy. Failure to keep your mask on properly may result in your removal from the museum.   

What if I can’t wear a mask for health reasons?
If you are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability, please email us at info@calacademy.org at least 48 hours before your visit so we can discuss alternative options with you.

I'm fully vaccinated. Do I still have to wear a mask while visiting the Academy?
Yes. CDC guidance continues to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks in public. In addition, the San Francisco Department of Public Health continues to mandate masks.

What if I see someone who’s not wearing a mask or wearing one improperly?
Please do not approach or confront anyone you suspect may be violating any health and safety rules. Simply keep your distance and calmly notify a staff member. Thank you for keeping yourself and others safe!

With certain new and more transmissible virus variants spreading, mask layering and fit are increasingly important. View the CDC’s website for some additional resources on masks.

Hand hygiene

How often should I wash or sanitize my hands?
Maintaining good hand hygiene is a critically important tactic in the fight against COVID-19, which is why it’s one of our “Three Ws:” wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance. A good rule of thumb is to wash or sanitize your hands

  • before entering the Academy
  • before eating
  • after touching door handles, banisters, railings, elevator buttons, glass, or other high-touch surfaces
  • after exploring each exhibit
  • after using the restroom or changing diapers
  • after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face
  • after eating
  • after exiting the Academy

Please also be sure to encourage good hand hygiene with your children while at the museum—and lend a hand if necessary!

Where can I wash or sanitize my hands?
Hand sanitizer stations have been placed in prominent locations throughout the Academy so you’ll never be too far from clean hands. Additionally, there are restrooms on every floor where you can wash up with soap and water.

Should I bring my own hand sanitizer?
While there is plenty of sanitizer available at the Academy, you are welcome to bring your own. The CDC recommends hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Learn more about the importance of hand hygiene at CDC.gov.

Physical distancing

What is physical distancing and why is it important?
Physical distancing, also known as social distancing, is the practice of maintaining at least 6 feet (or 2 meters) of separation between you and other humans not in your immediate household or social bubble. “Watch your distance” is one of our “Three Ws” (wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance) because it’s an easy, effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The greater the distance between humans, the less likely it is for any airborne virus particles to come in contact with others.

How should I physically distance at the Academy?
With the Academy open at 20% capacity, there is plenty of space to enjoy the museum while keeping at least 6 feet of distance between you and other guests and staff. While waiting in line or viewing certain exhibits, please keep an eye out for floor decals, which are spaced 6 feet apart to give you an idea of how to safely distance. It’s also important to ensure your face mask fits properly and snugly at all times, especially in spots where distancing may be difficult. If a specific exhibit or area of the museum is full, please refrain from crowding and simply come back later.

How is the Academy enforcing physical distancing rules?
From physical-distancing decals on the floor to frequent announcements over our PA system to eye-catching signage throughout the museum, guests are never too far from friendly reminders to watch their distance. Should the need arise, Academy staff are on hand to politely remind guests to maintain physical distancing.

What if someone is getting too close for comfort?
Please do not approach or confront anyone you suspect may be violating any health and safety rules. Simply keep your distance and calmly notify a staff member. Thank you for keeping yourself and others safe!

Learn more about the importance of physical distancing at CDC.gov.

Members

How do I reserve my member tickets?
Reserving your free member tickets online is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to your account or create one if you haven’t yet.
    Need help with logging in or creating an account? View the “Account management” FAQ here.
  2. Select an available entry time from the dropdown menu.
    The system defaults to today’s date; to select a different date, use the second dropdown menu.
  3. Select the amount of Adults and Youth in your party using the quantity dropdowns.
    The amount of free tickets you can reserve is based on your membership level.
  4. Proceed to checkout.

After you complete your order, check your inbox for two emails: One is your receipt, the other contains your tickets as a PDF attachment. On the day of your visit, please be sure to have your ticket PDF ready for self-scanning, either on your smartphone (brightness all the way up, please!) or printed out.

How many free tickets can I reserve?
The amount of free tickets you can reserve per order is based on your membership level:

  • Individual and Hive Single: 1 Adult ticket
  • Individual Plus, Senior, Teacher, Hive Double, and Eastwood Associate: 2 Adult tickets
  • Family, Community Value, and Lifetime: 2 Adult, 4 Youth tickets
  • Family Plus and Associate: 6 Adult, 4 Youth tickets
  • All Donor Circle levels: 8 Adult, 6 Youth tickets

Due to the Academy’s reduced capacity, a limited quantity of tickets are available for each timeslot, so please only reserve tickets you know you’ll use!

How often can I reserve my member tickets?
Members can make a maximum of one order per day to ensure enough entry timeslots are available for other members and guests.

Do members still enter at the same place?
Yes, members still enter at the Academy’s main entrance at 55 Music Concourse Drive.

Are there still weekly Member Hours?
Yes! As always, the Academy is open to members-only every Tuesday morning from 8:30-9:30 am and Sunday morning from 10-11 am. Member Hours are a great time to visit since our animals are most active in the morning—and other humans are not! Reserve your Member Hour tickets up to three weeks in advance for the greatest availability.

How do I reserve member NightLife tickets?
Visit the NightLife page, select an event you'd like to attend, and add tickets to your cart. When prompted, log in to your account, and your member discount will be applied automatically before checkout.

Your membership team is here to help. Questions? Drop us a line at membership@calacademy.org and we'll respond as fast as we can.

Dining, shopping, and amenities

What dining options are available?
The Academy Café is open 9 am-4 pm daily, serving family-friendly favorites in a variety of grab-and-go options, as well as Andytown Coffee drinks. To maximize health and safety, diners follow a one-way route through the food service area, tables, condiment stations, and food prep areas are disinfected regularly, plexiglass partitions have been installed at all points of sale, and all seating has been moved outdoors and placed six feet apart in our West Garden.

Will I be able to eat inside?
Yes, but only in the Academy Café! With San Francisco now in the orange tier, we are thrilled to offer guests physically distanced indoor dining in the Academy Café only. Please note that capacity is limited and tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No space inside? Head out to the West Garden for abundant, physically distanced seating, which we clean and disinfect regularly. Whether you're eating indoors or out, please keep your mask on at all times except when actively eating or drinking, and limit each table or bench to one party.

Can guests bring their own food?
Guests are welcome to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages when we reopen. Please head to the East Garden to consume items brought from home. Extra seating will be available, and all tables are placed at least six feet apart.

Is the Academy Store open?
Yes! The Academy Store is open daily, although hours may vary. The shopping experience has also been modified for your safety, and guests will be assisted by store associates to minimize contact with merchandise.

Is cash accepted?
Cash is accepted at all points of sale inside the Academy except locker rental, but cashless payments are preferred whenever possible. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.

Are water fountains available?
Manual water fountains have been disabled for your safety, but automatic, contactless water bottle filling stations are available, so we encourage guests to bring reusable water bottles. Water is also available for sale at the Academy Café.

Are elevators in service?
Yes, but we ask that guests use the stairs whenever possible to reserve elevators for those who need them. One group per elevator, please.

Are lockers available? How often are they cleaned?
Yes, lockers are located just off the main lobby and are available for rent for $5 per day for standard-size lockers and $8 per day for family-size lockers. Lockers are checked frequently and cleaned and disinfected daily. Payment for lockers is by credit card only.

Will I be able to rent a wheelchair?
Yes, wheelchairs are available for guests to use during their visit. Please see a Guest Experience staff member in the Lobby for assistance when you arrive. Wheelchairs are cleaned and disinfected after every use.

Please note

The enhanced health and safety measures described above are intended to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19, but this risk cannot be completely eliminated at the Academy or any other public space. Anyone visiting the Academy acknowledges that they do so at their own risk, and agrees to comply with all posted health and safety rules and staff instructions. The Academy reserves the right to ask any guest who fails to follow health and safety rules or staff instructions to leave the premises. Thank you for your help and your understanding. We’re all in this together!

For more information, please view the Assumption of Risk and Waiver for Entry.

Can't visit quite yet but want to support the museum you love? Make a donation or become a member today.