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The California Academy of Sciences is a rare example of a surviving museum that is actually still a research institution as well. This is only one of the reasons why it's cool, though:

- It's located in Golden Gate Park across from the Asian Art Museum.

- It's not one but THREE museums: an aquarium, a museum of natural science, and a planetarium.

- It's well-designed and appropriate for both adults and kids, as well as for adults WITH kids.

- You get $1 off with your proof of taking public transit to get there (trust me, you don't want to drive there anyway!)

It has a ton of exhibits at any given time, so wear comfortable shoes. The subjects of exhibits range wildly, from Japanese folk toys (seriously!) to venomous creatures to gemstones. Permanent and semi-permanent exhibits, such as Quake! and the incredible roundabout 360-degree aquarium are also first-rate. The cafeteria isn't too highly recommended, though: it's a real cafeteria (mostly for workers and researchers) and the burritos are about all there is worth eating there. Other than that, though, this is an excellent museum. I look forward to going back.

www.calacademy.org has information, prices, schedules, and directions

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