So we've taken a few trips to the CA Academy of Sciences since it opened last fall. We like this place a lot! For a city museum The Academy has packed a lot into a relatively limited space (planetarium, aquarium, natural history museum, exhibits). The building architecture is way cool, and the aquarium goes on and on and on! The kids really enjoyed watching the penguins swim around and the butterflies fly about the bio-dome.
I was a little disturbed by reports of mistreatment of the albino alligator, Claude. Most albino alligators are blind, as is The Academy's. Recent removal for "medical reasons" only further confirms suspicions that Claude probably is not too keen on being stuck in a tank with a bunch of biting comrades either.
Since the place just opened it's probably a good idea to go on a weekday if you can...the weekend crowds are pretty dense, but you can still see most of the exhibits less the rain forest bio-dome if you don't arrive when it opens.
The food at the Cafe and Restaurant was pretty awesome as far as museum dining goes. They had a large selection of hot "sit down" and cold "grab-n-go" options, as well as a plethora of beverages. My sister was pleased with her ricotta and egg tart, and I enjoyed my relatively low key quesadilla and guacamole. Lastly, the outdoor, fenced patio area is perfect for kids to run and play while the grown-ups have some conversation time.
It would be easy to spend a small fortune for a family of 4 here. If you plan on going more than once a year it's probably a good bet to buy a membership.