• Field trip students
  • Activity cart inside the California Academy of Sciences
  • Youth in the museum
  • Demonstration about pollinators
  • Kids exploring skulls

We recognize that bringing a group to the Academy can be intimidating: the learning environment is stimulating and the list of daily events staggering. To assist you with trip planning, we have a few suggestions for selecting daily activities, and we've designed resources for structuring learning.

Tips for Planning a Visit Date

Generally, field trips can be scheduled on most dates with the exception of holidays and school breaks. Your school's academic calendar plays a role: a field trip must occur on a school day, not on weekends, afterschool, or during any dates that are off for students.

For those interested in reserving seats in the Morrison Planetarium for your school group, be sure to review the calendar of student shows to select a date when a grade-appropriate show is playing. Seats are limited; reservations for schools usually book by the end of December for dates through the following May.


Make a Plan!

Choose Your Own Pathway
We recommend aligning your visit with a singular learning objective. Less is more!

  1. Select your learning objective.
  2. Find one exhibit that fits this goal well.
  3. Design a simple self-guided or group activity, or browse through the Academy's scavenger hunts. Emphasize concepts rather than facts. Use things you can observe directly rather than focusing on text. Consider using these scaffolds for field trips that involve a tiny bit of pre-work in students' science notebooks.
  4. Leave time for student exploration, social interaction, and memory-making! Academy staff and docents are scattered throughout the building. Encourage your students to talk with them!
  5. Consider reading this Social Story to prepare younger students for their visit.
  6. Lastly, consider printing the English/Spanish Chaperone Guide or English/Chinese Chaperone Guide for a handy map.
  7. Upon check-in at the Ticket Office on the morning of, you'll read and sign these School Group Guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

A docent answers a guest question in the Rainforest exhibit.

How much does it cost?
San Francisco school groups are admitted free when school is in session. During the 2024-2025 school year, the field trip rate for other eligible school groups from California is $15.95 per person.

Can I explore the Academy before the field trip to plan?
Yes! Field trip organizers can bring their order confirmation to the Ticket Office, and we'll print one complimentary admission ticket for you.


Educator Exhibit Guides

california coast exhibit guide

Consider planning your trip around a particular exhibit that complements your science curriculum. We've developed Educator Exhibit Guides to help you:

  • Plan an Academy field trip around a specific exhibit.
  • Learn about an exhibit’s themes and key concepts to guide students’ experience.
  • Discover Academy-written activities related to the exhibit.
  • Find out about scientific research happening behind-the-scenes.

Feedings & Presentations

african penguins in their exhibit

No two visits to the California Academy of Sciences are alike!

Check the Daily Calendar for programs scheduled for the day of your visit.

Curiosity Grove opens at 10am and the Naturalist Center opens at 12pm.

The Discovery Tidepool in the Aquarium is temporarily closed.


Scavenger Hunts & Museum Worksheets

boy looks closely at skull specimen

Educators are always looking for worksheets and activities to guide student learning. These museum worksheets don't involve finding "the answers," but rather serve as tools to structure your visit around a given theme.

Encourage your students to slow down, make careful observations, and engage in science discourse with their peers!


Sensory Bags & Social Story

Sensory bags with headphones, sunglasses, and fidget toys

If you have children in your group with sensory needs, head over to the Information Desk to borrow a bag containing noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, fidget toys, and other anxiety-reducing touchables. 

You can also plan to visit museum areas that are less likely to be loud, smelly, or visually complex, using the Sensory Guide on the interactive floor map.  

Consider reading this Social Story to prepare students for their visit.


Seeking Transportation Scholarships?

Schools from the 9 Bay Area counties may be eligible for the Let's Go Field Trip Fund from the Environmental Volunteers, Excursion Grants from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, or free BART tickets through Yoots.

Schools from Oakland should check out the A to Z Fund.


Don't Forget to Reflect...

Give students an opportunity to reflect on what they've learned and to revise any initial misconceptions using these simple notebook exercises and sentence starters.

If you'd like to assign a writing project for your students, we love receiving Thank You Letters!

ATTN: Education California Academy of Sciences 55 Music Concourse Drive San Francisco, CA 94118


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Book a Field Trip

For summer visits, email groupsales@calacademy.org, instead. The school field trip application for the 2024-2025 academic year will likely be posted in August. Have a wonderful summer break!

Do you teach elementary school in San Francisco?

The Rock Fund Program is open to K-5 classes in the city of San Francisco. This unique opportunity includes free field trip programming and needs-based transportation scholarships.

Contact us
We're happy to help! Our Contact Center is open daily from 8 a.m. (9 a.m. weekends) to 5 p.m. Send us a note or reach out via email or phone.
(877) 227-3311