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California Academy of Sciences

Indoor $$$
Science Museums, Natural History Museums, School Trip, Educational, Green, Special Needs
55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA
URL: California Academy of Sciences...  Phone: 415-379-8000
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Fun Things for Families To Do In San Francisco

The city of San Francisco is a destination just bursting with activities for families with kids of all ages. Whether you are in town for a week or just a weekend there is more than enough to keep the kids entertained.

Here's a short list of attractions we really enjoyed:

1. Exploratorium

Situated on the Embarcadero on Pier 15 in San Francisco, the Exploratorium offers hundreds of exhibits to visitors. The best part is that you are invited to touch and manipulate them! Filled with hands on fun for all ages, the science museum boasts activities which focus on geography, arts, ecology, photography, astronomy, biology, and countless more subjects of interest.

2. California Academy of Sciences

Based in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a destination like no other and a must-see San Francisco museum. It’s the only place on Earth to house an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof. Guests of all ages are welcomed to explore the wonder of life on earth.

From the splashing penguins in African Hall to the wildflowers on the roof, the building is bursting with life. A four-story living rainforest and awe-inspiring coral reef ecosystem showcase Earth’s biodiversity, while immersive planetarium shows offer a new perspective on the planet we call home.

Rain ponchos are highly recommended to protect visitors from the mist on the lower deck during the spring and summer seasons. During other times of the year the lower deck is closed as it ices up. The upper deck, however is well protected and remains open year round. The entire experience takes about 30-45 minutes.

3. Muir Woods

Muir Woods National Monument is a scenic, forested park featuring giant redwood trees, long hiking trails, a visitor center & more. Muir Woods is a unit of the National Park Service on the Pacific coast of southwestern Marin County, California, 12 miles north of San Francisco.

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At 175 feet high The Niagara Skywheel is Canada's largest observation wheel and provides passengers with memorable 360 degree views of the Falls and the surrounding landscape. The Skywheelis open year-round as the fully-enclosed gondolas are equipped with heating and air-conditioning to ensure the comfort of passengers for the 8-12 minute skyride - even in the cold winter months.

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The Niagara Falls area has a number of historical sites that are both educational and fun to explore. Families can learn about the Canadian heroine of the War of 1812 at The Laura Secord Homestead, learn how British soldiers lived at Fort George and Old Fort Erie, or climb Brock's Monument to look over the territory that the British were defending in 1812.

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The Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory is located on the Niagara Parkway only about a 10 minute drive from the Falls. Families can take a self-guided walking tour through the conservatory which features over 2000 colorful butterflies floating freely in the tropical setting. Plan to visit the butterflies for about an hour. There are also horse and carriages that provide relaxing rides through the Botanical Gardens.

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The view from The Skylon Tower Observation Decks (775 feet off the ground) is thrilling in and of itself. Believe it or not, It takes only a 52 second elevator ride for visitors to reach the Observation Decks and experience the breathtaking views of the Falls and surrounding area.

The Tower also features two dining facilities - The Revolving Dining Roomfor award-winning continental cuisine and the Summit Suite Buffet Dining Room for family-affordable casual dining. The lower concourse of The Skylon Tower also has a indoor entertainment center and a food court with convenient quick-service restaurants like Pizza Pizza, Dairy Queen, Mr. Sub and Starbucks.

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If your kids like midway rides and games then they will love Clifton Hill, known as the world-famous street of fun. Attraction highlights in Clifton Hill include:

  • The Great Canadian Midway - with over 300 games
  • Dinosaur Adventure Golf - miniature golf among prehistoric giants
  • Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum - over 500 mind-boggling displays of rare and amusing oddities
  • Movieland Wax Museum of the Stars - take pictures with the wax versions of top television, movie and music celebrities
  • FX Ride Theatre - motion simulator ride through a fun house

The Clifton Hill area is also home to a number of chain restaurants popular with families including The Rainforest Cafe and The Hard Rock Cafe. The kids will also enjoy shopping on Clifton Hill where they can browse for novelties at The Fun Factory, satisfy a sweet tooth at The Fudge Factory or find a Canadian souvenir at Canada Trading.

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Visitors can access this 305 metre (1/4 mile) boardwalk along the Niagara River via elevator and tunnel. There are also stairs to two observation decks which provide a close up look at one of the world's fastest stretches of white water. The water rushes through the rapids here at speeds around 30 miles/hr making it a "Class 6 rapids" which is pretty rough indeed.

The White Water Walk is open seasonally from late April to mid-November. Free parking is available. Admission may be purchased separately or as part of the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass. Children 5 and under are free.

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If you are in Niagara Falls you it's quite fun to visit the quaint village of Niagara-on-the-Lake located just a short drive away. It's a charming little village with unique shopping and boutiques, lovely hotels and world-class theater at The Shaw Festival. The village also has the only Ontario outlet of COWS Ice Cream, the world-famous ice cream from Prince Edward Island. It is very easy to spend an afternoon in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

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Niagara's Fury is a family-friendly multi-sensory 4-D attraction that requires ponchos - which means you will most likely be getting wet. The experience starts with a cute animated character named Chip the Beaver who is working on a project about how Niagara Falls was formed during the Ice Age.

When this pre-show is over the audience moves into a specially-designed 360 degree theater with drains in the floor where the multi-sensory aspect of the experience becomes clear. The temperature drops, the floor moves and the drenching begins - a few minutes later you will feel like you have gone over Niagara Falls! Niagara's Fury is located in the Table Rock Welcome Center at 6650 Niagara Parkway is open year-round - hours vary depending on time of year.

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This recently-renovated museum has two permanent exhibits and one temporary exhibit space which provide a great introduction to the history of the area and many opportunities for interactive hands-on learning experiences. Kids will enjoy trying on a replica uniform while exploring the Gale Family War of 1812 Gallery which houses a collection of important artifacts relating to the war. The Community Gallery on the 2nd floor highlights various aspects of the community of Niagara Falls and also offers several fun interactive exhibits.

13. Stay at a Water Park Hotel

There are a number of choices of family-friendly accommodations in Niagara Falls which include water parks and are very popular with kids. You can make the the water theme complete giving the kids lots of splashy evening fun while grown ups kick back and relax. They include:

    • Great Wolf Lodge Niagara - Guests can check into cabin-themed rooms and then enjoy a 100,000 sq.ft. indoor water park with thrilling slides for the big kids and zero-entry pools for the little ones. The fun doesn't end in the water park as the resort also has an arcade, miniature golf, a Kid's Spaand the Cub Club activity and craft centre.
    • The Americana Niagara features the 25 000 sq.ft. Waves Indoor Waterpark with a retractable roof which provides the option of year-round fun.

    Now you have your itinerary set, it's time to visit the Falls. Don't worry if you don't get to everything on the list - if there is one thing for certain it's that your kids are going to want to come back.

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