Port of Wonder

Port of Wonder


The California Academy of Sciences was one of the stops made during my sister's visit not too far back.  This multidisciplinary museum is located just across from the de Young in Golden Gate Park, and seems as though it has risen from the grassy hills itself.  Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, The Academy is an all encompassing scientific wonderland.  Under its roof, the academy houses a rainforest ecosystem, a planetarium, aquarium, a natural history museum, theater, and thousands of live animals, as well as the requisite over priced restaurant, cafe, and gift shop.  We began our journey in the rainforest.




The rainforest ecosystem enclosure at the Academy is a sphere-like enclosure that houses free-flying birds and butterflies, and many tropical species of plants and animals.  The spiraling walkway leads you through the various levels of the forest structure, from undergrowth to the canopy.  This is a favorite exhibit of mine, though it does wreak some havoc on my tresses.  Humidity and my hair have never gotten along... 

The higher you ascended, the clearer the view of the framework of the habitat.  Not only can you see upward and through the glass roof of the enclosure, but also below to the aquarium that lies beneath.  It is at the peak of the rainforest that you are then delivered into the belly of the beast.  A quick check in the wall of mirrors makes sure that no butterflies are following along on the voyage, and the elevators take you through a cross section of wildlife and water. 




The doors open up to a delight of aquatic fantasy.  The tubular hallway slices through the pool of water that lies at the bottom of the rainforest habitat.  Glancing up, you can catch an undulating view of those exploring above.  Wandering deeper into the aquarium, we came across a tidepool exhibit which displayed an array of sea stars and urchins in a shallow tank.  Observing other visitors, we joined in and were able to 'pet' a few of the animals.  


Here is Miranda, gingerly approaching an urchin.  These little purple puffs were not as inhospitable to the touch as was expected, but unfamiliar territory nonetheless...  We adventured through and were greatly delighted over nearly all that the Academy had to offer (over priced features avoided), and I only wish we had the time to explore more.