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4.5 star rating: Recommended 35 Reviews

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  • Location:San Francisco, California
  • Duration:Varies

Skip the Line: California Academy of Sciences Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Skip the line and go behind-the-scenes at San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences – the only place on Earth with an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and 4-story rainforest all under one (living) roof! On this small-group insider tour, enjoy an intimate look at either the academy’s research focus or animal life. Choose the Academy Tour to explore a lab, see the collection of rare gems and learn about the museum's history and scientists. Choose the Aquarium Tour to see and learn how the animals are cared for that live in the building. Both options include a reserved ticket to Morrison Planetarium and express entry to Rainforests of the World.


  • Skip-the-line admission to the California Academy of Sciences, the largest public ‘green’ building in the United States
  • Choose between two 1-hour, behind-the-scenes tours
  • On the Academy Tour, learn about the museum’s science research and visit a working lab
  • On the Aquarium Tour, learn about the museum’s 38,000 animals and visit the food-prep kitchen
  • Receive a reserved seat at Morrison Planetarium, the largest digital planetarium in the world
  • Receive an express entry to Rainforests of the World
  • Small-group tour limited to 14 people ensures an intimate experience

Why Our Insiders Chose This Tour

A cool treat for science and animal lovers of all ages! Learn more about this impressive museum from the scientists and staff that are its lifeblood. See the museum exhibits on your own before or after the tour -- it's pretty awesome skipping the lines at each attraction with your VIP ticket!

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Skip the Line: California Academy of Sciences Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Coral Reef at the California Academy of Sciences

No matter which behind-the-scenes tour you choose, you’ll dive deep into the California Academy of Sciences, learning about its commitment to science, research, education and conservation, both inside the exhibits and around the world.

Academy Tour
On this insider-access tour, explore the ‘world’s greenest museum’ from a science and research perspective. With your museum guide, learn about the institution's 159-year history and how its scientists are tackling critical questions about life on Earth. Visit the research collections and a working laboratory, get closer to the living roof, and see breathtaking geology specimens in the vault.

Aquarium Tour
With this option, learn about the history of Steinhart Aquarium and how biologists care for the 38,000 animals – including butterflies, fish, penguins and even an albino alligator – that live in the building. Visit the food-prep kitchen and see the complex water filtration system.

Both options include general admission to the museum, so you can visit all of the exhibits at your leisure before or after your tour. You’ll also receive a reserved seat at Morrison Planetarium and express entrance to Rainforests of the World, a 4-story rainforest exhibit that takes you through many of the planet’s eco-systems.

Customer Reviews

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2015

This was great value for money. No queuing and a very interesting and informative tour behind the scenes! The only way to do it with a Skip the line, behind the scenes tour ticket! Thank you

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2015

Enjoyed the day!! Was delayed from getting the appropriate tickets which required us waiting for approx. 15 minutes because our name was not on their list! Once that was cleared up they requested we wait to speak with a Manager. Were told this happens with Viator your system not communicating with theirs in a timely manner After another 15 minutes, when he arrived, he had no clue as to why they asked us to wait for him! A real time waste not only once but twice. He ended up being our tour guide and did an excellent job! The rest of the day was awesome!!

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

Very interesting and my son enjoyed it immensely.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2015


5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2015

The behind the scenes tour of the aquarium was interesting, informative, and delightful. The tour guide was full of information and the details included in the tour added to the overall experience. What really made the difference was the skip the line feature! We were whisked into the main attractions immediately by the skip the line feature easily savings us hours of waiting for an attraction. We visited on a very busy day, but even on slow days, this feature was worth every penny! BRAVO!!

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2014

A hidden gem. A great museum and experience

5 star rating: Highly Recommended January 2014

The tour itself was fabulous, however somehow I was not signed up for the tour and had to rebook in person when I got there. The staff at the Academy were able to overcome this problem.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2013

Would recommend this touw to all who go to the museums in the San Francisco area. They tell you so much information behind the scenes and you are up close and personal with the workings of the museum.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2013

Outstanding adventure.. now addicted to segway tours. tour guide was the best

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2013

We have been to the Academy before but the "behind scene tour" made it very special. Our grandson and his friend (both 14) voted it the best thing we did.

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Tour code: 5072BTS


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