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Behind-the-Scenes Steinhart Aquarium Tour – San Francisco

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Key Highlights
  • Get the inside track on the workings of a phenomenal aquarium
  • Meet an amazing albino alligator!
  • See African penguins and view a giant Pacific octopus
  • Close encounters with sharks and stingrays
  • Check out the fearsome teeth on a piranha
  • VIP entrance to the Rainforests of the World Exhibit
  • Reserved Planetarium Seats
  • Activity Schedule
    When does it run?



    Approx. 2 hours

    Start time

    Start time: 1:00pm & 3:00pm (Please arrive 15 minutes early to check in)
    Academy hours:
    Monday – Saturday: 09:30am – 5:00pm
    Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm
    Duration: Approx. 2 hours

    Meeting Point

    You should make your way to, The Academy, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Park, San Francisco, CA, 94118 (located in Golden Gate Park).

    Ending Point

    The excursion ends at the California Academy of Sciences

  • Overview & Itinerary
    Overview Enter a world of wonders when you take this exclusive tour of the magnificent Steinhart Aquarium! Its Living Collection houses 38,000 live animals from around the world, representing more than 900 separate species.

    This insider tour tells the story of this celebrated Aquarium and how biologists care for the 38,000 animals that live there. Visit the food prep kitchen, see the complex water filtration system, and much more.

    The tour does not visit all the public exhibits so you are encouraged to explore the Aquarium on your own before or afterwards.

    During your visit you can marvel at the myriad colors found under the sea and view a thrilling range of aquatic life at one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world.

    Discover all kinds of things you never knew about the courtship and mating strategies of the animal kingdom!

    You can also meet Claude, the albino alligator and reigning king of the Swamp Gallery!

    At the Discovery Tidepool, you can touch and examine a wide variety of ocean creatures!


    Your enthralling Behind-the-Scenes Steinhart Aquarium Tour – San Francisco begins at the California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Park, located in Golden Gate Park. You can exchange your booking voucher for your ticket at the Academy itself.

    This exclusive tour gives you the chance to go behind the scenes with an expert guide to learn about the history of Steinhart Aquarium and how staff look after the 38,000 animals – butterflies, fish, penguins, even an albino alligator – that live on the premises. Find out how food is prepared, how the cleaning is done, how the tanks are supplied with water, and much more on this exclusive aquarium tour.

    The Behind-the-Scenes tour does not visit all of the public exhibits at the Aquarium so you are strongly advised to explore the venue before or after the tour. Among the highlights of the Aquarium are the following:

    Animal Attraction:, showcasing some of the wildest courtship and mating strategies in the animal kingdom. In 18 beautiful tanks, the exhibit illuminates the concept that nothing in life is more important than reproductive success.

    Philippine Coral Reef Gallery: This is one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world and shows you a broad range of aquatic life from the coral reefs and mangroves of the Philippines, one of the most diverse reef systems on Earth. These animals include delicate soft and hard corals, blacktip reef sharks, stingrays, and more than 2,000 colorful reef fish.

    Northern California Coast Gallery: This focuses on the habitats of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. You’ll smell the seawater as you make your way across a walkway along the surface and witness the filling and draining of tide-pools as waves spill onto a small beach. A large underwater window reveals the eels, anemones, sea stars, rockfish, herring, sardines, and urchins that live beneath the water's surface. Nearby tanks feature a giant sea bass and a giant Pacific octopus.

    The Swamp Gallery: Here you’ll meet Claude, an albino American alligator, and several alligator snapping turtles. You can view the animals from the surface as well as from an underwater window. A tank of fearsome alligator gars, which look like alligators but are actually fish, faces the Swamp. Look out for venomous animals, like the black widow spider or the eastern diamondback snake!

    Your tour ticket also includes VIP entrance to the Rainforests of the World Exhibit, reserved seats in the Planetarium and 10% Discount in The Moss Room restaurant and Academy Gift Shops.

    The tour ends at the Academy and afterwards you are free to make your own way back to your accommodation.

  • Inclusions & Exclusions
    • English speaking guide
    • Admission to The California Academy of Sciences
    • 1 hour guided tour & Behind-the-Scenes Access
    • VIP entrance to the Rainforests of the World Exhibit
    • Reserved Planetarium Seats
    • 10% Discount in The Moss Room restaurant and Academy Gift Shops
    • Transportation
    • Food and beverages
  • Please note & Additional info
    Please note

    Please call the activity operator at least 24 hours prior to start of the tour for reconfirming departure details.

    Please exchange your voucher with tickets up to an hour before closing.

    Guests must be 8 or older to participate in this tour.

    Please arrive 15 minutes early at the meeting point to check in.

    Parking in Golden Gate Park can be challenging, especially on weekends and holidays. Taking public transportation or getting dropped-off is highly encouraged.

    Additional info

    The confirmation voucher includes the local activity operator’s contact details and local telephone numbers at the destination. They will happily answer any logistical questions you may have.

    Guests are encouraged to explore the museum exhibits before or after the tour. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour does not visit all of the public exhibits.

    This tour is ADA accessible.

    Elements of the Behind-the-Scenes Tour and exhibits at the Academy are subject to change without prior notice

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