Visiting the Cal Academy

I’ve been meaning to go check out the California Academy of Sciences ever since they completed their renovation and re-opened last year, but I’ve never found the time to make my way over there… until now.  Pdho’s company is a corporate sponsor so with that comes a few perks, one of which is a private tour and free entrance to the Cal Academy, which we happily took advantage of a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, like my visit, it’s taken me a little time to get around to posting about it, but I’m finally doing it.

The only time I have been to the Academy was back in college when it was a field trip component for some class I was taking.  I remember it being pretty interesting back then, but it is definitely much nicer now.  Everything is brand spanking new and clean.  The architecture is very modern, and the overall space is beautifully filled with lots of light.  Keeping in line with San Francisco’s desire to be green, the whole design of the building and how it functions is all about using energy efficiently, reducing the carbon footprint, and preserving the natural world. Typical San Francisco….

We entered from the back entrance and we were greeted by the most interesting looking host… Claude, the albino alligator.  Albino alligators are very rare, because they are immediately preyed upon due to their inability to blend into their environments.

Another interesting feature of the new building is something called  “The Living Roof” which is probably the most visible symbol of sustainability.  It’s basically a rooftop garden filled with all sorts of vegetation and plants.  Somehow the design and function is focused on recycling the rain water and generating energy to run the entire building.  What is most eye catching and unique is the undulating structure of the roof.  Supposedly, it is supposed to be a tribute to San Francisco’s own hilly topography.

The other interesting area that I enjoyed was the Rainforests of the World and the Steinhardt Aquarium.  I just find the variety of fishies in their tranquil aquatic environments to be so pretty.

Our excursion couldn’t be complete without a visit to the Academy Cafe, which along with the Moss Room, was developed by Charles Phan (The Slanted Door) and Loretta Keller (Coco500).  The Academy Cafe is the more casual option of the two, but it is still a cafeteria-style eatery,  only much nicer with higher quality food.  We shared the Caesar Salad, Fried Calamari and Fresh Spring Rolls.  The calamari was pretty disappointing, and the Caesar Salad was passable. The only thing I enjoyed were the Fresh Spring Rolls which were just like the ones that I ALWAYS get at Out the Door.

All in all, it was a great day… Unfortunately, it was still kind of cold and gloomy by the time we got done, so we didn’t want to hang out much longer than we needed to…. Imagine how much more popular Golden Gate Park might be if the weather was better in that part of town. Hehe!


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