Steinhart Aquarium :- Detailed Family Guide

Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Steinhart Aquarium is a part of the California Academy of Sciences. It is a fine mix of an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and rainforest.
With a diverse range of flora and fauna, Steinhart Aquarium San Francisco is one of the best getaways for families to spend a day full of adventure and activities. Click here to know more 
The aquarium has about 40,000 animals along with a collection of about 900 unique species. It is also home to 60 species of marine invertebrates and 3 species of marine mammals.
Besides, offering a recreational experience to visitors, the aquarium also works towards saving and rehabilitating marine life. 
It has many programs and missions at all times that run smoothly with the help of volunteers and permanent staff.
So whether you want to enjoy the plethora of sea animals living in their natural habitat or you are a marine enthusiast with a drive to conserve aquatic life, Steinhart Aquarium has something for you. Let’s explore in details about this magnificent abode of aquatic life.

Steinhart Aquarium history

The old Steinhart Aquarium was built in 1923 at the Golden Gate and gained popularity for its unique exhibits and rare animals. However, the aquarium was remodeled and modernized in 1963 and 1977, with many new exhibits added. In 2008, the aquarium got its new look with a vaulted ceiling, the seahorse railing and dramatic entrance columns.
Today, the Steinhart Museum is part of the California Academy of Sciences’ and is one of the most-visited aquariums in the United States. You can read up about its history from the Steinhart Aquarium Wikipedia page. Click here to know more 

Speciality of Steinhart Aquarium

Steinhart Aquarium is an integral part of the California Academy of Sciences’ and houses a wide range of sea animals, many of whom have been rescued. One of the main attractions are the deadly Steinhart Aquarium sharks.
You can visit the aquarium for pure recreational purposes or to gain some insight into the lives of these magnificent marine creatures. There are many features and events that set apart this museum and make it an enjoyable learning platform. Let’s find out.

  1. YouTube


  1. Steinhart Aquarium free admission

Many days of the year visitors are given free admission into the aquarium. For instance on Steinhart Aquarium San Francisco free day you do not have to pay any entrance fee.
Also, there are special discounts for military personnel and members. You can get the latest information from the official website. 

  1. Steinhart Aquarium dining

You can enjoy some great dining options while exploring Steinhart Aquarium. From having a fine dining experience at a multi cuisine restaurant to having freshly baked pastries, gourmet coffee and more at The Academy Cafe. There is something delicious to relish for every palate.  

  1. Sleepovers

If you want to explore the exhibits in the dark, then you got yourself an opportunity. At Steinhart Aquarium, you can discover the deepest and darkest depths of the ocean,
travel through the rainforests while lying in your sleeping bag. So get ready to come face to face with Claude the albino alligator and watch the magnificent coral reefs in this overnight stay at the aquarium.

  1. Birthday Party Sleepovers

Celebrate your birthday in a unique way with a new virtual birthday at the Steinhart Aquarium. There would be a zoom room or decorated party room with many party favors and sweet treats. There would be a special gift for the birthday child with many guided activities. The base package costs $400 for 10 children and 11 for members and every additional guest is charged $40 per child. 

  1. Creature Crafts

This is an additional package for birthdays where all guests will be given a handcrafted keepsake, cupcakes and juices, guided animal-themed craft, a decorated party space for 2 hours, party favors, gift for birthday child and all-day admission to the Academy.
It is priced at $729 for members and $799 for general public for 16 guests (including birthday child and family). Any additional guests would be charged $40 per person.

  1. Canoy Quest

Children explore the rainforest to discover a plethora of animal species in this special Steinhart Aquarium event. This is another package to celebrate birthdays. It includes scavenger hunt in addition to all the inclusions in the Creature Crafts package.

  1. Small Fry Storytime

In this Steinhart Aquarium birthday party, you can have the little ones listen to interesting and captivating science-based stories along with all the inclusions in the Creature Crats package.
This is priced at $629 for members and $699 for public for 16 guests (including birthday child and family). Any additional guest is charged $40 per person.

  1. Animal web cams

Watch all the deadly sea creatures of Steinhart Aquarium in HD or voyage to the Farallon Islands through the live web cams placed at certain exhibits.
There are live webcams at the Penguin exhibit, reef lagoon, Philippine coral reef, farallon islands and also at the Coral Spawning lab. 

Steinhart Aquarium tickets

Steinhart Aquarium admission is quite affordable with many discounts and offers on at all times. Due to the ongoing COVID – 19 pandemic, only online booking for tickets is allowed.
Members will be able to reserve online tickets from October 5 while the general public will be able to book tickets from October 14. Only 25% of the actual capacity will be allowed. Hence, pre-booking is advised. Steinhart Aquarium price of tickets will be available on the website. 

Steinhart Aquarium membership

Becoming a member of the Steinhart Aquarium California Academy of Sciences works out to be beneficial as you get Steinhart Aquarium discount tickets.
It has an annual membership of $99 or $6 for a month. This means that you can have unlimited access to the academy and the aquarium in a year.
In addition, there are many Steinhart Aquarium coupons that offer discounted prices for tickets and for dining experience too.
For instance, you can take Steinhart Aquarium groupon and avail great benefits. All you have to do is give the promo code for Steinhart Aquarium at the entrance or at the restaurant and enjoy a feast of discounts and freebies.

Steinhart Aquarium gift shop

From beautifully crafted jewelry, books, toys to sustainable crafts, the gift shop has a plethora of options to buy as souvenirs for yourself or as mementos for loved ones.
You can also take Steinhart Aquarium pictures during your visit and get them framed at the gift shop, as a fond remembrance of your visit. Or convert them into posters and put them up on your wall. Each item at the gift shop is unique and special of the place, reminding you of the unique experience you have had. 

Steinhart Aquarium exhibits

Steinhart Aquarium
Get ready for an explosive time at the Steinhart Aquarium with excitement peeking from under every rock and inside each tank. Dive into the world’s deepest living reef tank, be surrounded by a four-level rainforest display and be mesmerized by an ever-changing Water Planet exhibit.
No where will you see such diversity of animals. All the Steinhart Aquarium animals are here to show you the beautiful life that exists in the deepest parts of the oceans and the crucial role the marine environment plays to balance life on Earth.

  1. Coral Reef

Measuring 12,000 sq feet with 212,000 gallons of water, the coral reef tank is the deepest exhibit of live corals across the world. You can see the exhibit from the surface as well as from five underwater windows.
The exhibit has myriad aquatic life in it from coral reefs, mangroves of the Philippines to sharks, rays and about 2,000 unique, colorful reef fish.
You can see the Steinhart Aquarium great white shark here too. The exhibit has many interactive displays and also diver presentations where you see fearless divers feeding the fish, maintaining the exhibits and also interacting with the visitors.

  1. Rainforests of the world

Steinhart Aquarium
Walk into the world of flora at the Rainforests of the World exhibit. Contained in a glass about 90 feet tall, this Steinhart Aquarium exhibit shows four different rainforest environments.
You move through the exhibit by circling up a sloping ramp and once on top you descend down through the trees in a glass elevator.
As you come down you see four distinct rainforests, including the Borneo Rainforest Floor, the Amazonian Flooded Forest, the Costa Rica Rainforest Canopy and the Madagascar Rainforest Understory.
As you walk through these rainforests you can see varied animals such as giant catfish,giant anaconda, piranhas, flying lizards, gliding frogs,bright green geckos and many more.

  1. California Coast

This new Steinhart Aquarium exhibit has a variety of displays showcasing a range of habitats; from turbulent rocky inlets to salt marshes. It has myriad native fish birds and invertebrates, representing the rich and diverse habitats.
In the main tank with 100,000 gallons of water, you can see marine habitats of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary with a specially created wave surge system.
Walking along the surface of the California Coast tank you can smell the seawater and watch the sea creatures as waves roll out into the salt marsh. The Discovery Tidepool exhibit lets you interact with some of the live plants and sea animals.
Some of the other displays in the California Coast exhibit are the Southern California Kelp Forest, home to the colorful Garibaldis and other fish and the Tank of Giants that have the giant sea bass and halibut.

  1. The Swamp

As the name suggests, the Swamp is home to all the deadly alligators, snakes and turtles. There are many different kinds of Steinhart Aquarium alligators in this exhibit along with rattlesnakes, frogs and salamanders.
However, the main attraction is the Steinhart Aquarium Aalbino American alligator living in perfect harmony with the other reptiles. 
You can also get to see the Steinhart Aquarium two headed snake in one of the exhibits, lying peacefully in complete camouflage. A special storytelling time is kept for visitors to know about the natural history and human culture of the swamps of the United States.

  1. African Penguin Habitat

Watch the playful penguins at The Steinhart Aquarium’s colony of African penguins in the African Hall. This colony of 17 penguins can be seen through a 26 feet wide and 11 feet tall window.
The 25,000 gallon tank has got stimulated wave action to help the birds feel at home and mimic their natural environment. Each penguin has a colorful wing band that helps distinguish one from the other. Steinhart Aquarium webcam is placed all over the exhibit to monitor their movements.

  1. Water Planet

Appreciate the connection between the ocean and the sea animals, in this exhibit with over 100 tanks. You can see fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, invertebrates and more through interactive displays.
It also has a video on the importance of water on Earth, in order to make people aware of the need to conserve this precious resource.  

Steinhart Aquarium hours

The aquarium is open from Monday-Saturday between 9:30-5 pm and on Sunday between 11 am-5 pm. For members, there are special only-member hours on Tuesday between 8:30-9:30 am and on Sunday, 10-11 am. 

Steinhart Aquarium jobs

If you love being around sea animals and have the desire to conserve them, then a job at the Steinhart Aquarium is ideal for you.
Here you get a workspace to live with about 40,000 animals and help in their survival. From designing interactive exhibits to feeding and upkeep of the animals and being a part of the administration of the aquarium. You can browse through the latest jobs openings from the official website
Besides taking on a regular job, you can also volunteer at the Steinhart Aquarium and hone your skills, learn about the ocean and its unexplored life. There are many internship programs too, where you get hands-on training and experience of how to engage with aquatic life.

Where is Steinhart Aquarium

Steinhart Aquarium is located at 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118 in the premises of California Academy of Sciences. You can take public transport, drive and even bicycle to the venue.
The closest airport to the Academy is the San Francisco Airport, located at a distance of about 18.5 km. You can take a bus, taxi or a shuttle service from the airport to the Academy. The bus is the least expensive but can take about one hour to reach the venue while a car or shuttle will take about 25 minutes.
Use the Steinhart Aquarium map to know the exact location in case of self-drive. Here are the directions to Steinhart Aquarium

  • Public Transport

You can reach the Academy either through bus or metro. For the metro take the N-Judah Muni Metro that stops at the 9th Avenue and Irving Street. From there you travel to Golden Gate Park till you reach Music Concourse Drive and then take a right to the Academy’s entrance.
If you are taking a bus, that #44 – O’Shaughnessy bus. It stops at the Music Concourse on Tea Garden Drive (southbound) and right in front of the Academy on Music Concourse Drive (northbound).
You can also take the #5-Fulton bus, which stops at 8th Avenue and Fulton Street, right outside the park. You will need to walk a little on John F. Kennedy Drive and then turn right towards Music Concourse Drive.
You could also take the Golden Gate Park shuttle to travel within the park premises. It only operates on holidays and weekends between 9 am and 6pm.

  • Bicycling

You can take bikes kept on Music Concourse Drive and ride to the Academy.

  • Self-drive

If you are driving your own vehicle to Steinhart Aquarium. You can either travel from the North Bay/101 South or South Bay /I-280 North or from the East Bay/I-80 West. Get detailed directions from here.  

Steinhart Aquarium parking

There is ample parking space at the academy. You can park your vehicle at the Music Concourse Garage, an underground parking space located only a few steps away from the Academy’s main entrance. The charges for the parking are $5/hour weekdays, $6/hour weekends; $17 flat rate after 5:30 pm.
You can also street park within Golden Gate Park for free for 3-4 hours on MLK, Jr. Drive, JFK Drive and Nancy Pelosi Drive.

Is Steinhart Aquarium open?

The Steinhart Aquarium will open for members and donors on October 13 and for the general public on October 23.

Hotels near Steinhart Aquarium

Lodging is no hassle while in San Francisco. From luxurious resorts to budget hotels, there is a wide variety of choices for you.
The main idea is to stay as close to Steinhart Aquarium so that commuting is not a challenge. Here are a few great hotel recommendations for you. Please note that the hotel tariffs listed above are tentative. These prices are subject to change. 

  1. Hotel Drisco Pacific Heights

With a vintage of 1903, the Hotel Drisco Pacific Heights lends a traditional elegance along with modern amenities. Located only 3.2 km from Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco, it is ideal for those who want to enjoy a luxurious holiday and at the same time be close to the venue. The rooms are priced at $365 per night.

  1. Hotel Kabuki

Located about 3.8 km from Steinhart Aquarium San Francisco Golden Gate Park, the Hotel Kabuki, makes for a great choice for those looking at comfortable rooms, basic facilities but good value for money. Each room is priced at $255 per night and offers a beautiful ambiance and aesthetics.

  1. Stanyan Park Hotel

Ideally located only 1.2 km from Steinhart Aquarium Golden Gate Park, this award-winning hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers amazing comfort, distinguished style and great hospitality along with great dining options. Rooms are priced at $200 per night.

  1. Geary Parkway Motel

Centrally located to all the city’s main attractions, the Geary Park Motel is only 1.3 km from Steinhart Aquarium. It has 20 guest rooms with comfortable bedding and all the additional in-room facilities. Priced at $110 per night, it is perfect for those on a shoestring budget.

  1. Super 8 by Wyndham San Francisco

Located in Marina District close to the Golden Gate Bridge, this budget-friendly hotel is priced at $100 per night. About 4 km from Steinhart Aquarium San Francisco CA, it is a good choice for those with a self-drive facility.

Restaurants near Steinhart Aquarium

While roaming around within the Steinhart Aquarium you can find many cafes and restaurants to satiate your hunger pangs. Besides those there are some great dining options within walking distance of the aquarium.

  • The Terrace – An all-cuisine dining with great ambiance
  • The Academy Cafe – Healthy place to grab a bite.
  • De Young Cafe – A specialist in American and European classic cuisine.
  • Sam’s Grill And Seafood Restaurant- One of the oldest restaurants in the United States, it takes you back in time. Coquille Saint Jacques, with mushrooms in cream sauce and lobster Thermador are two of their classics. 
  • Pacific Catch – Indulge in some great seafood with healthy salads and snacks options 


Other attractions in the vicinity

If you have time to spare in San Francisco, it is a place to let loose and indulge in fun things. Besides the Steinhart Aquarium, the city boasts of a vast collection of museums, lakes and parks. Here is a list of the best things to do while in San Francisco.

  • Shakespeare Garden
  • Japanese Tea Garden
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum
  • Exploratorium
  • Children’s Creativity Museum
  • Koret Children’s Quarter
  • Randall Museum


Steinhart Aquarium vs Aquarium of the Bay

Steinhart Aquarium is part of the California Academy of Sciences and houses myriad sea animals and flora of the marine world. It is an entire ecosystem waiting to be explored with many volunteer and internship programs for those interested in conserving marine life. 
The Aquarium of the Bay is a smaller, standalone aquarium with a lot of different types of fish and other sea animals. It has 20,000 marine animals that can be seen in walk-through tunnel exhibits and touchpools.
It is best to read about the Aquarium of the Bay and Steinhart Aquarium reviews to know more about it. However, if you are in the vicinity for a longer period, then a trip to both the aquariums is recommended.


A part of the California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium is a living collection of a much larger museum. You can visit it on its own or as part of the bigger CAS experience, to get a peek into the undersea world and its myriad animal life. 
When the aquarium opened it was a model aquarium due to its unique exhibits and different animals. After many renovations, now the Steinhart Aquarium has become one of the most popular aquariums in the United States with many halls and galleries.
Be it the exotic Philippine Coral Reef, the expansive Northern California Coast, the vast Water Planet or the dense Rainforest; there is a world waiting to be explored.
Besides enjoying the sights and sounds of the aquarium, you can also be an active part of it and volunteer to help with some programs.
With many such volunteer programs and internships planned all through the year, the Steinhart Aquarium works towards making more people aware about marine life and the importance of its conservation. So if you have an interest in marine life and want to learn more about it, Steinhart Aquarium is a great place to begin. 
Come spend a fun day in this world of deep blue waters, sea creatures and dense flora, you will surely be mesmerized!

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