Quick: talk about river otters. Here are a few facts to get you started: they're members of the weasel family, they can swim at speeds reaching 7 miles per hour, and a group of them is known, tellingly, as a romp. The keepers at Aquarium of the Bay have spent months studying these sorts of facts and figures, studiously preparing for the arrival of their brand-new residents. In Otters: Watershed Ambassadors, these river kings and queens get some well-earned attention, with exhibits tracing everything from their daily habits to their conservation status.
The otters aren't alone, of course. The 50,000 square foot facility houses three main exhibit areas devoted entirely to marine life native to San Francisco Bay. These include Under the Bay, where Moon Jellies float amidst ambient lighting inside a 725-gallon cylinder tank. They share the exhibit with two tunnel tanks, which provide an undersea view of giant Pacific octopuses, spiny dogfish, swirling schools of anchovies, and the sevengill shark, the largest shark native to the bay. Visitors eager to put their other senses to work can head over to the aquarium's touch pools, where their fingertips can graze juvenile bat rays, leopard sharks, and sea stars.
Daily programs enrich visits with interactive presentations in the Bay Lab?the aquarium's land animal area?including feeding shows. And though not included in this Groupon and membership, behind the scenes tours escort guests through all of the aquarium's highlights. Over in the Bay Theater, 3D films and award-winning documentaries examine subjects such as shark species and marine conservation, while magician Timothy Noonan's 75-minute interactive show blends family-friendly comedy with illusions such as pulling a whale out of a hat.
When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in October 2012, they did it with the unlikeliest of good luck charms: a baby françois’ langur. The tiny monkey had been born at the San Francisco Zoo, and its arrival coincided with a winning streak for the Giants. In honor of this serendipitous connection, the zoo named the orange-headed monkey Romo, after the relief pitcher who clinched the World Series championship. Today, guests to the San Francisco Zoo can visit Romo and several of her monkey buddies at the Doelger Primate Discovery Center, which is just one of dozens of meticulously crafted animal exhibits.
Amid verdant city parks and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the zoo has been a part of the San Francisco community since it opened in 1929. Nearly 700 species of animals crawl, swim, and fly over its nearly 100 acres. Visitors traversing the space can explore elaborate exhibits and attempt to telepathically communicate with anything from birds and reptiles to invertebrates and mammals, including hippos, polar bears, and big cats.
One of the zoo’s most impressive habitats is the 3-acre African Savanna, which recreates a sprawling natural environment for free-roaming giraffes, zebras, kudu, and ostriches. Nearby, lemurs swing and leap through the treetops inside one of the country’s largest outdoor lemur habitats. In the Hearst Grizzly Gulch, panes of transparent plexiglas separate visitors from enormous Montana-born grizzly bear sisters Kachina and Kiona.
Oakland Zoo was first established in 1922, but it didn’t find its permanent home until 1939, when it was thoughtfully constructed amid the rolling hills of Knowland Park. Today, Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 animals, who thrive in biomes designed to mimic their natural environments.
The sprawling African savannah is one of the zoo’s largest habitats, housing hyenas, zebras, elephants, and giraffes. The centerpiece is a 1.5-acre lion exhibit called Simba Pori, which translates to lion county in Swahili. Inside, a pride of lions freely roam an enclosure outfitted with kopje rock structures, a pond, and a booth where the king can sign autographs.
Over in the rainforest habitat, chimpanzees and white-handed gibbons swing through the treetops. Emus and wallaroos—a cousin of the wallaby and the kangaroo—roam freely in the Wild Australia exhibit, accessible via one of the zoo’s rides, Outback Express Adventure Train. Other rides include the Endangered Species Carousel and Sky Ride, a chairlift that soars above the habitats and offers Bay Area skyline views.
Head to Little Explorers Mobile Petting Zoo in San Leandro for a relaxing and well-deserved day at the spa.
Little Explorers Mobile Petting Zoo allows for convenient forms of payment, accepting all major credit cards.
Feel nourished and refreshed this weekend with a visit to Little Explorers Mobile Petting Zoo.
Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo in Palo Alto offers animals like lions and tigers and bears. With so many animals to explore, you'll spend the entire day.
It's certainly time you stopped reading about this museum with its amazing restaurant and finally came in for a bite.
Tots are more than welcome to hang with their parents at this museum.
Parking is plentiful, so visitors can feel free to bring their vehicles.
An entire universe lives and breathes within the California Academy of Sciences, where a single living roof covers an aquarium, a planetarium, a rainforest, a natural history museum, and more. Yet if you glanced at the building in Golden Gate Park, it would be easy to miss the Academy entirely. That's because hills and fields cover 87 percent of its living rooftop, which gives a home to local wildlife, keeps the academy green, and upholds its mission to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth.
Size: 40,000 animals live in the aquarium, the Rainforest - a 90-foot glass dome open-air rainforest, and the museum houses both an 87-foot long blue whale skeleton and a massive T. rex—and that's still just a small part of the story
Crown Jewel: Green hills and fields cover 87% of the rooftop to create the Living Roof, a home for local wildlife
Eye Catcher: A giant window looks in on the Philippine Coral Reef's 212,000-gallon tank filled with live coral and over 2,000 colorful fish
Hands-On Exhibits: Touch sea urchins in a Discovery Tidepool and feel the Great San Francisco quake of 1906 inside the Shake House
Don't Miss: The Naturalist Center, where you can explore hundreds of specimens such as a foot-long mammoth tooth
Planetarium: Experience the cosmos like never before when the planetarium premieres "Habitat Earth" on January 16th, a show about biodiversity on Earth
Free with Daily Admission: Coral Reef Dive, Ssssnake Encounter, Quest for Curiosities, Swamp Discovery, and more