We don’t have to tell you that living within SF’s city limits has it’s perks. But you may not know that now until March 22, one of them is free admission to The California Academy of Sciences. SF residents can walk “through” the ocean, stroll around the butterfly-filled rainforest, and oggle at a gorilla without dropping a dime during  “Neighborhood Free Weekends.” Here’s how to make the most of your gratis visit.

Cal Academy Bird Nest

Ready, Set, Action! Ride a Rocking Snail, Pet A Sea Urchin, Experience An Earthquake
The Early Explorers Cove is a play zone for folks under five. Tiny tikes who are still in the sedentary stage can hang out on a rocking snail while the older, mobile kids get their sea legs on the H.M.S. Academy or run around in the “jungle”.

Shake it up with kids over three at the popular Earthquake exhibit. Strollers aren’t allowed in the Earthquake house, but you’ll find parking just outside.

 The Discovery Tidepool is fun for all ages. We heard squeals of delight from adults and toddlers alike who ventured to plunge their hands in the tank to pet an invertebrate.

Cal Academy Early Explorers

Lunch and a Show
When you’ve had your fill of interactive activities and running around, head to The Terrace for a bite and a drink. Kids can refuel with an organic PB&J while while parents relax with a glass of wine or beer. (The second glass is free during Happy Hour from 2-4 p.m.). Proceed to the Morrison Planetarium to sit back and enjoy a show featuring more stars than any of the Hollywood movies.

Cal Academy Aquarium

Organizing Your Trip
Paying for standard entry for a family of four is more than $100, so taking advantage of your neighborhood’s free weekend is well worth it! (The standard entry cost is $35 for adults, $30 for teens aged 17 and under, and $25 for kids aged 4-11.) Adults can bring up to six kids each during the free weekends. Be sure to visit during the days allocated to your zip code.

Neighborhoods: Bernal Heights, Castro, Cole Valley, Glen Park, Haight, Lake Merced, Mission, Noe Valley, St. Francis Wood
Zip codes: 94110, 94114, 94117, 94127, 94131, 94132
Spring 2015 Free Days: Feb. 27, 28, Mar. 1

Neighborhoods: Parkside, Sunset
Zip codes: 94116, 94122
Spring 2015 Free Days: Mar. 6, 7, 8

Neighborhoods: Chinatown, Marina, Nob Hill, North Beach, Presidio, Richmond, Russian Hill, Seacliff, Telegraph Hill, Western Addition
Zip codes: 94108, 94109, 94115, 94118, 94121, 94123, 94126, 94129, 94133
Spring 2015 Free Days: Mar. 13, 14, 15

Neighborhoods: Bayview-Hunters Point, Downtown, Hayes Valley, Ingelside-Excelsior, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, SoMa, Tenderloin, Treasure Island, Visitacion Valley
Zip codes: 94102, 94103, 94104, 94105, 94107, 94111, 94112, 94124, 94130, 94134, 94158
Spring 2015 Free Days: Mar. 20, 21, 22

For more info, including i.d requirements and other fine print, visit this page before your visit.
Golden Gate Park
55 Music Concourse Dr.
San Francisco, Ca
415-379-8000
Online: calacademy.org
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun.11 a.m.–5 p.m.

—Talia Page

Are you planning on attending your neighborhood free weekend?