Before You Apply

Two sisters lean closer to view butterflies in a case

Who can apply for a field trip?
School Field Trips are available for formal California school groups of students in grades pre-K through 12, including preschool, attending with their classroom teacher when school is in session.

When can we visit?
Generally, field trips can be scheduled on all dates with the exception of school breaks and holidays.

How much does it cost?
San Francisco school groups are admitted free. Other California school groups pay heavily discounted rates subsidized by donations to the Academy for All fundraising effort; pricing may change seasonally. During the 2024-2025 school year, the field trip rate is $15.95 per person.

How many students can I bring?
You can include up to 10 classes of 36 students on each online application. If you need to bring a larger group, simply submit a second application for the extra classes, using the same preferred visit dates.

How many chaperones should I bring?
Please refer to the following chaperone limits depending on the age of your group. The Academy works hard to accommodate students with special needs; if your group has a valid reason for requiring additional adult chaperones, please indicate as much in your application.

  • Preschool
    Minimum: 1 adult per 8 students
    Maximum: 1 adult per 2 students
  • K-8
    Minimum: 1 adult per 8 students
    Maximum: 1 adult per 4 students
  • High School
    Minimum: 1 adult per 15 students
    Maximum: 1 adult per 4 students

Can I bring more chaperones if I’ve exceeded the limit?
To an extent. However, you must pay full admission price, rather than the subsidized school group price, per extra adult, and we may not be able to accommodate all extra adults. If you have an excessive amount of parent interest that is unwarranted for maintaining safety and encouraging learning on your trip, please inform some parents that you have filled the slots for chaperones. Please note that Memberships do not apply to school groups, as this could create an equity issue.

How can we see a Planetarium show?
School groups may attend a Planetarium show if they have made a reservation; these seats are requested when you apply for a field trip online, and your field trip confirmation email will indicate if we were able to seat your students in a show on your preferred visit date. Review the calendar of student shows to see when particular topics are playing, and what grades are most appropriate for each. Walk-up reservations for the planetarium are not permitted for those attending using school group pricing subsidized by other donors. If you don’t see a show on your confirmation, inform your chaperones to avoid the dome and instead take advantage of the rainforest, aquarium, and so much more!


In Preparation for Your Visit

Docent cart in the rainforest dome

I can’t find my confirmation email! What do I do?
To receive a copy of your confirmation email, contact, or (877) 227-3311.

What kind of payment do you accept? What if our visit numbers have changed?
Payment must be received prior to your visit day. The Academy accepts payment by credit card or mail-in check; we regret that we cannot accept purchase orders. Additional tickets may be purchased on the date of your visit, but will be done so at the daytime admission rates. Therefore, we encourage you to make any headcount changes prior to your visit by contacting or (877) 227-3311.

Do you issue refunds for cancelations?
Refunds will not be issued due to inclement weather or other day-of circumstances; however, a credit may be extended to a future trip within the same school year – let’s reschedule you in!

Do you issue refunds for students or chaperones that don’t end up attending?
Discounted admission is given in part because you are a large group; as such, refunds are not given for students or adults who do not attend on the day of your visit. However, you can adjust your headcount as your visit date approaches to more accurately reflect expected participation. Just give us a call at (877) 227-3311.

Some of my chaperones are Members. Can they get in free with some of the kids?
Alas, no. Member benefits for individuals or families do not apply to field trips, as these orders are taken on behalf of the school itself. Also, your class(es) enter the building via group entry, rather than the Membership door. You must reserve a space for any Members, and pay any associated admission fees.

What’s the parking situation?
Cars may park on surface streets for a limited time (up to 4 hours in Golden Gate Park) or in the underground city garage, but we cannot validate parking. The bus loading/unloading zone is located at the front of the Academy. Street parking for buses is often available on the west side of Golden Gate Park, such as on JFK Drive near Lindale Meadow.

Can I preview the exhibits for free to prepare?
Yes! Simply bring your field trip confirmation email and a photo ID to the Ticket Office, and we will print one complimentary admission ticket for each associated educator.

I have students who are blind or partially-sighted. Do you provide accommodations?
All exhibits have built-in detection points for the blind, and our public elevators are equipped with auditory signals. Wherever possible, exhibits have been made tactile for an enhanced experience. A person who accompanies and performs the task of interpreter for a visitor who is blind or visually impaired, is admitted free-of-charge. Readers and specially-trained tour guides are available with two weeks prior notice. For more information, or to book a service, please call the Contact Center at 877-227-3311.

I have students who are deaf or hearing impaired. Do you provide accommodations?
Transcripts are available for all regularly scheduled Planetarium shows and other multimedia in the Academy, and assistive listening transmitters are positioned in the Planetarium, Earthquake Mini-Dome Theater, and Earthquake Shake House exhibit. For more information please, stop by our Information desk. Any interpreter accompanying a deaf or hearing-impaired visitor (for the purpose of interpreting) is admitted free of charge. Additionally, sign-language interpreters for the Planetarium, the 3D theater in the Forum, and exhibit tours are available with two weeks prior notice. For more information, or to book a service, please call the Contact Center at 877-227-3311.


On the Morning of Your Visit

A high school interns shows students how to dissect owl pellets

What paperwork do I have to bring to the entrance?
Show a copy of your confirmation email on paper or your phone, or at the very least, know your order number. Proceed to the Ticket Office to check in your group; there, you will read and sign a copy of these School Group Guidelines. Expect entry to take up to 10 minutes.

Are there timed entry slots for groups? When is the earliest we can arrive? 
There are not specific timed entries for school groups, so whenever we get you checked in, we'll escort your group straight inside! The museum opens at 9:30am, so that is the earliest time you'll be able to enter the building.

What if we’re running late?
Remember that your entire group must be present before you can be admitted to the museum, so plan accordingly when carpooling. If you have reserved seats in the 10:30am Planetarium student show, you must arrive by 10:15am to give us time to process your order and escort you to the show. Note that we cannot place your class in later public shows if you missed your reservation.

When do we line up for the Planetarium show?
If you have pre-reserved seats in a show, please be in line at the Planetarium at least 15 minutes ahead of time. You may be attending this program along with other school groups, so your prompt arrival will be appreciated. Due to the nature of the planetarium show, no one can be admitted to the theater after the program has started, so plan ahead! Walk-up reservations for the planetarium are not permitted for those attending using school group pricing subsidized by other donors. If you don’t see a show on your confirmation, inform your chaperones to avoid the dome and instead take advantage of the rainforest, aquarium, and so much more!

What drop-in programs are available on the day of my visit?
Check the Daily Calendar for programs scheduled for the day of your visit.

Where can we eat lunch?
Eating is limited to outdoor areas. You will find tables and chairs in both the East Garden and West Garden, and no reservations are necessary. We regret that storage for lunches is unavailable; it is highly recommended that students carry their own lunches in their backpacks. Food is available for purchase in the Academy cafe; because the space is narrow, please enter the cafe in small, chaperone-led groups.

Do you have accommodations for children with sensory needs?
If you have children in your group with sensory needs, head over to Coat Check to borrow a bag containing noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, fidget toys, and other anxiety-reducing touchables. You can also plan to visit museum areas that are less likely to be loud, smelly, or visually complex, using the Sensory Guide on the interactive floor map.

Can we take photographs?
Yes. Please avoid using a flash and do not take pictures where signs forbid it. Tripods can be set up in certain locations, but not in a thoroughfare (e.g., the ramp up the Rainforest dome).

Can we exit and re-enter the museum on the day of our visit?
Yes! If you plan to re-enter the Academy later in the day, please ensure you receive a hand stamp before exiting.

What happens if we lost a student, or need first aid?
For lost children or first aid, please go to the Security Office located near the Swamp or flag down the closest employee on the public floor.

What other services do you provide that might be useful?
Wheel-chairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis for those in need; approach the information desk to rent one. For lost and found items, go to the Reception Desk at the rear of the building. A family restroom is located on the main floor near the Swamp.


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Book a Field Trip

For summer visits, email, instead. The school field trip application for the 2024-2025 academic year will likely be posted in August. Have a wonderful summer break!

Contact us
We're happy to help! Our Contact Center is open daily from 8 a.m. (9 a.m. weekends) to 5 p.m. Send us a note or reach out via email or phone.
(877) 227-3311