Museums in San Francisco – and most are free!

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It’s Saturday and you’re antsy to go out and do something. What to do, what to do? How about visit one of the many San Francisco museums that may not always be top of mind?
You don’t have to stick to the traditional art museums, as there are so many others in the bay area. Most are free. But, even if there’s a ticket price, it’s typically quite affordable.
We think about dinner and a movie or streaming a video, but museums are all around us, and they seem to take a backseat to other activities. Think outside of the box this week. Just pick one, and go for it! You could visit a new one each week, and keep things fresh all year.


Museums in San Francisco - and most are free!

Free Museums in San Francisco

This post lists San Francisco museums that are either always free, have free, or name-your-own-price days, as well as those included for free on tourist discount passes. You might also be interested in our list of 51 free things to do in San Francisco.



Cable Car Museum

Learn all about San Francisco’s famous Cable Cars. The museum is housed in the historic Washington/Mason cable car barn and powerhouse. The museum has three antique cable cars from the 1870s on display.

San Francisco Maritime Park

This museum, located on Hyde Street Pier, right between Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf, is a fun place to visit for anybody interested in old sailing ships.

The Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden is also located in Golden Gate Park, is an incredibly well-kept garden with trimmed lawns, sculpted trees, plants and flowers shaped into a dragon, and more.

Cartoon Art Museum

Check out the exhibits of famous cartoon characters and comic strips throughout history.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

This museum has beautiful artwork from modern times. The museum is always free for kids under the age of 18.

Museums of 3D illusions in San Francisco

Museum of 3D Illusions in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The Museum of 3D Illusions is now open in San Francisco — It’s a chance to immerse yourself in beautiful wall-paintings and pictures.
The illusions are created by famous painters from around the world.


san francisco museum, free things to do in the bay area

San Francisco’s Must-See Museums

World-class aquariums, interactive science exhibits and some of the country’s most diverse art collections make San Francisco’s museums a must for any visitor. But it’s not just the collections that are magnificent; there’s also critically acclaimed architecture and some of the most breathtaking vistas in the city that make San Francisco’s museums worth the visit. Be sure to see some of the following extraordinary museums.

Legion of Honor

Built to commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I, the Legion of Honor is a beautiful neoclassic building overlooking Lincoln Park and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The museum’s collection features more than 4,000 years of ancient and European art and also houses the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, one of the largest collections of works on paper in the country. Don’t miss a performance on the Skinner pipe organ and enjoy the impressive sound of 4,500 pipes playing everything from Bach and Gershwin to great film scores. Public concerts are presented each weekend on Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, a transformed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art re-opened on May 14, 2016. The Snohetta-designed expansion includes 170,000 square feet of new and renovated galleries, enabling SFMOMA to display more of its 33,000 modern and contemporary artworks and an entire floor dedicated solely to photography.
Free access to 45,000 square feet of ground floor galleries and visitors 18 and younger make SFMOMA more welcoming and connected to the city than ever before. Available with San Francisco CityPASS.

California Academy of Sciences

Home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and world-class research and educational programs, the California Academy of Sciences is one of San Francisco’s must-see destinations. From the splashing penguins in the African Hall to the wildflowers on the roof, the building is bursting with life.
A four-story rainforest and awe-inspiring coral reef ecosystem delights visitors of all ages, while immersive planetarium shows transports you through space and time for a new perspective on our planet. The Academy is also topped by a 2.5-acre living-roof, which is a crucial part of its eco-friendly design and operations in Golden Gate Park. Available with San Francisco CityPASS.

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