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Must-Visit Museums in San Francisco

Must-Visit Museums in San Francisco

A world-class city, San Francisco has no shortage of museums, particularly art, science, and family-friendly museums. Here are your cultural options, whether you’re a lover of fine art and contemporary art or you want to satisfy your inner child.


de Young Museum

One half of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), the de Young is known as much for its views outside—the contemporary copper building in Golden Gate Park boasts a lookout tower for aerial views—as for what’s within. The art collection features more than 27,000 pieces, including decorative art, African art, photography, and textiles. Most noteworthy are American paintings by Mary Cassatt, Diego Rivera, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning.

 

Legion of Honor

The other half of FAMSF, the Legion of Honor is dedicated to European paintings, decorative arts, and ancient art from the Mediterranean. Highlights include Georges Seurat’s “Eiffel Tower” and one of Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.” Perched on a hill in Lincoln Park in northwest San Francisco, the French Neoclassical-style building offers sneaky views of the Pacific Ocean with a cast of Rodin’s “The Thinker” out front.

 

California Academy of Sciences

One of San Francisco’s most popular museums, Cal Academy sits in Golden Gate Park, across the Music Concourse from the de Young, making it easy to visit both in one day. Dedicated to educating visitors about life on earth, the institution is known for its Living Roof, planetarium, aquarium, natural history museum, and four-story rainforest. Perhaps most famous is the resident albino alligator, Claude. If you’re in town on a Thursday night, head to the museum for NightLife, the academy’s weekly after-hours, adults-only event with music and cocktails.

 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

The SFMOMA is a museum for the modern age, with Instagram-friendly backdrops and 45,000 square feet (4,180 square meters) of public spaces where you can see art for free, plus ticketed access to collections of photography, paintings, architectural works, media arts, and more. Highlights include pieces by Andy Warhol and Richard Diebenkorn.

 

Walt Disney Family Museum

Learn about Walt Disney—the man—at the Walt Disney Family Museum, located in the Presidio. Depicting Disney’s story through his life, work, and entertainment phenomenon, the museum is geared toward adults who grew up watching Disney rather than current children. The artifacts and memorabilia include drawings of beloved characters, photographs, a model of Disneyland, and narration in Walt’s voice.

 

Exploratorium

Perhaps the most fun museum in San Francisco, the Exploratorium, located on the Embarcadero at Pier 15, is an interactive, hands-on adventure that delights anyone who loves to learn. Dedicated to science, art, and human perception, the museum features exhibits, activities, and experiments about light, sound, creativity, human behavior, weather, and the planet.

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6 Tours and Activities | All San Francisco Tours

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California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket

California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket

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389
Enjoy easy access to the California Academy of Sciences with this pre-paid ticket. Walk right in to enjoy the museum's 4-story rain forest, planetarium, and aquarium. Avoid wasting your precious vacation waiting in the long lines to purchase tickets for this exhibit-packed museum. Your admission includes all shows and exhibits, and is a perfect activity for families.
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  • 3 to 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$36.95
From
$36.95
Taking safety measures

California Academy of Sciences NightLife Admission Ticket

California Academy of Sciences NightLife Admission Ticket

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48
Pair science with San Francisco nightlife and you have NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences. This is the perfect, child-free way to explore the museum after hours. Make your way inside and enjoy a lively venue of music, provocative science, and exhibits.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$23.00
From
$23.00
Taking safety measures

de Young Museum General Admission Ticket

de Young Museum General Admission Ticket

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26
Enjoy skip-the-line general admission to San Francisco’s de Young Museum, home to one of the city’s most prominent art collections. Seated in Golden Gate Park, you have the chance to explore the rare artifacts of the permanent exhibitions, as well as sculptures and paintings. Upgrade your ticket to include entrance to the Special Exhibitions or the insightful commentary of an audio guide. Be sure to stop at the Hamon Observation Tower before heading out, and enjoy spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. With this ticket, you can also enter the Legion of Honor Museum at no extra cost.
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  • 2 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$15.00
From
$15.00
Taking safety measures

Go San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions and Tours

Go San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions and Tours

star-3.5
32
Tour San Francisco with the Go San Francisco Pass on your mobile device. See all the sites or just a few; it's your choice using this customizable touring option. Enjoy free admission at more than 30 popular San Francisco attractions as well as discounts on dining and shopping. Choose from 1-,2-, 3- or 5-day options to help you save as much money as possible on your vacation. Please note: Enjoy the extra flexibility in case your travel plans need to change: All passes are valid for two year from purchase date and only become activated with your first attraction visit. After activation your pass will be valid for 30 days and/or the remaining number of attraction choices purchased.
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  • 1 to 5 days
From
$78.00
From
$78.00

California Academy of Sciences Behind-the-Scenes VIP Tour

California Academy of Sciences Behind-the-Scenes VIP Tour

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46
Enhance your visit to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco on this special behind-the-scenes tour to learn about the facility's animal life or its research focus. Plus, your tour grants you general admission, so you can also explore the attraction’s 4-story rain forest and planetarium at your own pace. Express entry to the Rain Forest exhibit and a reserved ticket to a show at Morrison Planetarium are also included.
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  • 45 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$61.90
From
$61.90
Taking safety measures

Legion of Honor Museum General Admission Ticket

Legion of Honor Museum General Admission Ticket

star-4.5
17
Explore one of San Francisco’s most prominent art collections with admission to the Legion of Honor Museum. Set in the headlands above the Golden Gate Bridge, the building’s stunning neoclassical exterior is modeled after the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris. Inside, discover an impressive collection of ancient Mediterranean art, European paintings and sculptures, and the most extensive assemblage of works on paper in the American West. Upgrade your ticket to include entrance to the Special Exhibits or the insightful commentary of an audio guide. Your ticket also allows you to enter the de Young Museum at no extra cost.
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  • 2 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$15.00
From
$15.00