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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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7 Tours and Activities

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Skip-the-Line California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket

Skip-the-Line California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket

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Enjoy easy access to the California Academy of Sciences with this pre-paid skip-the-line 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. ***IMPORTANT PLEASE NOTE*** Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of a scheduled museum visit is required for all Academy guests ages 12+, along with photo ID for guests ages 18+. Masks are required indoors for all guests ages 2+.
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  • 3 to 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$36.95
From
$36.95

The Walt Disney Family Museum Admission Ticket in San Francisco

The Walt Disney Family Museum Admission Ticket in San Francisco

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Visit San Francisco’s historic Presidio District and learn about the man behind the Disney classics at The Walt Disney Family Museum. Admire Walt’s early cartoons and films, and hear about his life through videos and narration from the animator himself. Don’t forget to check out views of the Bay from the museum’s glass wall before you go, and upgrade your ticket to include access to the special exhibitions.
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  • 2 to 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$25.00
From
$25.00

de Young Museum General Admission Ticket

de Young Museum General Admission Ticket

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Enjoy 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 collections, as well as sculptures and paintings. Upgrade your ticket to include entrance to the Special Exhibits. Be sure to stop at the Hamon Observation Tower before heading out, and enjoy spectacular views of the famed Twin Peaks 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
From
$15.00
From
$15.00

Exploratorium General Admission Ticket

Exploratorium General Admission Ticket

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Engage your senses and delve into a world of discovery at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. With a fantastic location on Pier 15 overlooking San Francisco Bay, the museum offers hundreds of interactive exhibits for the whole family. Explore the amazing realms of physics, anatomy, human perception, and Earth’s ecosystems through inquiry-based displays that delight and inform visitors of all ages.
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  • 2 to 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$29.95
From
$29.95

Exploratorium Admission Ticket - After Dark Thursday Evenings (ages 18+)

Exploratorium Admission Ticket - After Dark Thursday Evenings (ages 18+)

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Every Thursday evening, one of San Francisco's premier museums opens up its doors for an After Dark gathering of the coolest kind. The Exploratorium transforms into an adults-only intellectual playground, welcoming everyone 18 and older to dance, mingle, and explore while sipping on cocktails (own expense) and participating in the museum's ongoing advances in art, science, and technology while enjoying spectacular views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay.
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  • 2 to 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$19.95
From
$19.95

Go City: San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

Go City: San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

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Tour San Francisco with Go City and enjoy admission at more than 25 popular San Francisco attractions and activities - all on one digital pass. Choose an All-Inclusive Pass valid for 1-,2-, 3- or 5-days and visit as many attractions as you like, all while saving 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 years from purchase date and only become activated with your first attraction visit. After activation your pass will be valid for the remaining number of days purchased.
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  • 1 to 5 days
From
$63.00
From
$63.00

Legion of Honor Museum General Admission Ticket

Legion of Honor Museum General Admission Ticket

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36
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. 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