Photo Credits: Camille Ledesma @camilleledesma on Instagram
The best museums to visit in San Francisco
San Francisco isn’t just home to some of the most iconic sights in the world – it is also home to world-class museums that’ll make you go ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ from delight! Displaying fascinating artworks and installations from all over the world, it’s safe to say that you’ll be learning a thing or two about a handful of cultures just within the confines of the Bay Area.
But before you go museum hopping, pick up a Go San Francisco Card Explorer Pass to travel at ease. With this handy pass, you can pay a visit to various museums and attractions in San Francisco without the hassle of waiting in line!
Read along and check out these museums in and around San Francisco:
1. de Young Museum
Discover more about America’s history at the de Young Museum! Here, guests can get a glimpse of the country’s vibrant culture and traditions showcased through a collection of American Art – spanning from the 17th to the 21st century. Some of the most notable pieces seen here include the “Cover Pot” for the Teotihuacan Show, and as well as the “Rainy Season in the Tropics” by Frederic Edwin Church (1866).
Operating hours: Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m.
Address: Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco CA 94118
2. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Known as one of the largest museums in the United States, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one spectacle you shouldn’t miss. Exhibiting modern and contemporary art from influential artists around the world, this museum will surely captivate any guest who walks into its doors.
Apart from the museum’s must-see pieces like Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance, Dan Flavin’s Untitled (in honor of Leo at the 30th anniversary of his gallery), and the ever iconic Big Crinkly installation by Alexander Calder, guests also have access to seasonal exhibits such as the Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again presentation which is on display from 19 May 2019 to 2 September 2019.
Operating hours: Open Friday through Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. | Thursdays and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m
Address: 151 Third Street, San Francisco CA 94103
3. Museum of the African Diaspora
Explore both American and African culture at the Museum of the African Diaspora! This museum focuses and explores the history and cultures of the African Diaspora. The museum features art exhibits that follow their social, cultural and artistic trail through music, dance, visual art, folklore and other forms of art.
Operating hours: Open Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m.-6:00p.m. | Sundays, 12:00 n.n.-5:00 p.m.
Address: Ground floor of the St. Regis, 685 Mission St (at 3rd), San Francisco, CA 94105
Get ready to explore the world through the Exploratorium! Families will love over 650 interactive exhibits on anatomy, physics, ecosystems, and so much more. Exploratorium’s hands-on experiences will surely make visitors keep wanting to discover more about the world.
Operating hours: Open Daily for all ages, 10:00 a.m.-5:00p.m. | Thursdays for Ages 18+, 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Address: Pier 15, Embarcadero at Green St., San Francisco, CA 94111
5. Aquarium of the Bay
Learn more about San Francisco’s underwater life at the Aquarium of the Bay! The museum features over 20,000 different marine animals that are indigenous to the San Francisco Bay Area and its neighbouring rivers and watersheds. As it is located at Pier 39, we highly recommend stopping by the Aquarium of the Bay for some family time. With the aquarium’s interactive elements, the kids are sure to enjoy this attractions!
Operating hours: Open Daily, 10:00 a.m.-6:00p.m.
Address: PIER 39 Embarcadero & Beach St., San Francisco, CA 94133
6. Asian Art Museum
With over 18,000 collections under its roof, we can assure you an art-filled afternoon at the Asian Art Museum. Featuring pieces from all over Asia – Philippines, Turkey, India, and so much more, the Asian Art Museum is a great location to learn more about various cultures and traditions. But artworks aside, we also have to give praise to the buildings’ amazing architectural structure – perfect for your Instagram backdrops!
Operating hours: OpenTuesdays through Sundays, 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. | Thursdays, 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Address: 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102
7. California Academy of Sciences
While the other museums in the city are showcasing stunning artworks from all corners of the earth, the California Academy of Sciences exhibits a special four-story rainforest, planetarium and an aquarium within its walls in an effort to pull focus on environmental sustainability. So while you’re exploring and learning more about our earth and beyond, the experience is pretty IG-worthy, too!
Operating hours: Open Mondays through Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. | Sundays, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. | Thursdays (for Ages 21+), 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Address: Golden Gate Park, 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 9411
8. Legion of Honor
What if we told you that you can experience a bit of Europe within the corners of San Francisco? At the Legion of Honor, you can do just that! The museum’s grand collection of European art and sculptures are sure to take you to Europe and back. Here, guests can get a glimpse of some of the most iconic statues and sculptures in the world – including The Thinker by Auguste Rodin and Joan of Arc on horseback.
Operating hours: Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 9:30 a.m.- 5:15 p.m.
Address: 100 34th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121
9. The Walt Disney Family Museum
Disney fans, unite! Guests who walk into the Walt Disney Family Museum get the opportunity to walk through the life and legacy of the founder of all things Disney, Walt Disney. Here, you can take a look into early animations made that inspired some of your favorite Disney films today. The museum also features a Fantasia-themed theatre that’s sure to make you feel like there’s magic in the air.
Operating hours: Open Daily, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. with last entry at 4:45 p.m. (except Tuesdays, January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25)
Address: 104 Montgomery Street in the Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129
10. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
For art connoisseurs, a trip to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts would definitely be worth your time! Home to a wide-range of art collections – from visual art, performances, film and video, the multi-disciplinary museum celebrates all forms of art that’s sure to be a big hit for artists and art-lovers everywhere!
Operating hours: Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Address: 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
11. MUSÉE MÉCANIQUE
The Musée Mécanique is definitely more of an arcade than a museum in our book, however we won’t hesitate to include it on this list! Obviously peculiar, the one-of-a-kind museum features over 300 20th-century parlor arcade games and artifacts for every visitors’ enjoyment. Several of the games in this still actually work and you can’t beat the price! Drop in for absolutely free and try out the arm wrestling game as seen on Princess Diaries!
Operating hours: Open Daily, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Address: Pier 45 at the end of Taylor Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133
12. Children’s Creativity Museum
For both the kids and the kids-at-heart, the Children’s Creativity Museum is a fun little afternoon attraction you can enjoy with the fam! Immerse yourself in a tech-heavy multimedia experience through stop-motion animation, mystery box challenges and so much more!
Operating hours: Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Address: 221 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103
13. Museum of Ice Cream
Satisfy those sweet tooth cravings at the Museum of Ice Cream – a one stop shop for an exciting multi-sensory experience. This interactive museum puts the spotlight on Ice Cream and creates a feast for both the eyes and the stomach with 10 sugar-filled rooms. Be sure to bring a camera along with you throughout the experience and strike a pose with an ice cream in hand!
Operating hours: Open Mondays and Wednesdays through Fridays, 12:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. | Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.-8:45 p.m. | Sundays, 9:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Address: 1 Grant Ave.San Francisco, CA. 94108
14. Cable Car Museum
Get to know more about the inner workings of these iconic San Francisco cable cars at the Cable Car Museum. The Cable Car Museum provides an in-depth look into the history of these cable cars, as well as see the old cars used back in the day. The museum also features an interactive walkway where you can see the moving cable of the cable car system.
What’s San Francisco without cable cars? Discover more about the inner workings of these iconic San Francisco sight at the Cable Car Museum. The exhibit provides an in-depth look into the history and the cable cars influence on San Francisco’s culture and design. Additionally, it also features an interactive walkway where you can actually see the moving cable of the cable car system!
Operating hours: Open Daily except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (November through March), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (April through October)
Address: 1201 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
15. Cartoon Art Museum
If you’re a certified comic book fan, then the Cartoon Art Museum is sure to get you all excited. Here, fans can learn more about the beginnings of various cartoon characters and plots and how it’s more than just simple drawings on paper. In the Cartoon Art Museum, you’ll also get a chance to make your own comic strip and other animations!
If you’re a certified comic book fan, then the Cartoon Art Museum is sure to get you all excited! Here, guests can get a glimpse of the original, initial sketches of some of their favorite cartoon characters, and see how much work was done to bring these stories to life.
Comic book fans are in for a treat! As part of the experience, guests can come in and enjoy the museum’s fun interactive element – where you can create your own comic strip and other animations!
Operating hours: Open Daily (except Wednesdays), 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Address: 781 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA 94109