Museums in San Francisco

The Definitive List (2019)

San Francisco museums are among the best in the world, and include Wells Fargo History Museum, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, and dozens more institutions.

Below, we've researched and compiled a list of museums in San Francisco, plus categories like:

And everything in-between. How many museums are there in San Francisco? As of 2019, our list includes 55 awesome museums.

San Franciscomuseum

Museum Categories

All Museums in San Francisco

Wells Fargo History Museum

History Museum

The Wells Fargo History Museum is located in the heart of San Francisco. It features exhibits on nearly two centuries of the company's history from the early days of the Gold Rush to Silicon Valley today. The museum's collection includes an original stagecoach, photographs, gold nuggets and mining artifacts, telegraphs and historic bank artifacts.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Wells Fargo History Museum.

  • Gold Rush-era Doors
Wells Fargo History Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 420 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94104

Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts

Art Museum

Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is a nonprofit exhibition venue and research institute dedicated to contemporary art and ideas. It is part of the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. They host rotating temporary exhibitions, public events, and do in-depth research into the future of contemporary art.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.

  • "The Voice of Multiplicity" Talk by Trinh T. Minh-ha
  • Cinthia Marcelle: A morta
  • Abbas Akhavan: cast for a folly
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 360 Kansas St, San Francisco, CA 94103

USS Pampanito (SS-383)

Historic Site

USS Pampanito, a Balao-class submarine, was a United States Navy ship, which completed six war patrols from 1944 to 1945 and served as a Naval Reserve Training ship from 1960 to 1971. The ship is now a National Historic Landmark and museum with a permanent home at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at USS Pampanito (SS-383).

  • After Torpedo Room
  • Maneuvering Room
  • Crew's Mess and Galley
USS Pampanito (SS-383)
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $20 per person
  • 📍 Pier 45, San Francisco, CA 94133

SS Jeremiah O'Brien

Historic Site

The SS Jeremiah O'Brien Liberty ship is moored at Pier 45 near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf area. It is one of two remaining fully functional Liberty ships of the 2,710 built and launched during World War II and it is the only one that is unaltered.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at SS Jeremiah O'Brien.

  • The Steam Engine (used in the filming of the Academy Award winning movie Titanic)
  • Visit the Ship’s Museum
  • Panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay,
SS Jeremiah O'Brien
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $20 per person
  • 📍 Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133

Society of California Pioneers

Specialty Museum

Society of California Pioneers is located in the Presidio of San Francisco (next to The Walt Disney Family Museum). The museum hosts a rotating schedule of exhibitions focused on California art, history, and culture in Pioneer Hall at The Presidio. The collection of archives document the founding and early history of California, including The Gold Rush, The Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and more. The collection includes manuscripts and letters, paintings, prints and drawings, photographs, books, maps, newspapers and journals, the business ledgers of mining and transportation companies, as well as historic artifacts and decorative objects.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Society of California Pioneers.

  • gold cane head fashioned from “locally mined” gold and gold-bearing quartz
  • Portrait of Emperor Norton by Adeline Ballou
  • Muybridge’s 360 degree panorama of San Francisco
Society of California Pioneers
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $5 per person
  • 📍 101 Montgomery St Suite 150, San Francisco, CA 94129

SFO Museum Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum and Library

Art Museum

The SFO Museum was created in 1980. It was the first of its kind -- a museum in an international airport that is. The museum has grown from one small exhibition to an extensive museum in its own right offering cultural and educational programs in locations throughout the Airport's terminals.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at SFO Museum Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum and Library.

  • Masterworks by Edward Chavez: Model Aircraft Collection
  • Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope
  • California Studio Craft
SFO Museum Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum and Library
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 San Francisco International Airport

Sea Lion Center

Specialty Museum

The Sea Lion Center is adjacent to PIER 39 overlooking K-Dock in the marina. The Center researches and educates the public on the colony of wild California sea lions that now permanently live in this unusual urban setting (the docks off Pier 39). The Center provides free educational programming on the natural history of California sea lions and the environmental threats they currently face. The center is open daily from 10am to 5pm and offers educational programming at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 4:30pm.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Sea Lion Center.

  • Sea lions
  • Sea lion pelt
  • Sea lion skeleton
Sea Lion Center
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 203, Pier 39, San Francisco, CA 94133

San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center

Cultural Center

The San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center (SFWMPAC) is comprised of the War Memorial Opera House, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, Herbst Theatre, The Green Room, The Wilsey Center, and Harold L. Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall. It is also home to the San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera. Tours are scheduled every Monday, except holidays, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the hour. All tours leave from the Grove Street entrance of Davies Symphony Hall and cost $7.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center.

  • War Memorial Opera House building
  • Davies Symphony Hall building
  • Veterans Building
San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $7 per person
  • 📍 301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102

San Francisco Railway Museum

Specialty Museum

The San Francisco Railway Museum, located near the Ferry Building at the south end of ferry plaza, explores the positive impacts streetcars and cable cars made on the quality of urban life in San Francisco. The museum features a full-sized exact replica of the motorman’s platform of a 1911 San Francisco streetcar, unique historic artifacts, illustrative and informative displays, rarely seen archival photography, and audio-visual exhibits that use 21st century technology to bring rail transit in the 19th and 20th centuries to life.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at San Francisco Railway Museum.

  • Full-sized exact replica of the motorman’s platform of a 1911 San Francisco streetcar
  • Unique historic artifacts
  • Archival photography
San Francisco Railway Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 77 Steuart St, San Francisco, CA 94105

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Specialty Museum

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood. The Park includes a magnificent fleet of historic ships, a Visitor Center, Maritime Museum, Maritime Research Center, and Aquatic Park Historic District.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

  • The Historic Ships
  • The Maritime Museum
  • The Maritime Museum
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 2905 Hyde Street San Francisco, CA 94109

San Francisco Fire Department Museum

Specialty Museum

San Francisco Fire Department Museum is a small, free museum located in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood. Although small the museum's collection is extensive. It includes antique fire engines, helmets, extinguishers, and many other SFFD memorabilia. One of the largest displays is all about the 1906 Earthquake and Fire that rocked San Francisco.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at San Francisco Fire Department Museum.

  • The First Fire Engine Built In California
  • 1906 Earthquake and Fire memorabilia
  • Historic Bell
San Francisco Fire Department Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 655 Presidio Ave, San Francisco, CA 94115

Art Museum

The Arts Commission founded its exhibitions program in 1970. Today it has three locations in the San Francisco area the SFAC Main Gallery, Café Valor, and SFAC Galleries - Art at City Hall. The Galleries focus on making contemporary art accessible to broad audiences. They host various curated exhibitions throughout the year.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery.

  • The Continuous Thread
  • Wounds Many: Portraits of the Northern Ute
  • Brian Belott’s RHODASCOPE: Scribbles, Smears, and the Universal Language of Children According to Rhoda Kellogg
San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 401 Van Ness Ave Suite 126, San Francisco, CA 94102

Randall Museum

Natural History Museum

The Randall Museum is a natural history museum, science museum and arts center in one. The museum promotes hands-on learning through exhibits and classes in science, nature and art to all ages. They also have a theater, a wood shop, and art and ceramics studios on site. The museum is totally free to the public and hosts events, movies, plays, lectures, exhibits, and classes for ages three and up.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Randall Museum.

  • Animal Exhibit: California’s diverse habitats
  • Foundations: Earthquakes
  • Ocean: “How will you help the Ocean”
Randall Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114

The Presidio

Specialty Museum

The Presidio of San Francisco is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 1994 the Presidio became a national park site. The beautiful park has many wooded areas, hills, and scenic vistas overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. If you want to learn more about the park's layered history check out the Presidio Visitor Center. It hosts changing exhibits about the Presidio, information about sights and activities in the park, and a bookstore.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at The Presidio .

  • Crissy Fields
  • Inspiration Point Overlook
  • Main Parade Ground
The Presidio
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 Presidio Visitor Center 210 Lincoln Boulevard on the Presidio's Main Post San Francisco, CA 94129​

Pacific Heritage Museum

Private Museum

Located across from the famous Transamerica Building, the Pacific Heritage Museum celebrates the heritage and achievements of the people living along the Pacific Rim. The first two floors of the museum focus on the history of the building (historic US Subtreasury Building) and includes a replication of a bank vault and a collection of rare, antique silver coins. The museum has a series of rotating exhibits.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Pacific Heritage Museum.

  • Replica of a bank vault
  • Antique silver coins
Pacific Heritage Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 608 Commercial St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Octagon House

Historic Site

San Francisco's Octagon House was built in 1861. Today it is a historical landmark, an architectural treasure, and a Colonial and Federal Periods Decorative Arts Museum. The collections on display at Octagon House Museum represent decorative arts of the American Colonial and Federal periods. There are examples of American furniture, portraits, samplers, and pewter as well as English and Chinese ceramics. The museum and garden are open to the public from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the second Sunday and second and fourth Thursday of each month except January.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Octagon House.

  • American Decorative Arts
  • Colonial Style Garden
  • Allyne Park
Octagon House
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 2645 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94123

Museum of Russian Culture

History Museum

The Museum of Russian Culture was established in 1948 at the Russian Center in San Francisco to promote Russian culture and collect materials about its influence on American culture. Their archival library contains thousands of books published in pre-revolutionary Russia and by Russian emigrants, mostly in the Russian language. Some are very limited editions. Their periodicals department has a collection of Russian newspapers and magazines published all over the world by Russian emigrants.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Museum of Russian Culture.

  • Exhibition Hall
  • Archival Library
  • Periodicals Department
Museum of Russian Culture
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 2450 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Museum of Performance & Design

Private Museum

Founded in 1947, the Museum of Performance & Design has been focused on documenting and preserving the San Francisco Bay Area’s rich and diverse performing arts heritage from the Gold Rush to the present. The collection includes personal papers of prominent artists, original costumes and design renderings, audio-visual recordings of live performances, original artwork, other artifacts, and ephemera.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Museum of Performance & Design.

  • Opera and Ballet Costume Design
Museum of Performance & Design
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 2200 Jerrold Ave, Ste. T, San Francisco, CA 94124

Museum of Craft and Design

Art Museum

The Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) was founded in 2004. It is the only museum in San Francisco devoted solely to craft and design. As they are a non-collecting institution, the museum actively collaborates with artists, designers, other museums and universities, as well as design venues and practitioners to create inspirational experiences in the world of craft and design for visitors of all ages.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Museum of Craft and Design.

  • Dead Nuts: A search for the ultimate machined object
  • Bauhaus Photo
Museum of Craft and Design
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $8 per person
  • 📍 2569 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Museo Italo Americano

History Museum

The Museo Italo Americano was founded in 1978. Theri missions is "to research, collect, and display works by Italian and Italian-American artists, and to promote educational programs for the appreciation of Italian art and culture". Although the museum always holds temporary exhibits, it also maintains a permanent collection, including works by Beniamino Bufano, Francesco Clemente, Sandro Chia, Mimmo Paladino, and more. The museum also offers a number of Italian language classes.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Museo Italo Americano.

  • Falassi Collection of Saints and Allegorical Figures
  • Permanent Collection
  • Historical Archive
Museo Italo Americano
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123

Mission Dolores

Historic Site

The Misión San Francisco de Asís was founded on October 9, 1776. It is the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel of 21 established under Father Serra. The Mission Cemetery is the only cemetery that remains within the city limits. It is the final resting place of some 5,000 Ohlone, Miwok, and other First Californians who built Mission Dolores and were its earliest members and founders. Docent tours are available for groups of 10 or more.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Mission Dolores .

  • Father Junipero Serra by Arthur Putnam
  • Cemetery and Gardens
Mission Dolores
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $7 per person
  • 📍 3321 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts

Cultural Center

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) is a multicultural, multidisciplinary arts organization located in San Francisco's Mission District. MCCLA was established in 1977 by artists and community activists to promote, preserve and develop the Latino cultural arts that reflect the living tradition and experiences of the Chicano, Central and South American, and Caribbean people.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

  • Off The Wall: Print Sale
  • Juan Serrano
  • Diego Marcial Art
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 2868 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

Historic Site

The Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center is located along Crissy Field in the Presidio of San Francisco. The building (Building 640) was the original site of the language school for the Military Intelligence Service during World War II. The facility will showcase permanent and rotating exhibitions featuring mockup barracks and classrooms as well as display over 10,000 artifacts, documents, and objects from their Japanese American Military collection.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center.

  • Bound By Honor: Japanese American Soldiers in WWII Comics
  • Secrets Revealed
  • Forgiveness: A Bridge Between Nations
Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $10 per person
  • 📍 640 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94129

The Mexican Museum

History Museum

The Mexican Museum provides public access to art and ideas that reflect the Mexican, Mexican-American, and Latin American experience through educational programs and exhibitions. The Museum is preparing for a move to its new permanent home in Yerba Buena Gardens.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at The Mexican Museum.

  • Family, Homeland, Revolution: Stories of the Chicano Movement
  • Mexico in San Francisco: Works on Paper from Diego Rivera to Alejandro Santiago
  • Fernando Reyes: An Artist's Evolution 1991-2017
The Mexican Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 649 Mission St Suite 419, San Francisco, CA 94105

The Lab

Private Museum

The Lab, located on the edge of San Francisco's Mission District, is a not-for-profit arts organization and performance space. It was founded in 1984. They give funding, time, and space to traditionally underrepresented artists and art forms. The Lab is, above all, a catalyst for artistic experimentation. Check their calendar for upcoming exhibitions.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at The Lab .

  • Terry Fox: Resonance
  • Heavy Breathing: Judith Rodenbeck
  • Éliane Radigue: Trilogie de la Mort
The Lab
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 2948 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

International Art Museum of America

Art Museum

The International Art Museum of America is located in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood near downtown San Francisco. It is a nonprofit art museum that strives to provide a global lens for people to appreciate art and culture by unveiling the hidden bonds among seemingly disparate worlds. The collection includes art from China, Algeria, Belgium, England, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Russia, Scotland, and the United States. The works range from traditional calligraphy and Western oil painting to modern ink brush landscapes, sculptures, and portraits.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at International Art Museum of America.

  • Chinese ink painting & calligraphy
  • Western Painting
  • Sculpture
International Art Museum of America
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $15 per person
  • 📍 1023 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Haas–Lilienthal House

Historic Site

The Haas–Lilienthal House is San Francisco's only Victorian house museum. It was constructed in 1886 by Jewish immigrants. The Queen Anne-style architecture house was miraculously spared in both the 1906 earthquake and fire! Explore this classic San Francisco home in a one-hour tour Wednesday through Sunday.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Haas–Lilienthal House.

  • Basement Ballroom
  • Original Principal Bedchamber
  • Nursery
Haas–Lilienthal House
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $10 per person
  • 📍 2007 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Fort Point National Historic Site

Historic Site

Fort Point, located on the southern side of the Golden Gate at the entrance to San Francisco Bay, is a masonry seacoast fortification. Although Fort Point never saw battle, the building has tremendous significance due to its military history, architecture, and association with maritime history. Fort Point National Historic Site provides Parks as Classroom programs designed to engage students in historic inquiry and environmental science.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Fort Point National Historic Site.

  • Bookstore
  • Cannons
Fort Point National Historic Site
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park

Specialty Museum

The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park is a unique space in the Bayview Hunter’s Point community of San Francisco. It is an educational facility that combines environmental education, experience-based learning, and habitat restoration. It was designed to be a classroom and serve as a model of green building technology. It is an off-the-grid facility with its own solar energy system including a living roof, sustainable building materials, on-site wastewater treatment, and rainwater harvesting and reuse systems. They host reoccurring activities like Zumba, Trail Engagement, Healthy Parks Healthy People, and more.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park.

  • Trail Engagement
  • A Living Roof
  • Healthy Parks Healthy People
EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 32 Jennings St, San Francisco, CA 94124

Chinese Culture Center

Cultural Center

Under the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, the Chinese Culture Center (CCC) is "dedicated to elevating underserved communities and giving voice to equality through education and contemporary art."

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Chinese Culture Center.

  • Present Tense 2019: Task of Remembrance
  • Beili Liu’s Lure
  • Summer Mei Ling Lee’s Into the Nearness of Distance (
Chinese Culture Center
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 750 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Chinese Historical Society of America

History Museum

The Chinese Historical Society of America is located in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood. It is the oldest and largest archive and history center documenting the Chinese American experience in the United States. The collection highlights the experiences of the Chinese in America. They offer tours of both the Museum and the surrounding Chinatown community.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Chinese Historical Society of America.

  • One Hundred Years: History of the Chinese in America by James Leong
  • Gum Shan (金山) paintings by Jake Lee
Chinese Historical Society of America
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $15 per person
  • 📍 965 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Children's Creativity Museum

Children's Museum

The Children's Creativity Museum, located in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens, is an interactive museum for children aged two through 12 years. It offers workshops and exhibits focused on getting children to produce their own media through various interactive, creative processes such as stop motion animation, programming robots, music video production, design challenges, art projects, and more.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Children's Creativity Museum.

  • Animation Studio
  • Tech Lab
  • Innovation Lab
  • Making Music Studio
Children's Creativity Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $15 per person
  • 📍 221 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

California Historical Society

History Museum

The California Historical Society is located on San Francisco's Mission Street. Its focus is on the environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural heritage of the state of California. The museum's collection includes 50,000 volumes of books and pamphlets; 4,000 manuscript collections; 500,000 photographs; printed ephemera, periodicals, posters, broadsides, maps, and newspapers. It also houses the Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing; 5,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, and lithographs; and numerous artifacts and costumes.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at California Historical Society.

  • Fine Art Collection
  • Manuscript Collection
  • Ephemera Collection
  • Photography Collection
California Historical Society
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $10 per person
  • 📍 678 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

American Bookbinders Museum

Private Museum

Located in the South of Market neighborhood, the American Bookbinders Museum is a small, not-for-profit museum. The museum opened in 2009 and is dedicated to showcasing the artistry, history, and craft of bookbinding. Its collection includes bookbinding machinery, with a focus on the transition in the 1800s from bookbinding by craftsmen, to bookbinding by machine.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at American Bookbinders Museum.

  • Imperial Arming Press, English 1832
  • Lying Press and Plough, American 20th Century
  • Board Shear, American 1870s
American Bookbinders Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $15 per person
  • 📍 355 Clementina St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Academy of Art University Automobile Museum

Private Museum

The Academy of Art University Automobile Museum is a conservator of automotive history and a tool for students in the industrial design department at the Academy of Art University. The museum is a non-profit, all proceeds go to both the Rotary Club and the Boys and Girls Club. Tours are available on Tuesdays from 11a to 1p and Thursdays from 2p to 4p.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Academy of Art University Automobile Museum.

  • Tucker 48
  • 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow
Academy of Art University Automobile Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $15 per person
  • 📍 1849 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Private Museum

We think it's safe to say everyone is familiar with Ripley's Believe It or Not! But did you know that Ripley first displayed his collection to the public at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933? Back then it was called Ripley's Odditorium and more than two million visitors came to explore Ripley's bizarre oddities. Today, there are Ripley's Believe It or Not! museums all over the world.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Ripley's Believe It or Not!.

  • Mirror Maze
  • Laser Race
  • The World’s Tallest Man
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $23 per person
  • 📍 175 Jefferson Street San Francisco, California 94133

Madame Tussauds

Private Museum

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum with waxworks of famous and historical figures, as well as popular film and television characters from famous actors. It was originally founded in London by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud (in 2011 it celebrated its 250th anniversary). The San Francisco location has six categories: Spirt of San Francisco, History & Leaders, Sports, Music, Film, and A-List Party.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Madame Tussauds.

  • Robin Williams
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jerry Garcia
Madame Tussauds
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $23+ per person
  • 📍 145 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Museum of the African Diaspora

History Museum

The Museum of the African Diaspora is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena arts district. It is one of the few museums focused exclusively on documenting the history, art, and culture of the African diaspora. The collection and exhibitions span the migration of Africans across history, from the diaspora at the origin of human existence through the contemporary African Diaspora around the world.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Museum of the African Diaspora.

  • The Sacred Star of Isis and Other Stories
  • Africa State of Mind
  • Rashaad Newsome
Museum of the African Diaspora
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $10 per person
  • 📍 685 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Conservatory of Flowers

Specialty Museum

The Conservatory of Flowers is a national, state and local landmark located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It was actually the first formal structure erected in Golden Gate Park. It houses flowers, foliage, and plants from around the world, with a concentration on tropical plants. It has five distinct galleries, each focusing on highlighting a different ecosystem, ranging from a tropical rainforest to the cloud forests perched on top of mountains.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Conservatory of Flowers.

  • Tropical Rainforest
  • Cloud Forests
  • Night Bloom
Conservatory of Flowers
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $9+ per person
  • 📍 100 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Beat Museum

Private Museum

The Beat Museum is located on Broadway (right across the street from the famous City Lights Books) in San Francisco. The museum is dedicated to spreading the values of the Beat Generation, “Compassion, Tolerance, and of Living One’s Own Individual Truth." The Beats were a group of post-WWII artists who challenged the social norms of the 1950s. The most famous members were Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Neal Cassady. The museum is home to lots of memorabilia from the era, hundreds of photographs of the Beats, and an extensive book selection.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Beat Museum.

  • original manuscripts
  • rare books
  • letters & personal effects
Beat Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $8 per person
  • 📍 540 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

Aquarium of the Bay

Science Museum

Aquarium of the Bay is located close to Pier 39 in San Francisco on The Embarcadero. The Aquarium is divided into four exhibits, Discover the Bay, Under the Bay, Touch the Bay, and North American River Otters. The exhibits are focused on local aquatic animals from the San Francisco Bay as well as neighboring rivers and watersheds.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Aquarium of the Bay.

  • Discover the Bay
  • Under the Bay
  • Touch the Bay
Aquarium of the Bay
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $29 per person
  • 📍 PIER 39 Embarcadero & Beach St. San Francisco, CA 94133

GLBT Historical Society

History Museum

The GLBT Historical Society Museum is located in San Francisco’s Castro District. It is the first stand-alone museum of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender history and culture in the United States. The museum's Main Gallery exhibition, “Queer Past Becomes Present,” documents the queer presence in the Bay Area from as far back as the Spanish explorers and missionaries to the present. The two other gallery spaces are dedicated to rotating exhibitions.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at GLBT Historical Society.

  • Personal belongings of Harvey Milk
  • A costume worn by activist and entertaining legend José Sarria
  • Publications related to lesbian activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon
GLBT Historical Society
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $5 per person
  • 📍 4127 18th Street San Francisco, CA 94114

Contemporary Jewish Museum

Art Museum

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) is located in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco. The museum was founded in 1984. It is a non-collecting museum which means instead of having a permanent collection it curates and hosts a broad array of exhibitions each year in collaboration with other institutions.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Contemporary Jewish Museum.

  • Annabeth Rosen: Fired, Broken, Gathered, Heaped
  • Levi Strauss: A History of American Style
  • Show Me as I Want to Be Seen
Contemporary Jewish Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $16 per person
  • 📍 736 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Cartoon Art Museum

Art Museum

The Cartoon Art Museum is located on historic Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco (and just a few steps away from Ghiradelli Square!). It was founded in 1984. The museum is home to approximately 7,000 original pieces of art including comic strips, comic books, anime, political cartoons, graphic novels, and underground comix.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Cartoon Art Museum.

  • The Malcolm Whyte Collection
  • The Alex Anderson Collection
  • Charles and Jean Schulz Collection
Cartoon Art Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $10 per person
  • 📍 781 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94109

San Francisco Cable Car Museum

History Museum

The Cable Car Museum was established in 1974. Today, it is located in San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood. Its exhibits are all about the San Francisco cable car system. The museum's collection includes various mechanical devices such as grips, track, cable, brake mechanisms, tools, detailed models, a large collection of historic photographs and several examples of old cable cars.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at San Francisco Cable Car Museum.

  • Sutter Street Railway
  • Clay Street Hill Railroad
San Francisco Cable Car Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 1201 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Asian Art Museum

Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum is located in the heart of San Francisco, directly opposite the San Francisco Civic Center. It is home to one of the most comprehensive Asian art collections in the world! Their extensive collection includes more than 18,000 works of art (some of which are 6,000 years old). The exhibition rooms include art from South Asia, Iran and Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, China, Korea, and Japan.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Asian Art Museum.

  • Japanese Tea House
  • Seated Buddha, 338. China, Later Zhao dynasty (319–350)
  • The Buddha triumphing over Mara, 900–1000
Asian Art Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $25 per person
  • 📍 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Cultural Center

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), located in Yerba Buena Gardens, is a large contemporary arts center in San Francisco. They feature visual art, performance, and film/video that celebrates local, national, and international artists as well as Bay Area's diverse communities. They are firm believers that artists are essential to social and cultural movements. YBCA is a non-collecting museum with year-round rotating exhibitions.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

  • The Body Electric
  • Art of Peace
  • Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $10 per person
  • 📍 701 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Walt Disney Family Museum

Private Museum

The Walt Disney Family Museum (WDFM) is located in The Presidio, a beautiful part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco. Its collection is focused on the life and legacy of Walt Disney. It features interactive galleries that include early drawings and animation, movies, music, listening stations, and a 12-foot diameter model of Disneyland. There is also a theater on the lower level of the museum, which screens Disney films daily.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Walt Disney Family Museum.

  • The Invention of the Storyboard
  • The Moviola
  • Propaganda Film Posters
Walt Disney Family Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $25+ per person
  • 📍 104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Art Museum

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is conveniently located nearby San Francisco's bustling downtown. With seven gallery floors and 45,000 square feet of free, art-filled public space, SFMOMA is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the United States. The museum's collection includes over 33,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, Figures with Sunset, 1978
  • Morris Louis, Untitled, 1959-1960
  • Henri Matisse, Woman with a Hat (Femme au chapeau), 1905
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $25 per person
  • 📍 151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Musée Mécanique

Private Museum

Musée Mécanique is a private museum located on Pier 45 at the foot of Taylor Street in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. It is one of the world's largest privately-owned collection of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines. They have more than 200 mechanical games including music boxes, coin-operated fortune tellers, Mutoscopes, video games, love testers, player pianos, peep shows, photo booths, dioramas, pinball machines and more. The best part is that all of the games are kept in working order! Admission is always free but you do have to pay to play the games.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Musée Mécanique.

  • Arm wrestler
  • Love tester machine
  • Grandmother fortune teller machine
Musée Mécanique
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $0 per person
  • 📍 Pier 45, Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133

Exploratorium

Science Museum

The Exploratorium is an awesome science museum located on Pier 15 on San Francisco's bayfront street, Embarcadero. The large museum is divided up into several smaller galleries each with a different theme and exhibits. These galleries include Human Phenomena, Tinkering, Seeing & Listening, Living Systems, Outdoor Exhibits and Observing Landscapes. At any given time there are approximately 600 hands-on interactive exhibits on the floor.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Exploratorium.

  • Mood Lighting
  • Energy from Death
  • Everyone Is You and Me
Exploratorium
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $30 per person
  • 📍 Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111

California Academy of Sciences

Science Museum

The California Academy of Sciences is a research institute and natural history museum located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park (right across from the de Young Museum). It is California's oldest museum and one of the largest museums of natural history in the world! Their permanent exhibits include the Steinhart Aquarium, the Morrison Planetarium, the Osher Rainforest, and the Kimball Natural History Museum.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at California Academy of Sciences.

  • Green Roof
  • Steinhart Aquarium
  • Osher Rainforest
California Academy of Sciences
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $31+ per person
  • 📍 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Alcatraz Island

Historic Site

Alcatraz Island is located in San Francisco Bay, about 1.25 miles offshore. The island has a complicated history including (but not entirely limited too) the following: Civil War fortress, military prison, federal prison, bird sanctuary, the first lighthouse on the West Coast, and the birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement. All-inclusive tickets to visit the island can be purchased through Alcatraz Cruises. The ticket price includes the ferry transportation service provided by Alcatraz Cruises, the cellhouse audio tour provided by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act fee. Once on the island, you can stay as long as you wish--there is a ferry departing back to SF about every half hour. You'll probably need about two to three hours to visit the whole island.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at Alcatraz Island.

  • Abandoned Prison
  • Oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States
  • Early military fortifications
Alcatraz Island
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $40+ per person
  • 📍 San Francisco, CA 94133

de Young Museum

Art Museum

Founded in 1895, the de Young Museum has been part of San Francisco for many years. It is located in San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park. The de Young's twisting 144-foot tower has turned this space into a landmark (pro tip: the tower is always free to visit). The museum's collection includes American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, Textile arts, and art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at de Young Museum.

  • The Tower
  • The Wire Sculptures by Ruth Asawa
  • Double Rainbow by Frederic Edwin Church
de Young Museum
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $15 per person
  • 📍 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

The Legion of Honor

Art Museum

The Legion of Honor was built to commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I. It is a beautiful Beaux-arts building located in San Francisco's Lincoln Park. The views from the museum are stunning as it overlooks the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge and much of San Francisco itself. The collection spans more than 4,000 years of ancient and European art. It includes the Hall of Antiquities, European paintings and decorative arts, a gilded Spanish ceiling, three-period rooms and more.

Highlights

Here are some of the "must see" items at The Legion of Honor.

  • The Thinker by Auguste Rodin
  • Detail of the Ceiling from the Palacio de Altamira from Spain, ca. 1482–1503
  • The Grand Canal, Claude Monet, 1908
The Legion of Honor
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🎟️ $15 per person
  • 📍 100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

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