San Francisco Museums + Attractions

San Francisco: Cable Car Museums Attractions

San Francisco Bay Area museums and attractions are among the best in the nation, and a great way to spend the day in the city. Several offer free days and discount tickets (Aquarium of the Bay, Cal Academy of Sciences, Pier 39, and more), and others are affordable every day.

ALSO SEE: Bay Area Museum Free Days, and Museums & Attractions in the East Bay (Berkeley, Oakland), North Bay (Wine Country), and  San Jose/South Bay.

  • Alcatraz IslandAlcatraz Island: The site of the first lighthouse and US fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the 18 month occupation by Indians of All Tribes which saved the tribes. Rich in history, there is also a natural side to the Rock – gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare.
  • Aquarium of the Bay {discount}: {Discount Tickets} A unique educational facility dedicated to the San Francisco Bay and its surrounding waters, including a 707,000-gallon aquarium, walk through 300-foot clear acrylic tunnels, and hands-on meetings with sea stars, urchins and sharks.Aquarium Bay Jellyfish
  • Asian Art Museum {free first Sundays}: One of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art, housing nearly 15,000 treasures spanning 6,000 years of history, representing cultures throughout Asia. Located in San Francisco.
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum {discount, free 1st Wed.}: Indoor/outdoor family museum with activities for children ages six months to eight years, including hands-on art and science exhibits, special performances and cultural festivals, near Golden Gate Bridge, in Sausalito.
  • Blue & Gold Fleet (discount): The Bay Area’s largest provider of ferry and water excursion services, and the exclusive provider of tours to Alcatraz under concession to the National Park Service. Provides Bay Cruises, ferries to Sausalito, Tiburon, Alameda/Oakland, Vallejo and Angel Island. 
  • Cable Car Museum {free admission}: Interactive demos on how cable cars work, cable car route maps with popular destinations, cable car fares and etiquette, and the location and hours for the San Francisco Cable Car Powerhouse.
  • calacademy-penguinCalifornia Academy of Sciences {discount/free days}: Newly remodeled one of a kind science museums with many amazing attractions, including Steinhart Aquarium, and many animal and natural history exhibits.
  • Cartoon Art Museum: {First Tuesdays Pay What You Wish} One of three museums in the United States preserving and exhibiting cartoon art in all its forms, housing approximately 11,000 original pieces and a complete volume research/library facility.
  • Conservatory of Flowers {free 1st Tues.}:  features four permanent galleries with plants rotated into the galleries as they bloom.
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum (SOMA): {Free First Tuesday} Dynamic exhibitions and programs that explore contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas.
  • de Young Museum - {Free First Tuesdays} Newly remodeled, the de Young is a landmark art museum that showcases many priceless collections of American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, and art of the native Americas, Africa, and the Pacific.
  • Exploratorium {resident discount, free days}: Now in a new and beautiful building on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, the Exploratorium features hundreds of science, art, and human perception exhibits. Located at Pier 15, between the Ferry Building and Pier 39. 
  • Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco: San Francisco’s largest public arts institution, comprised of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf {discount}: San Francisco’s most popular destination, known for its historic waterfront, fresh seafood, sights and unique shopping.
  • GLBT History Museum {free 1st Wed.}: Located in San Francisco’s Castro District, the GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States. The museum celebrates 100 years of the city’s vast queer past through dynamic and surprising exhibitions and programming.
  • Hornblower Cruises {discount}: Sail under the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy the festive lights adorning the Bay Bridge at night.A great way to see the San Francisco skyline, including the landmark TransAmerica Pyramid, Embarcadero Center’s four “fingers”, and Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill.Legion of Honor discount tickets
  • Legion of Honor {free 1st Tues.}: Art museum displaying an impressive collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art in an spectacular setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Muir Woods Monument: Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), one of the largest urban national parks in the world.
  • Museum of the African Diaspora: By reminding us that Africa is the birthplace of humankind, MoAD seeks to transform the way we perceive each other and ourselves. MoAD celebrates how we all, as one world, have changed and influenced the history and cultures of the African Diaspora.
  • PIER 39 sea lionsPier 39 {discount, coupons}: Provides visitors with postcard views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, the San Francisco Bay and the City skyline. Visitors can enjoy shopping, entertainment, dining, and more.
  • Presidio {free admission}:  Part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area. Centuries old architecture, a national cemetery, an historic airfield, forests, beaches, and spectacular San Francisco vistas.
  • Red and White Fleet Cruise {discount}: Offers several cruises including a Golden Gate Bay Cruise with headphone audio in twelve languages. Onboard the cruise, you’ll sail along San Francisco’s waterfront, under the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz. Located at Pier 43½ at Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • SF Botanical GardenSan Francisco Botanical Gardens {free 2nd Tues.}: Escape to a unique urban oasis of extraordinary beauty at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Explore our world of gardens, horticulture library, bookstore, and education programs. They also offer free guided walking tours and have amazing plant sales. Open 365 days a year. Located at the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, CA.
  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park: Walk onto the pier to visit the park’s collection of floating historic ships and for breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. Located on the edge of San Francisco Bay, in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood.
  • SFMOMA TicketsSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA): {Free First Tuesdays} The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is considered one of the world’s most innovative museums of modern and contemporary art.
  • San Francisco Zoo {coupon, local free days}: The largest zoological park in Northern California and one of the Bay Area’s most popular cultural and recreational attractions, the San Francisco Zoo is home to over 250 species of exotic and domestic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.
  • The Walt Disney Family Museum: Walt Disney’s simple sketch of Mickey Mouse launched an entertainment phenomenon that has spanned generations and revolutionized movies, music, television and theme parks around the world. Here in San Francisco, just minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, Walt’s remarkable story and achievements have been brought to life.
  • Wax Museum {discount} - Ancient art of wax sculpting with representations of celebrities, U.S. presidents, world leaders, and lots more. Located at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts {free 1st Tues.}: Presents arts and entertainment reflecting the San Francisco Bay Area’s diverse cultural populations. Program areas include visual arts, performing arts, film/video and education.