Whether they’re free for a day in the month like the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts or all year round like The Wells Fargo History Museum, you’re always guaranteed to find a museum to visit for free in San Francisco.
1.California Academy of Sciences – Free third Wednesday of every month
This must-see museum is currently the only place that hosts a planetarium, natural history museum and aquarium all in the same place. Its versatility makes it a spot where any age group can find something they love. In addition to free first Wednesdays, they also have free admission four Sundays per year. Check their website in advance for currently scheduled free Sundays.
2. Musée Mécanique – Free admission / Pay to Play
Take a walk down memory lane with this curated collection consisting of more than 300 items ranging from coin operated pianos and video game machines, to pinball machines and antique slot machines. It’s free to roam around this arcade, basking in the historial machines, but show up with a few quarters to fully experience the magic of the Musée Mécanique.
3. San Francisco Cable Car Museum – Free All Year
No San Francisco museum list is complete without the San Francisco Cable Car Museum. From the iconic cable cars first run in 1873 to the present, visitors will learn about the inventor, evolution of its technology, and the continued efforts to save, rebuild and preserve them.
4. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – Free first Tuesday of every month
At the heart of San Francisco’s lively cultural district sits Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Comprised of two remarkably designed buildings connected by a pedestrian walkway, the center houses visual art galleries, forum event space and a film screening room and a a world-class stage.
5. The Autodesk Gallery – Free All Year
It’s no secret that San Francisco is a major hub for technology and innovation. See how Autodesk clients like Mercedes Benz and Nike design and engineer products to make the world a better place at this free gallery. Showcasing 20-30 exhibits at a time, see behind-the-scenes details like prototypes and experience hands-on technology.
6. de Young Museum – Free first Tuesday of every month
Located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and founded in 1895, the de Young Museum has provided millions of visitors with a rich collection of art from the Americas, Africa and Oceania for more than a hundred years. Experience cultures through textile arts, ritual objects, costume accessories and coins at this cherished museum.
7. Chinese Historical Society of America – Free All Year
San Francisco’s Chinatown is an integral part of the city. Delve deeper into the culture with the Chinese Historical Society of America, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the social, cultural and political history and contributions of the Chinese in America.
8. The Wells Fargo History Museum – Free All Year
Send an express package, use vintage bank machines, ride in a replica stagecoach and send a working telegraph at Wells Fargo’s flagship museum. The museum is located in the heart of the financial district, at the site where Wells Fargo first opened for business in 1852. It offers a rich history of how Wells Fargo provided banking and express services to pioneers in San Francisco during California’s Gold Rush.
With the San Francisco’s vibrant arts and lifestyle scene, it’s not hard to find a spot to soak in the culture. Pick any of the museums on our list and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
Which museum do you most want to visit?