The 10 Best Museums in San Francisco

San Francisco, with its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, historic cable cars, and vibrant cultural scene, is a city that never fails to charm. But beyond its picturesque streets and foggy bay views, the city is a treasure trove of museums that cater to a wide array of interests. From modern art aficionados to science enthusiasts, there’s a museum in San Francisco that’s sure to captivate your curiosity. Let’s dive into the top 10 museums that are a must-visit in this eclectic city.

1. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

As a beacon of modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA’s striking architecture is just the beginning. Inside, you’ll find an impressive collection that spans paintings, sculptures, photography, and media arts. The museum’s living wall, a massive vertical garden, is a breath of fresh air in the bustling city. With rotating exhibitions and interactive installations, SFMOMA keeps art lovers coming back for more.

2. California Academy of Sciences

Science comes alive at the California Academy of Sciences. This green-roofed marvel is an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum all rolled into one. You can explore the depths of a rainforest, get up close with colorful fish in the coral reef, or gaze at the stars in the state-of-the-art planetarium. It’s an immersive experience that’s both educational and entertaining.

3. de Young Museum

Nestled in the heart of Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum is a fine arts haven. Its diverse collection features American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international contemporary art, textiles, and costumes. Don’t miss the Hamon Observation Tower, which offers panoramic views of the park and the city skyline.

4. Exploratorium

At Pier 15, the Exploratorium is a playground for the curious. This interactive science museum encourages visitors to touch, tinker, and play with hundreds of exhibits. It’s a place where questions are celebrated, and discovery is around every corner. Whether you’re a kid or just a kid at heart, the Exploratorium is sure to spark your imagination.

5. The Legion of Honor

Art and history intertwine at The Legion of Honor. This museum’s impressive collection includes European paintings, decorative arts, and sculptures. The building itself, a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, is a work of art. With stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s a picturesque spot to soak in some culture.

6. Asian Art Museum

Home to one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian art in the world, this museum is a window into the rich artistic heritage of Asia. From ancient Chinese ceramics to contemporary Korean art, the museum’s exhibits span thousands of years and a vast array of cultures. It’s a cultural journey that’s both enlightening and inspiring.

7. Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)

MoAD celebrates the history, art, and cultural richness of the African diaspora. Through engaging exhibitions and community programs, the museum showcases the global impact of African art and culture. It’s a vibrant space that fosters a deeper understanding of our shared human experience.

8. Contemporary Jewish Museum

With its striking architecture, the Contemporary Jewish Museum stands out in the city’s museum landscape. The museum explores the Jewish experience through innovative exhibitions that blend art, history, and culture. It’s a place that challenges perceptions and invites dialogue.

9. Cable Car Museum

For a slice of San Francisco history, the Cable Car Museum is a delightful stop. Here, you can learn about the invention and development of the cable car system that has become synonymous with the city. The museum is both informative and nostalgic, offering a glimpse into a bygone era.

10. Walt Disney Family Museum

Located in the scenic Presidio, the Walt Disney Family Museum is a tribute to the life and legacy of Walt Disney. The museum tells the story of the man behind the mouse, with interactive galleries that feature early drawings, animations, and even an Oscar or two. It’s a magical experience for Disney fans of all ages.


  • What’s the best time to visit these museums?
    The best time to visit is typically on weekdays when crowds are smaller. Many museums also offer free admission on certain days, so check their websites for details.
  • Are there any combined tickets or passes for multiple museums?
    Yes, the San Francisco CityPASS and Go San Francisco Card include admission to several of these museums and can save you money if you plan to visit multiple attractions.
  • Can I take photographs inside the museums?
    Photography policies vary by museum. Some allow non-flash photography for personal use, while others may have restrictions. Always check the museum’s policy before snapping pictures.


San Francisco’s museums are as diverse and dynamic as the city itself. Each one offers a unique glimpse into the worlds of art, science, history, and culture. Whether you’re marveling at modern masterpieces at SFMOMA or exploring the wonders of the natural world at the California Academy of Sciences, these institutions are sure to leave you enriched and inspired. So next time you’re in the Bay Area, make sure to add these top museums to your itinerary. You won’t regret it!

Remember, the best way to experience these cultural gems is to go with an open mind and plenty of time to explore. Each museum holds a universe of knowledge and beauty waiting to be discovered. Happy museum hopping!

Kurby Team

The Kurby Content Team is a diverse group of seasoned real estate experts dedicated to providing insightful, reliable information for homebuyers, real estate investors, and real estate agents. With backgrounds ranging from real estate brokerage, property investment, and residential home buying, our team combines decades of experience with a passion for demystifying the real estate world. We at Kurby are committed to helping you make informed, successful real estate decisions. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a real estate professional, count on the Kurby Content Team to deliver the most relevant, actionable real estate content you need.