The best museums in San Francisco in May 2023

These are the top 50 best museums in San Francisco, United States, ranked by their rating and popularity in 2023. Click a museum for more information about the museum, including visitor information, exhibitions and reviews.

For a complete overview of museums in San Francisco, their exhibitions and discount cards & passes, see our overview page with all museums in San Francisco.

These are the best museums in San Francisco:

  1. De Young Museum1

    De Young Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    Located in the Golden Gate Park, this long-operating museum (opened in 1895) offers its visitors a look at great collections of art. It is one of the two fine arts museums in San Francisco and was founded by newspaperman M. H. de Young. From modern paintings and sculptures to ancient American pott
  2. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art2

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    San Francisco, CA
    Known also as SFMOMA, this huge museum houses incredibly rich collection of modern and contemporary art. Even before stepping inside, spend a while with admiring the imposing architecture of the building. Inside, you will have the chance of exploring more than 30 000 works of art, including paintin
  3. Online discount!Aquarium of the Bay3

    Aquarium of the Bay

    San Francisco, CA
    Aquarium of the Bay is a public aquarium located at The Embarcadero and Beach Street, at the edge of Pier 39 in San Francisco, California . The aquarium is focused on local aquatic animals from the San Francisco Bay and neighboring rivers and watersheds as far as the Sierra Mountains. Since 2005 th
  4. Alcatraz Island4

    Alcatraz Island

    San Francisco, CA
    The well-known Alcatraz used to function as a prison with famous prisoners such as Al Capone. Nowadays, this place is a great museum of its history. You are invited to see its cellhouse, dining room, library, lighthouse and much more. Though you can easily explore the island on your own, there is
  5. Exploratorium5


    San Francisco, CA
    The Exploratorium is a museum of science , technology , and arts in San Francisco , California . Characterized as "a mad scientist's penny arcade, a scientific funhouse, and an experimental laboratory all rolled into one", the participatory nature of its exhibits and its self-identification as a cen
  6. Legion of Honor6

    Legion of Honor

    San Francisco, CA
    Overlooking the city's bay, this fine arts museum is housed in a marvelous building. It features a rich collection of mostly European art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. A part of the museum is also dedicated to graphic arts. Thanks to its unique architecture, the palace feat
  7. California Academy of Sciences7

    California Academy of Sciences

    San Francisco, CA
    Completely rebuilt in 2008, this new environment-friendly building houses one of the largest natural history museums in the world - more than 25 million specimens. You should not miss seeing the Living Roof - the building's rooftop which is actually covered by fields. Apart from the museum, the co
  8. Musée Mécanique8

    Musée Mécanique

    San Francisco, CA
  9. The Walt Disney Family Museum9

    The Walt Disney Family Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    A museum dedicated to Walt Disney, his personal life, and his achievements. The exhibition includes ten permanent galleries, organized chronologically. The museum also organizes various spotlight talks and film screenings. The rear side of the building features a glass wall which offers magnificent
  10. Conservatory of Flowers10

    Conservatory of Flowers

    San Francisco, CA
    Located in the famous Golden Gate Park, this conservatory dates back to 1878, which makes it the oldest building in the park. It houses more than 1500 plant species, including exotic and rare ones. If you want to learn more about the conservatory, you can join a guided tour led by a docent.
  11. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco11

    Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

    San Francisco, CA
    The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco – Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is a museum in San Francisco , California that specializes in Asian art . It was founded by Olympian Avery Brundage in the 1960s and has more than 18,000 works of art in its permanent collection, some as much
  12. Boudin Bakery12

    Boudin Bakery

    San Francisco, CA
    Founded in 1849, this bakery has been catering to San Franciscans the best sourdough French bread in California. This is no ordinary bakery - apart from buying bread and dining with a view of the bay, you can also see bakers at work through an observation window. It also houses a museum which will i
  13. USS Pampanito13

    USS Pampanito

    San Francisco, CA
    USS Pampanito (SS-383/AGSS-383) , a Balao -class submarine , was a United States Navy ship, the third one named for the pompano fish. She completed six war patrols from 1944 to 1945 and served as a Naval Reserve Training ship from 1960 to 1971. She is now a National Historic Landmark , preserved as
  14. Cable Car Museum14

    Cable Car Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    This San Francisco museum is the place to visit if you are in the least interested in cable cars or machines. Not only will you be able to enjoy going through their exhibition here, you will also be allowed to drive a cable car yourself. The museum, founded in 1974, is run by Friends of the Cable C
  15. Madame Tussauds San Francisco15

    Madame Tussauds San Francisco

    San Francisco, CA
    Madame Tussauds San Francisco is a wax museum located in Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco in California . The attraction opened on June 26, 2014 and became the 17th Madame Tussauds museum to open worldwide. The attraction features wax figures of famous figures from movies, music, politics, popular c
  16. SS Jeremiah O'brien16

    SS Jeremiah O'brien

    San Francisco, CA
    Docked in the Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 45, this historic ship fought in the Second World War. This fully functional Liberty ship still makes cruises and also serves as a living museum. Explore its inside including the engine room, which also featured in the famous Titanic movie.
  17. Cartoon Art Museum17

    Cartoon Art Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    You think that cartoon is not a true form of art? Well, take a peek into this newly relocated museum and you may as well change your mind. The main aim of this institution is to spread knowledge about cartoons and showcase its history and social impact. The permanent collection includes more than 70
  18. Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum18

    Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    Good Vibrations is a sex-positive San Francisco -based corporation selling sex toys and other erotic products. It operates nine retail stores: seven in the San Francisco Bay Area , one in Brookline, Massachusetts , and one in Harvard Square ; a mail-order business; an e-commerce website; a wholesal
  19. Yerba Buena Center For the Arts Gallery19

    Yerba Buena Center For the Arts Gallery

    San Francisco, CA
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts ( YBCA ) is a multi-disciplinary contemporary arts center in San Francisco , California, United States. Located in Yerba Buena Gardens , YBCA features visual art, performance, and film/video that celebrates local, national, and international artists and the Bay Area
  20. Children's Creativity Museum20

    Children's Creativity Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    The Children's Creativity Museum is an interactive museum for children aged 2-12 years, located in Yerba Buena Gardens , in San Francisco, California . It offers workshops and exhibits that allow children to produce their own media through various interactive, creative processes: stop motion animati
  21. The Contemporary Jewish Museum21

    The Contemporary Jewish Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) is a non-collecting museum at 736 Mission Street at Yerba Buena Lane in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco, California . The museum, which was founded in 1984, is located in the historic Jessie Street Substation, which was gutted and its i
  22. Maritime Museum - Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building22

    Maritime Museum - Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building

    San Francisco, CA
    The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located in San Francisco , California , United States. The park includes a fleet of historic vessels, a visitor center, a maritime museum, and a library/research facility. The park used to be referred to as the San Francisco Maritime Museum , ho
  23. Crissy Field Center23

    Crissy Field Center

    San Francisco, CA
    Educational lectures, cultural events and public workshops are organized in this environmental educational center. Very enjoyable!
  24. Chinese Historical Society of America24

    Chinese Historical Society of America

    San Francisco, CA
    The Chinese Historical Society of America ( simplified Chinese : 美国华人 历史 学会 ; traditional Chinese : 美國華人歷史學會 ; pinyin : Měiguó Huárén Lìshǐ Xuéhuì ; Jyutping : Mei gwok Waa jan Lik si Hok wui ; abbreviated CHSA ) is the oldest and largest archive and history center documenting the Chinese American e
  25. International Art Museum of America25

    International Art Museum of America

    San Francisco, CA
    The International Art Museum of America ( IAMA ), originally the Superb Art Museum of America , is an art museum located at 1023 Market Street between 6th and 7th Streets in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco, California . It was founded in 2011 by H. H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
  26. Ripley's Believe It Or Not26

    Ripley's Believe It Or Not

    San Francisco, CA
    Believe it or not, this museum houses a collection of the most extraordinary items. Two floors, 17 galleries, and more than 400 weird and quirky objects including, for example, duct tape art, a mummified foot, or statues made from toothpicks. The exhibition rooms are beautifully designed so they wou
  27. San Francisco Main Library27

    San Francisco Main Library

    San Francisco, CA
    The San Francisco Public Library is the public library system of the city of San Francisco . The Main Library is located at Civic Center , at 100 Larkin Street. The library system has won several awards, such as Library Journal 's Library of the Year award in 2018. The library is well-funded due to
  28. Haas-lilienthal House28

    Haas-lilienthal House

    San Francisco, CA
    The Haas–Lilienthal House is a historic building located at 2007 Franklin Street in San Francisco , California , United States, within the Pacific Heights neighborhood. Built in 1886 for William and Bertha Haas, it survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire. The house is a San Fr
  29. California Historical Society Museum29

    California Historical Society Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    The California Historical Society ( CHS ) is the official historical society of California . It was founded in 1871, by a group of prominent Californian intellectuals at Santa Clara University . It was officially designated as the Californian state historical society in 1979. Its headquarters are in
  30. Wells Fargo History Museum30

    Wells Fargo History Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    Built on the site of former Wells Fargo Bank, this museum features various exhibits on the history of banking. The exhibition is both interesting and educational - drive a stagecoach or see how vintage bank machines worked.
  31. Southern Exposure31

    Southern Exposure

    San Francisco, CA
    Southern Exposure (SoEx) is a not-for-profit arts organization and alternative art space founded in 1974 in the Mission District of San Francisco, California . It was originally founded as a grassroots, cooperative art gallery in conjunction with Project Artaud which was a live/work artist community
  32. Bay Area Discovery Museum32

    Bay Area Discovery Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a children's museum located in Sausalito, California inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area , which is right at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge . It was founded in 1987. The museum is geared to children from 6 months to 10 years of age with different are
  33. Museum of the African Diaspora33

    Museum of the African Diaspora

    San Francisco, CA
    The Museum of the African Diaspora ( MoAD ) is a contemporary art museum in San Francisco , California. MoAD holds exhibitions and presents artists exclusively of the African diaspora , one of only a few museums of its kind in the United States. Located at 685 Mission St. adjacent to the St. Regis H
  34. 34

    Museo Italo Americano

    San Francisco, CA
    Museo ItaloAmericano , also known as the Italian American Museum , is a museum in San Francisco , California , that focuses on Italian-American history, art and culture.
  35. Balclutha35


    San Francisco, CA
    Balclutha , also known as Star of Alaska , Pacific Queen , or Sailing Ship Balclutha , is a steel-hulled full-rigged ship that was built in 1886. She is representative of several different commercial ventures, including lumber, salmon, and grain. She is a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is cur
  36. American Bookbinders Museum36

    American Bookbinders Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    We tell the story of the book as a physical object, preserving and promoting the art and history of Western bookbinding, from the hand processes of the 16th century through the mechanization of the 19th century. Through tours, hands-on experiences, and exposure to the materials, techniques, and tech
  37. Glbt History Museum37

    Glbt History Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    The main aim of this museum is to promote and support LGBT society via showcasing exhibits on the community's history, culture, and arts. See exhibitions depicting the birth of San Francisco queer life.
  38. The Beat Museum38

    The Beat Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    Whether you are a fan of the Beat generation or not, this museum full of memorabilia is simply one of its kind. The museum also organizes walking tours that will take you along the footsteps of the Beats.
  39. Headlands Center For the Arts39

    Headlands Center For the Arts

    San Francisco, CA
    Headlands Center for the Arts hosts an internationally recognized artist-in-residence program, and interdisciplinary public programs. It is situated in a campus of artist-renovated military buildings in the Marin Headlands , in Marin County, California .
  40. Steinhart Aquarium40

    Steinhart Aquarium

    San Francisco, CA
  41. San Francisco Railway Museum41

    San Francisco Railway Museum

    San Francisco, CA
  42. San Francisco Armory42

    San Francisco Armory

    San Francisco, CA
    The San Francisco Armory , also known as the San Francisco National Guard Armory and Arsenal or simply The Armory , is a historic building in the Mission District of San Francisco, California . As of 2018, it is owned by SF Armory LLC, an affiliate of AJ Capital Partners .
  43. 43

    Autodesk Gallery

    San Francisco, CA
  44. California Society of Pioneers Museum and Library44

    California Society of Pioneers Museum and Library

    San Francisco, CA
  45. Pacific Heritage Museum45

    Pacific Heritage Museum

    San Francisco, CA
  46. Nike Missile Site SF-8846

    Nike Missile Site SF-88

    San Francisco, CA
  47. CCA Wattis Institute For Contemporary Arts47

    CCA Wattis Institute For Contemporary Arts

    San Francisco, CA
  48. Randall Museum48

    Randall Museum

    San Francisco, CA
  49. 49

    Museum of Craft and Design

    San Francisco, CA
    A museum devoted to showcasing contemporary craft and design. Its exhibitions are primarily focused on everyday usage of design.
  50. 50

    Tenderloin Museum

    San Francisco, CA
    As the name suggests, this museum will guide you through the history of San Francisco's neighborhood connected mainly to prohibition, immigrants, and LGBT - Tenderloin. You can also join various walking tours through the district.

All museums in San Francisco