• Posted:Wednesday, September 7, 2016
  • Comments: 0

San Francisco’s five best museums

Posted in: City Focus
San Francisco’s five best museums

Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.

This eclectic city is not to be missed on your California adventure. San Francisco has a unique vibe that brings in over 16 million people a year. This place has something for everyone, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz, Chinatown, amazing seafood and one of the oldest LGBTQ scenes in the USA.

There are many attractions to see in this vibrant city, but if you’re a museum-lover then this is definitely the place for you. The best time to visit is on a Thursday when most of the museums are open late (until 9pm) which means you have even more time to explore. Here are five of the best museums in the city of love.

Asian Art Museum

This museum has one of the largest collections of Asian art in the entire world. With over 17,000 pieces of work, including sculptures, paintings and furniture from the likes of China, Japan, Indonesia, India and Southeast Asia, it’s no wonder this place is one of the top museums to visit in the city. There are over 6,000 years worth of history located in just one place, including artefacts such as porcelains from Ming Dynasty and Japanese Buddhas. The Asian Art Museum is open from Tuesday- Sunday from 10am until 5pm, except on Thursday when it’s open until 9pm.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

After being reopened in May 2016 following a huge renovation, the Museum of Modern Art has become one of the most popular places to visit. If you’re an art fanatic you’ll feel like you’ve just walked into heaven after visiting this fantastic building. It holds over 33,000 masterpieces from artists such as Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol. The museum is actually one of the largest in the United States for showcasing modern and contemporary art. Make sure you don’t miss this newly renovated museum open from Friday- Tuesday 10am until 5pm except on Thursday when it’s open until 9pm.

de Young Museum

Located in the Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum is one of the most important sections of San Francisco’s culture. The museum holds an incredible collection of more than 27,000 pieces of fine art—and it’s all housed in one of the most futuristic buildings you will come across in the city. The building itself is an attraction you must see as it’s simply out-of-this-world. From pieces ranging from the 17th until the 20th century, this is one of the top places for an avid museum lover.


The Exploratorium is an incredible museum with over 600 science exhibits that you can interact with, making it a fun, exciting place to spend the day. It’s the length of three football fields scattered with fascinating exhibits such as the ‘fog bridge’ which covers visitors with a mist from 800 high-pressure nozzles and there’s also the Tactile Dome, which is a crawl-through maze situated in complete darkness so you have to use your sense of touch to find your way out. One of our favourite features are the glasses which tilt your vision diagonally while you try to shoot some basketball hoops. It’s seriously not just for kids.

Legion of Honor

The Legion of Honor was built in 1924 as a memorial to the Californians who died in World War I. You may think you have suddenly been transported to France as this building is an adaptation of the Palais de la Legion d’Honneur situated in Paris. This fine art museum is not only known for its extensive collection of masterpieces, but also the marvellous view that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco. There’s over 4,000 years worth of ancient and European art including pieces from Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin and El Greco. The glass pyramid located in the courtyard is not only reminiscent of The Louvre, but actually has a purpose as it acts as a natural skylight for the gallery. The Legion of Honor is open from Tuesday – Sunday from 9.30am until 5.15pm.

Where to stay?

HI San Francisco - Fisherman's Wharf is set on the grounds of Fort Mason overlooking the bay—a stunning spot to soak up the unique atmosphere of San Francisco. As well as comfy dorms and private rooms, they offer free breakfast and Wi-Fi plus parking. Wheelchair friendly!

Elsewhere, USA Hostels San Francisco is one of the original hostels in the area, offering super-modern facilities in the heart of downtown. And with free all-you-can-eat pancakes for breakfast, discounted tours and a massive kitchen, it’s no wonder they’re so popular.

So whether it’s modern science or ancient art, there’s something for everyone to see in the magical city of San Francisco. Which museum will you pick—or will you visit all five? Tell us below!

By: heather.thompson

Add your comment:

Spam filter, please enter the answer to 5 + 16
City Guides and Information

Video guides, travel podcasts, city maps & free city guides. What to eat, where to stay and things to do and see - our travel guides have it all.

Find a guide »
Latest Blog Post

We want to make sure that you get to explore as much of Paris as possible and that includes the nightlife scene. We've compiled some of the best places in Paris to check out if ...

Read more »
Great Value and Choice

We offer the most comprehensive selection of hostels on the internet with over 33,000 great places to stay in 170 countries. The ultimate online resource for hostels everywhere.

Find great value hostels »