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Bay Area Museums That are Always Free

Exploring San Francisco isn’t always cheap. Uncover the history of San Francisco without unloading your wallet with a visit to one of these free museums. The city is filled with many opportunities to learn about and experience everything that makes San Francisco so unique, but sometimes that can cost an arm and a leg. So, we’ve gathered up some of our favorite Bay Area museums that are always free and will always provide you with a memorable experience.

The Cable Car Museum

image of San Francisco cable car

Cable cars have become synonymous with San Francisco and the city’s history. From the first run in 1873 until present-day, the San Francisco cable cars have played an important role in the city’s past, present, and future. The Cable Car Museum houses a collection of historic cable cars, photographs, and mechanical displays where visitors can learn about the inventor, builders, and technologies behind the cable car. Open every day except New Year’s, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Admission is always free

The Streetcar Museum

The Streetcar Museum highlights and celebrates the San Francisco rail transit history and the significant role it has played in the city’s development. Featuring a full-sized exact replica of the motorman’s platform of a 1911 San Francisco streetcar. Open Tuesday – Sunday and admission is always free.

Museo Italo Americano

Focusing on the preservation of the Italian American heritage through art, language, and culture – the Museo Italo Americano was the first museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to Italian and Italian-American art. Along with their art exhibits, the museum offers a variety of Italian classes, lectures, and various presentations. Admission is free every day.

San Francisco Maritime Park

image of tug boat in water

Enjoy some time outside in the San Francisco Maritime Park and soak up a little bit of maritime history. Discover historic ships, the Aquatic Park Pier, The Maritime Museum, and so much more during your visit. Located in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, a visit to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf makes for a great add-on activity. As a National Historic Park, entrance is always free.

SF Fire Department Historical Museum

For a unique perspective of the city, visit the San Francisco Fire Department Historical Museum. As “guardians of the city”, the SF fire department dates back to the mid-1800s and notoriously fought the fires of 1849 and 1850 and many others. The museum now features, amongst other historical artifacts, the first ever fire engine built in California. Open Thursday – Sunday, 1:00 – 4:00 PM. Admission is always free with donations accepted.

There are also many museums that offer free entrance days on a monthly basis.

Stay at Inn San Francisco

While a stay at Inn San Francisco isn’t free, it is your best option for a charming bed and breakfast in the heart of San Francisco. Capturing the romantic spirit of the Victorian era, our inn provides guests with a lavish morning breakfast buffet, a spacious grand parlor, rooftop views of the city, garden patio, and luxurious accommodations.

image of inn san francisco

Enjoy an authentic San Francisco getaway at the Inn San Francisco and start planning your getaway today!


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