Family Friendly Museums of San Francisco
San Francisco’s devotion to the arts extends to teaching young ones the importance of art and culture. Many museums feature youth-oriented programs. Here are just some of the City’s kid-friendly museums:
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
200 Larkin St., (between Fulton & McAllister, across from City Hall) Civic Center District, San Francisco, CA 94102
The Asian Art Museum is one of the largest museums in the western world devoted exclusively to Asian art. Its collection spans 6,000 years of history and reflects the major cultures and religions found throughout Asia. Family programs include storytelling offered every Sunday and more (www.asianart.org/family.htm). Hours: Tues.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thurs. until 9 p.m. Admission: $12 adults, $8 seniors, $7 ages 13-17 and college students with ID, $5 after 5 p.m on Thurs., children 12 and under free. First Sun. of the month free.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965 Marin County/Sausalito
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a one-of-a-kind indoor/outdoor children’s museum located next to the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, offering hands-on art and science exhibitions, cultural festivals and special events. Kids can explore a shipwreck, collaborate on natural art projects, grab the “catch” of the day in a simulated Fisherman’s Wharf, or discover the wind, currents and creatures of the Bay. Tues.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m, Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed last two weeks of Sept. $10 adults, $8 children 1-17, $8 seniors 62+, infants under 1 free. Free on first Wed. of each month from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118
Families can explore earth, ocean and space in the only place in the world to combine a natural history museum, aquarium, planetarium and world-class research and education facility under one roof. Designed by award winning architect Renzo Piano, the world’s largest public green building is topped with a living roof, a 2.5-acre expanse of native California plants, providing a habitat for birds, butterflies and insects, which blends seamlessly into the beautiful landscape of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Park. Daily interactions with animals, educators and biologists within immersive, hands-on exhibits offer discovery and wonder for visitors of all ages. The Academy inspires lifelong curiosity and appreciation for the natural world. Experience the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest and fly to the outer reaches of the Universe. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-
5 p.m.; Admission: $24.95; children 6 and younger, free; children 7-11, $14.95 ; youth 12-17, students 18+ (with I.D.) and seniors 65+ (with I.D.), $19.95. Free third Wed. of each month.
Cartoon Art Museum
655 Mission St., Mission District, San Francisco, CA 94105
The Cartoon Art Museum is the only museum west of the Appalachian Mountains dedicated to the preservation, education and exhibition of cartoon art in all forms. View rare, original cartoon art. Open daily 11a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Mon. and holidays. Admission is $6 for adults; $4 for students and seniors; $2 for children age 6-12; under age 5 free. The first Tues. of every month is “pay what you wish day.” (Some exhibits may not be suitable for children).
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission St., Yerba Buena, San Francisco, CA 94105
Newly opened in downtown San Francisco in June 2008, the Contemporary Jewish Museum presents dynamic exhibitions and educational programs, exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history and ideas. To see programs for families, visit www.thecjm.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&view=article&id=15. Hours: Mon.-Tues., Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Thurs. 1-8:30 p.m, closed Wed.. Admission $10 adults, $8 seniors and students with valid ID, age 18 and under free.
de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118
Located in Golden Gate Park, the museum’s state-of-the-art facility integrates art, architecture and natural landscape. For family programs, visit www.famsf.org/fam/education/subpage.asp?subpagekey=9. Hours: Tues.-Sun. 9:30 a.m-5 p.m., Fri. until 8:45 p.m.; closed Mon. Admission: adults $10, $7 seniors, $6 youth 3-17 and college students with ID, age 12 and under free. First Tues. of each month free.
The Exploratorium – Palace of Fine Arts
3601 Lyon St., The Marina District, San Francisco, CA 94123
The Exploratorium is the original hands-on science museum – its interactive exhibits make learning fun. The museum offers a number of events and exhibits that are listed on their Web site. The museum is open year-round, but closed on Mon. Children are $9 (children under the age of 3 are free) and adults are $14. Admission is free the first Wed. of every month.
San Francisco Cable Car Barn & Museum
1201 Mason St., Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108
The City’s cable car system is run from a circa 1907 red brick barn. Examine the winding machinery designed to make the motorless cars navigate city streets and study Andrew Hallidie’s original prototype Car No. 8. Hours: open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: free.
San Francisco Fire Department Museum
655 Presidio Ave, Western Addition, San Francisco, CA 94115
The San Francisco Fire Department Historical Society (SFFDHS) preserves the heritage and records the history of the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD). Guests can see displays of documents, graphic items, fire memorabilia, apparatus, appliances and other items. Admission is free. Hours: Thurs.-Sun., 1p.m -4 p.m.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
151 Third St (between Mission & Howard), Yerba Buena, San Francisco, CA 94103
The SFMOMA offers the West Coast’s most comprehensive collection of modern and contemporary art. To see special programs for families, visit www.sfmoma.org/education/edu_inthemuseum_fprog.asp. Hours: 11a.m.-6 p.m., Thurs. until 9 p.m.; closed Wed. and major holidays. Admission: adults $12.50, $8 seniors (age 62 and over), $7 students with ID, age 12 and under free with an adult. First Tues. of each month is free; Thurs. 6 p.m.-8:45 p.m. is half-price.
Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf
145 Jefferson St, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133
Every day of the year visitors can come face to famous face with the most renowned personalities of history, fantasy and today’s news. The Wax Museum features wax replicas of heroes, stars, religious and world leaders. Admission: $6.95 for children 6 and younger; $9.95 for juniors (age 12-17) and seniors (55+); $12.95 for adults. Open daily 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. except for holidays. Call 415-202-0402 for holiday hours.
221 Fourth St, Yerba Buena, San Francisco, CA 94103
San Fransisco’s Children’s Museum. A multimedia arts and technology museum where kids and families explore creativity through hands-on programs including clay animation, video production, and more. Hours: school year hours Wed.-Sun. 1-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 11a.m. –5 p.m.; summer hours Tues.-Sun. 11a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: $8-10; free for members and children under age 4.
Read our article for more kid friendly activites in San Francisco.