Every vacation requires a few things for a recipe to fully immerse in the local culture: local food and drink, sports, landmarks, nature, and art. Today, we will take a look at some of the best places to find unique art and cultural experiences in San Francisco.


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, also known as “SFMOMA”,  is home to exhibits of all kinds of styles and art eras. The museum has a rotation of temporary exhibits as well, so the art isn’t the same for long. Special events are hosted with artists and workshops every month, so make sure to check out the calendar on SFMOMA’s website to see if anything special is being held during your trip. SFMOMA is one of the most popular art destinations in the city, so tickets sell out quickly and lines can grow long. It’s best to purchase tickets ahead of time and arrive in the museum at an appropriate time to allow you to leisurely walk through the exhibits after a possible wait in line.


Balmy Alley

Balmy Alley is not your typical art museum, but rather a gallery of local San Francisco street art. There is no admission price, no lines and no explanation of the art next to each piece, which makes the experience more raw and open to interpretation. The alley is located in the Mission District between 24th Street and Garfield Square. Balmy Alley is best known for its political and human rights-centric murals dating back to the 1980s. Over time, the murals and messages have evolved to reflect today’s human struggles and political issues, but many murals have lasted the test of time. Feel free to stroll along the alley at your own discretion or opt for a guided tour to get more background and insight into each mural.

de Young Museum

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes the de Young Museum so amazing and breathtaking. Not only is the architecture of the building stunning, but the art and the views of the city from inside set it apart from other museums of its kind. This fine arts museum is located in the convenient location of Golden Gate Park, and there are plenty of things to do in and around the museum in addition to browsing the exhibits. During your visit, you will be able to have a true “farm to fork” meal, take a walk through the unique Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden, and don’t forget to take a trip up to the observation floor on the east end of the museum to get sweeping views of the city – yes, this includes the Golden Gate Bridge.


The Exploratorium is a unique experience where guests are able to learn through interactive art, science, and human perception exhibits. The Exploratorium is a great destination for both adults and families with exhibits sure to impress visitors of any age, such as the 10,000-toothpick sculpture of San Francisco. If an adult vibe is more of your style, the museum is open only to guests 18 and older from 6 p.m. to close every Thursday.


San Francisco has so many museums and art destinations to offer, and admission fees can start to add up once you really start getting a few museums deep in your tour. A great way to save tons of money on the various costs associated with touring multiple museums is the San Francisco CityPASS. With the CityPASS, you will only have to pay one flat price for free entry into a variety of fun destinations – not to mention many of the locations will also allow you to skip the long lines with the pass. You can snag a CityPASS at https://www.citypass.com/san-francisco, where you can also see what galleries and activities are included in the pass. The pass will last for nine days, so you are able to use it throughout the duration of your trip.