Here is a list of free events, places, beaches, activities, local festivals and museums you can enjoy, all with little or no money.
Free Walk Tours - These free tours are lead by volunteers who love San Francisco. I recommend the walking tour of China Town and Golden Gate Bridge and City Hall but they are all great! (It's nice if you plan to tip your volunteer leader at the end of the tour a couple of dollars per person.)
TRANSPORTATION: Before getting started, please check out 511.org for trip planner, schedules and fares for public transit for San Francisco, East Bay and South Bay Area. Make sure you leave enough time in your travel for late buses and other events that may delay your trip.
MUSEUMS & MORE: The Academy of Sciences Free third Wednesday of each month. 55 Music Concourse Dr., SF CA 94118 Monday - Saturday 9:30 am - 5 pm Sunday 11 am - 5 pm (415) 379.8000 http://www.calacademy.org It's as if the new Academy brings the whole universe under one roof - an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and more! The 412,000 square foot structure is not only physically impressive, but it just may be the greenest museum on the planet, with a 2 1⁄2 acre Living Roof, an expansive solar canopy, an extensive water reclamation system, and walls insulated with recycled blue jeans.
Asian Art Museum Free first Sunday of each month 200 Larkin Street (between Fulton and McAllister Streets) SF, CA 94102 Tuesday - Wednesday 10 am - 5 pm Thursday 10 am - 9 pm Friday - Saturday 10 am - 5 pm Monday Closed http://www.asianart.org The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian Art, with a collection of over 17,000 artworks spanning 6,000 years of history. The museum is a public institution whose mission is to lead a diverse global audience in discovering the unique material, aesthetic, and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture.
Berkeley Art Museum Free first Thursday of each month. 2626 Bancroft Way (Between College and Telegraph), Berkeley, CA 94720 Wednesday - Sunday 11 am - 5 pm (510) 642-0808 http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley. Through art and film programs, collections and research resources, we aspire to be locally connected and globally relevant, engaging audiences from the campus, community, and beyond.
Cable Car Museum Free admission. 1201 Mason Street at Washington Street, SF 94108 Monday - Sunday 10 am - 5 pm (415) 474-1887 http://www.cablecarmuseum.org Houses a collection of historic cable cars, photographs, mechanical displays and gift shop run by the Friends of the Cable Car Museum - a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of cable car history.
de Young Museum Free first Tuesday of each month Golden Gate Park 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive San Francisco, CA 94118 Tuesday through Sunday 9:30 am to 5:15 pm Monday Closed 415.750.3600 http://www.famsf.org/deyoung Founded in 1895 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of the city and a cherished destination for millions of residents and visitors to the region for over 100 years.
Exploratorium Free first Wednesday of each month 10 am to 5 pm 3601 Lyon Street at Palace of Fine Arts http://www.exploratorium.edu The Exploratorium is an experimental, hands-on museum designed to spark curiosity—regardless of your age or familiarity with science. There are hundreds of exhibits to touch, pick up, and tinker with. Your curiosity can be your compass to endless discoveries!
Museo Italo Americano Free admission Museo hours: Tuesdays through Sundays 12-4pm Mondays by appt. 99 Marina Blvd Building C http://www.museoitaloamericano.org/ The Museo ItaloAmericano is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to Italian and Italian-American art and culture.
Museum of the African Diaspora Wednesday - Saturday 11 am - 6 pm Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm 685 Mission Street (at Third) SF, California 94105 (415)358.7200 http://www.moadsf.org Drawing from the collections of museums, institutes, organizations, universities and private citizens, MoAD is a collector of stories—a repository of information to be shared with all who wish to know about the African Diaspora.
Oakland Museum of California Free the second Sunday of each month 1000 Oak Street at 10th Street, Oakland 94607 (one block southeast of the Lake Merrit Bart station) Wednesday through Sunday 10 am - 5 pm Sunday Noon - 5 pm Monday - Tuesday Closed (510) 238-2200 http://www.museumca.org/ The Oakland Museum of California provides unique collections, exhibitions and educational opportunities designed to generate a broader and deeper understanding of and interest in California's environment, history, art and people. Museum programs are responsive, accessible and meaningful to the public, including school children, teachers, scholars, the immediate Oakland community, and an increasingly diverse California population.
Palace of the Legion Of Honor Free the first Tuesday of each month 9:30 am to 5:15 pm Clement St and 34th Ave http://www.famsf.org/legion The Legion of Honor, San Francisco's most beautiful museum, displays an impressive collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art in an unforgettable setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
SF Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) Free to AAU students with I.D. / Free first Tuesday of each month. 151 3rd St. (between Mission & Howard) Monday -Tuesday 11 am - 5:45 pm Wednesdays Closed Thursday 11 am - 8:45 pm Friday - Sunday 11 am - 5:45 pm (415) 357-4000 http://www.sfmoma.org/ Founded in 1935, SFMOMA was the first museum on the West Coast devoted to modern and contemporary art. From the outset, the museum has championed the most innovative and challenging art of its time, and we continue to exhibit and collect work by both modern masters and younger, less-established artists.
SF Zoo Free to SF residents on first Wednesday of each month(please see website for details). Open daily 365 days a year (will be closed on Christmas) 1 Zoo Road, SF, CA 94132 10 am - 5 pm (415) 753-7080 http://www.sfzoo.org The San Francisco Zoo connects people with wildlife, inspiring caring for nature and advancing conservation action.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum Free on Sunday, April 26, 2009 736 Mission Street (between Third and Fourth streets) SF, CA 94103 (415) 655-7800 Open daily (except Wednesday) 11 am - 5:30 pm Thursday 1 pm - 8:30 pm http://www.thecjm.org Since its founding in 1984, the Contemporary Jewish Museum has engaged audiences of all ages and backgrounds through dynamic exhibitions and programs that explore contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. Throughout its history, the Museum has distinguished itself as a welcoming place where visitors can connect with one another through dialogue and shared experiences with the arts.
GREEN SPACES Arboretum / Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park Free to enjoy Monday - Friday 8 am - 4:30 pm Saturday - Sunday & Holidays 10 am - 5 pm (415) 661-1316 http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org 55 acres of land stretch across San Francisco, laying out the foundation for a symphony of plants, flowers, and trees to share the roaring sound of nature with the public. A visit to this magical display of greenery consists of more than 7,500 varieties of flora from across the globe. As a result, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind on the West Coast. The San Francisco Botanical Garden is situated about the Golden Gate Park with a main entrance found on Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way. When coming from the Japanese Tea Garden, this attraction may also be reached through the Friend’s Gate.
Crissy Fields Crissy Field Center, Café & Bookstore is located at 603 Mason Street, Presidio, SF CA Monday - Sunday 9 am - 5 pm (415) 561-7690 Crissy Field Center Crissy Field is the park area along the northern shoreline of the Presidio of San Francisco. It is southeast of the Golden Gate Bridge between the Palace of Fine Arts and Fort Point. Mason Street runs parallel to Crissy Field.
Golden Gate Park Always free to everyone. http://www.golden-gate-park.com Visit the Academy of Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, free year-round outdoor concerts, de Young Museum, Japanese Tea Garden, etc..Go explore!
Justin Herman Plaza Justin Herman Plaza is located at the foot of Market Street at the Embarcadero, just behind the Hyatt Regency Hotel. It is just across the street from the Ferry Building.
SF PUBLIC PARKS
San Francisco has many beautiful parks scattered throughout its neighborhoods. Here are some resources to help you locate a park in your area, or if you would like to visit a park.
SF Parks & Recreation The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department's Mission is to provide enriching recreational activities, maintain beautiful parks and preserve the environment for the well-being of our diverse community. Check the website for features, news & events, activities, facilities, announcements & public notices. SF Parks & Rec website
Balboa Park Balboa Park is a neighborhood and public park in San Francisco, California. The neighborhood (sometimes referred to as Mission Terrace, Cayuga, or Ingleside) is located between Mission Street and Interstate 280 north of Geneva Avenue and the park is located on San Jose Avenue, north of Ocean Avenue. Inside of the park there is a public swimming pool, a children's playground, a stadium, baseball diamonds, tennis courts and the Ingleside police station. Pool: 51 Havelock St San Francisco, CA 94112 (415) 337-4701
Dolores Park Nob Hill / Grace Cathedral Marina, South Park, Washington Square
URBAN SPACES IN SF
Central YMCA Rooftop Garden 220 Golden Gate Avenue (between Dale Pl & Leavenworth St) SF, CA 94102 (415) 885-0460 http://www.ymcasf.org/
The Embarcadero The Embarcadero is the eastern waterfront roadway of the Port of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, along San Francisco Bay. It begins at the intersection of 2nd and King Streets near AT&T Park, and travels north, passing under the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. The Embarcadero continues north past the Ferry Building at Market Street, Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39, before ending at Pier 45. A section of The Embarcadero, was known as East Street, which ran between Folsom Street and Drumm Street.
Embarcadero Center and Maritime Plaza Approach from Sansome Street, between Sacramento and Clay streets. Cross Sansome Street and ascend a regal stone staircase with Roman columns, an arched pergola and a stair-step fountain cascading with water. On your right is the Old Federal Building and your left the Park Hyatt Hotel, The staircase deposits you on Embarcadero Center's Promenade Level. Ahead is the Cinema and beyond that the black metal grid of the Maritime Plaza Building. Follow the walkway left through the Embarcadero Center Building 2 (2EC).
100 First St. Outdoor Terrace For a South of Market outdoor terrace, walk down First Street until you come to 100 First St. just across Mission Street. Take the elevator up to the second floor.
Roof garden at Crocker Galleria Crocker Galleria is located on Post Street between Montgomery and Kearny streets. Take the escalator to the top floor and follow the sign to the roof garden. Step out onto the rooftop of the Wells Fargo Banking Hall (formerly the Crocker Bank); this lush open space provides a wonderful place for a brown-bag lunch or for take-out food from one of the many nearby restaurants. Roof Terrace at Crocker Galleria If you want more solitude than the busy roof garden offers, cross over to the Crocker Galleria's Roof Terrace in the northwest corner on the same level.
343 Sansome St. Roof Garden Walk along Market Street to Sansome Street, then turn left on Sansome until you're just past Halleck Street, to 343 Sansome. To get to the roof garden, take the elevator to the 15th floor. Step out to a gorgeous view of the Transamerica Pyramid.
Wells Fargo Rooftop Garden One Market Street at Stuart Street, Stuart Tower, seventh floor. A photo ID is required to obtain a visitor pass at the security desk. Enter on Market Street, between Spear and Stuart
EXPLORE OUTDOOR ACTIVITES Cal Sailing Club Cal Sailing is a non-profit cooperative that owns and operates a fleet of about 23 sailboats from 14 to 26 feet in length, and about 80 windsurfing boards including novice, intermediate, and advanced designs. Located on the south side of the Berkeley Marina, CSC's major activity is teaching sailing and boating safety to its members. The boats are also available to members for recreational sailing, cruising, and racing. Free sailing on open house, please check website for dates coinciding with high tides, a great opportunity to test the waters. http://www.cal-sailing.org/
Bay City Bike Located in the heart of San Francisco’s historical Fisherman’s Wharf, Bay City Bike offers self guided and guided bike rental tours. 2661 Taylor Street & 1325 Columbus Ave, Fisherman's Wharf, SF Open daily at 8 am (415) 346-BIKE http://www.baycitybike.com
Blazing Saddles All rental bikes include maps, helmets, locks, front packs, rear racks and bungee cords for FREE! Open daily at 8 am 5 Locations: 1095 Columbus @ Francisco St. Pier 41 Pier 43 1/2 2715 Hyde St. 465 Jefferson St. @ Hyde (415) 202-8888 http://www.blazingsaddles.com