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The Best Museums in San Francisco

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Poised at the edge of the continent and with a history as a magnet for innovation, San Francisco has a host of impressive and forward-thinking museums, with exhibits that draw both from local and international  cultures. In addition to favorites like the California Academy of Science, SFMoMA, and the De Young, visitors are captivated by exhibits at the Exploratorium, as well as institutions for special interests (Judaism, Asian culture, Beat Literature, the African diaspora), and showcases for the offbeat (like streetcars and arcade machines).
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55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

The California Academy of Sciences is an unfortunately stuffy name for an institution that is anything but staid. The country's largest natural-history museum includes an aquarium, a planetarium, an enormous rain-forest exhibit under a...

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50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
The de Young Museum, with its perforated copper facade and spiraling tower in the center of Golden Gate Park, is as dramatic outside as it is inside. Follow the widening crack in the sidewalk into the atrium. It's an Andy Goldsworthy–created...
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151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
It had been a long wait for modern art lovers, but after a three-year closure and a $305 million renovation and expansion, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) reopened in May 2016, and was it ever worth the wait. A new 10-story...
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736 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

While San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum dates back to 1994, it moved into its current location in 2008. The heart of the museum's new home is a 1907 Pacific Gas & Electric power substation, with additions designed by one of...

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685 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) intends to connect all people of African descent through history, art, and culture. Exhibitions are often largely focused on the African-American diaspora, exploring shared experiences and culture. A...
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701 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Right in the center of downtown, across from the SFMOMA and the Jewish Contemporary Museum, The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts holds a unique place in the San Francisco arts community. It's dedicated to contemporary visual art, performance, and...
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104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
This museum does so much more than tell you about Walt Disney's life—it reminds you of the struggles that all creatives face throughout their careers. The experience is unexpected, interactive, and current for kids and adults alike. The view onto...
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375 Rhode Island St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
If you're a book lover, you'll be intrigued and delighted by this rare space dedicated entirely to the appreciation and teaching of the art of traditional bookmaking. The first center of its kind on the West Coast, San Francisco Center for the...
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Pier 45, Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Musée Mécanique, at Pier 45 in Fisherman’s Wharf, is one of the largest privately held collections of vintage mechanical arcade machines in the world. Displaying some 200 pieces from the more than 300 acquired by Edward G....
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221 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
The Children's Creativity Museum is an interactive art and technology museum on a mission to help kids (and families) develop the skills they will need to thrive in the 21st century. Eschewing the traditional approach of learning through...
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77 Steuart St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
The San Francisco Railway Museum packs a lot into its one room. The history of the city's transit is full of corruption and activism, and it's all spelled out in the museum displays. There are cases full of great old tickets and passes and...
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608 Commercial St, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
A great little hidden spot to bring your lunch in downtown San Francisco. If you have a few minutes, check out the pacific heritage museum next door. (Free Admission)
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540 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Crazy for Kerouac? Mad for Ginsberg? Head to the Beat Museum in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, where many of the writers, artists, and thinkers you’ll be learning about spent their time drinking and carousing in the 1950s...
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Pier 15 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Ask anyone you know who grew up in the Bay Area about the Exploratorium, and they’ll likely be able to share stories of class trips and seeing their hair stand on end at an installation about electricity or fun-house mirrors that...