Take the kids to The California Academy of Sciences; one of San Francisco’s best museums
Welcome to the Neighborhood, A Series About San Francisco Neighborhoods
One of San Francisco’s best museums; the de Young Museum
Autumn is upon us, a time of year that always puts us in the mood to expand our cultural lives and to seek out mental stimulation. Must be all those years of heading back to school at this time of year that makes us want to get those neurons firing. Now that we’re in charge of creating our own curriculum, we choose something much more fun than the three R’s – we head out to San Francisco’s museums. Art, history, cultural studies and even cartoons await at our favorite spots.
The following “Big Six” museums are the most well-known and popular museums in San Francisco:
de Young – This museum has been a cultural destination in San Francisco since 1895, and has located in its current home on Tea Garden Drive in Golden Gate Park since 2005. Besides the art of course, the two things we really love about this spot – one is the observation tower from which you can see panoramic views of San Francisco, the Pacific & the Marin Headlands. The other is the sculpture garden with works by Joan Miró, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, and Claes Oldenburg. Both of these spots are free of charge and are a good way to get a quick museum fix.
Pop in for tea at San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden
California Academy of Sciences – Across the street from the de Young, you’ll first notice this museum’s living roof. Don’t miss the Aquarium and the rainforest habitat. After you’ve “done” both the de Young and the Academy – you can pop over the Japanese Tea Garden to contemplate your experience.
SFMOMA– Visit San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art and unleash your creative imagination.
Visit San Francisco’s Legion of Honor European paintings collection and pretend you are in Paris.
Legion of Honor – We love the Rodin sculpture “The Thinker” at the entrance of this museum. Combined with the European paintings collection, we feel like we’re in Paris (our second favorite place in the world!). Plus, the views out the Pacific and the Marin Headlands from the grounds are amazing. Oh, and if you’re a fan of the Hitchcock film “Vertigo”, then you’ll recognize this spot as a location in the film.
Asian Art Museum – Since Asian cultures have had a big influence in San Francisco is only natural for San Francisco to house the most spectacular Asian art museum in the country.
Exploratorium – We know people who have had to drag their kids out of this place, so plan to spend a decent amount of time here. Best for kids under the age of 13.
And here are a few spots that are less well-know, but we love them just as much!
Close to SFMOMA, the Contemporary Jewish Museum is worth a trip
Contemporary Jewish Museum – The building is AMAZING! The exhibits always provocative and often humorous. Located a couple of blocks from SFMOMA, you can combine the two for a v. contemporary day.
Cartoon Art Museum – With the rise of the graphic novel, this museum is particularly relevant.
Wells Fargo History Museum – One of our favorite spots in the city! There is an original stage-coach as well as a replica that you can sit in to figure out whether you would have been comfortable traveling across the country with only 15 inches of space to occupy. If you’re in the financial district, this is totally worth a drop in. And it’s free!
Musee Mechanique – Okay, we’re stretching the definition of museum with this one! Get a roll of quarters and plan for about an hour of old-time amusements.
If you are in San Francisco’s Financial District, Wells Fargo History Museum is free!
Museum of Craft and Folk Art – We really love the Craft Bar with Etsy Labs at MOCFA, where you can learn to make art – the most recent session included teaching participants how to knit with old VHD tape.
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