Benefits of Living in San Francisco

August 6th, 2019

What’s better than living in beautiful San Francisco? Living in SF and having access to free and/or discounted events just for being a resident, that’s what. San Francisco is always looking for ways to make life better for its residents. In addition, many of the top museums in the city host free days for residents or the general public. Wouldn’t it be great if someone made a list of all of these for you? You’re in luck because we researched all of the major discounts and created one easy-to-reference guide.


  • Free Tuition to San Francisco City College
    Keep your skills up-to-date with free classes from San Francisco City College, which now offers free tuition to all San Francisco residents who have lived in California more than a year.
  • Library
    Libraries in the Bay Area are generally open to all library members of that county’s library system. San Francisco City, on the other hand, offers a resident-only library. Go check it out, it’s great.
    Neighborhood: The Main branch is SOMA, but branches are located around the city.

Nature Museums

  • San Francisco Zoo
    Northern California’s largest zoological park and conservation center will periodically offer free admission to San Francisco residents. Check the calendar for the next upcoming free day.
    Neighborhood: Sunset

Photo courtesy of Grant Montgomery

  • Japanese Tea Garden
    Provides visitors the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese tea garden.
    When to go: Free days as well as discounted days for San Francisco residents. Get free admission before 10 am on Monday or Wednesday. Otherwise, residents receive a discount.
    Neighborhood: Between Haight Ashbury, Sunset, and Richmond.
  • Conservatory of Flowers
    The Conservatory of Flowers offers close-up experiences with rare, exotic, and endangered plants from around the world.
    When to go: General admission is discounted for San Francisco residents and is free to the public on the first Tuesday of every month.
    Neighborhood: Between Haight Ashbury, Sunset, and Richmond.

Science Museums

Photo courtesy of Justin Dolske

  • The Exploratorium
    Science and art museum featuring interactive exhibits.
    When to go: They have several free days throughout the year, as well as free (or discounted) admission if you work for some top employers in San Francisco. See their page for more info on dates/employers.
    Neighborhood: Embarcadero

Art & History Museums

  • Asian Art Museum
    One of the largest museums in the Western world exclusively featuring Asian Art spanning over 6,000 years in history.
    When to go: Free admission to main galleries first Sunday of each month.
    Neighborhood: Downtown

The Legion of Honor Museum (photo courtesy of Allan Fergusen)

  • Legion of Honor Museum
    Features an impressive collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art in one of the most beautiful settings on the West Coast.
    When to go: Free first Tuesday of each month (special exhibition fees may apply). If you attend any other time, you can also get a $2 discount with Muni or FastPass.
    Neighborhood: Richmond
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
    One of the Bay Area’s premier venues for exploring art exhibitions, performances, film/video, and more. When to go: Free first Tuesday of each month (special exhibition fees may apply).
    Neighborhood: SOMA
  • The de Young Museum
    An art museum showcasing American art collections from the 17th – 20th centuries.
    When to go: Free First Tuesday of each month. If you attend any other time, you can also get a $2 discount with Muni or FastPass.
    Neighborhood: Between Haight Ashbury, Sunset, and Richmond.
  • GLBT Museum
    Celebrates 100 years of the city’s LGBTQ history through dynamic exhibitions and programs.
    When to go: Free first Wednesday of each month.
    Neighborhood: Mission Dolores
  • Museum of Craft and Design
    Features artwork of the non-traditional variety, including furniture, kinetic sculptures, and jewelry.
    When to go: Free first Tuesday of each month.
    Neighborhood: Closest Neighborhood is Potrero Hill
  • Museum of the African Diaspora
    Dedicated to sharing art and history of African heritage.
    When to go: Free entry on the third Thursday of each month.
    Neighborhood: SOMA
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum
    Features dynamic exhibitions and programs that explore contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas.
    When to go: Free first Tuesday of each month.
    Neighborhood: SOMA

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (photo courtesy of Prayitno)

    The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art features over 33,00 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts.
    When to go: This museum doesn’t have a regular rotating schedule of free days but does offer period free-days to the general public or to families.
    Neighborhood: SOMA


  • Autodesk Design Gallery and Tour
    The Autodesk Gallery has more than 20 different regular exhibits featuring work of Autodesk customers.
    When to go: Open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with free audio tours available.
    Neighborhood: SOMA
  • San Francisco City ID Card
    This handy card streamlines access to various events, exhibits, and parks for San Francisco residents. Service as official proof of identity and residency. With this card, you can get a host of discounts at retailers throughout the city.
    One more: you can also get access to discounts for many of the city’s golf courses.

Now get out there and enjoy all that San Francisco has to offer—for less!

Cover photo courtesy of Ayelienne

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