San Fran Museums

When we were planning what to do in San Francisco visiting some museums was on the list as well. Who would not want to go to the world-famous Alcatraz Island and visit the old unescapable prison? It is the main thing to do, right?

When I was trying to book tickets a few weeks in advance all tickets were sold out. It made us re-think how much we really wanted to see the island, so once we saw a few cancellation tickets available on the website, we chose not to book them. 70 dollars for a museum visit – no thank you. Besides, Matte said he would take me see an impressive Gaol in Dublin instead.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum tried to lure us in with Stanley Kubrick exhibition
Daniel Libeskind revamped the whole museum combining old and new


The frustration over museum prices actually became a theme during our visit. We wanted to visit Alcatraz, Exploratorium, de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences, but doing all those four museum would have cost us about 200 dollars. Anyone else think that after accommodation, transport costs and food spending hundreds of dollars only on museums is ridiculous?

Those are not even all the interesting museums in San Francisco, since there are a lot to choose from. There are cards available for tourists, that should save 50 % of the cost, but there are no card that would offer all the four museum we wanted to visit.


We both strongly feel that art and culture should be easily accessible for people of all ages, status or socio-economical background. The way to get people interested and appreciative of museums and their cultural message is to get people go in them, ideally from a young age. But there is no way a family of four with low income can splurge third of their monthly food budget on a museum visit.

de Young Museum
Designed by Herzog & de Meuron


Maybe we are spoiled by cheaper prices back home or during our travels in Australia, where almost all of the museum we visited (and there were plenty!) offered at least part of the museum free-of-charge.

Regardless of all this frustration we did end up paying the price for one museum. After debating about it in front of the entrance, we took out our credit card and payed up the entrance fee of 34,95 dollars per person. We had visited quite a few art museums over the last months, so it was time for something different: California Academy of Sciences.

What originally caught our eye was the green roof of the building, the museum was completely redesigned by encapsulating the old building with a contemporary structure by Renzo Piano in 2008.

The green roof and its little hills
The green roof and its little hills melting into the background

Once we got inside Matte wanted to see the roof before anything else.




Inside the science center we had fun and enjoyed it for a long time. They have different kind exhibitions about nature. For example a tropical dome, where butterflies and little birds fly around around you, was fun and reminded me of Biodome in Montreal, Canada.





But the best part was about the life in the sea. A massive big area with water tanks filled with all kinds of beautiful coral, plants and fish. This museum has the biggest indoor coral reef, Matte felt like missing out on a scuba diving opportunity. I’m sure he’ll go for a few dives back home.






There were so many things we had never before seen in our lives, and seeing all that extraordinary stuff made us feel like kids again. It also took us right back to the ever so Great Barrier Reef and our snorkeling and specifically scuba diving experience there, which was quite thrilling. There is so much we don’t know about the ocean, but the visit to the California Academy of Sciences was already a fascinating glimpse to the unknown.




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