SIGN UP FOR OUR EMAIL TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE 2021 SAN FRANCISCO PLANNING GUIDE.

de Young Museum San Francisco: Hours, Parking, & Other Tips for this Fine Arts Museum

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: July 7, 2021

The de Young Museum in San Francisco is a must see for all fine art lovers. This amazing museum is home to more than 25,000 works of art on display from around the world.

You will get the chance to explore exhibits that include pieces from pre-Columbian America to 20th century America, as well as artwork from sub-Saharan Africa, New Guinea, and Indonesia.

In addition, you will fall in love with their large textiles display, a changing photography exhibit, and their interesting special exhibits.

Highlights for the de Young Museum San Francisco

  • Timed ticket holders must enter the building within 90 minutes after the time on their tickets. Timed tickets must also be purchased in advance for special exhibits.
  • Please remain 6 feet apart from other museum visitors.
  • Follow directional signs to allow for easier social distancing.
  • The café is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with seating both indoors and outside. Water fountains are open and a touchless bottle filling station is located on the lower level of the museum
  • de Young Observation Level, Coat Check, de Youngsters Studio, and Piazzoni Murals Room will remain closed for now. Water fountains in the museum are also closed. 

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

More Fun Activities Currently Open in San Francisco

Everything You Need to Know About the de Young Museum San Francisco

The deYoung fine arts museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

How much is admission to the museum? Is there an extra fee for special exhibits?

Does the de Young Museum San Francisco offer free days? What other discounts are available?

What are the hours and what days are you closed?

Where is the museum located?

Do you offer docent led tours and how much do they cost?

What exhibits are in their permanent collection? Where is a calendar of their current and upcoming special exhibits?

Is the Hamon Education Tower Observation deck free?

When is the best time to visit the museum? How long should I set aside for my visit?

Do they have a café or a place to eat inside? 

What is the best way to get to the museum? How do I get between the de Young and the Legion of Honor?

Do they offer parking near the de Young Museum and how much does it cost? 

What are the best hotels to stay at nearby?

What are a few other things to see and do nearby?

Is the museum ADA accessible?

What is the history of the de Young Museum San Francisco? 

de Young Museum San Francisco Tickets

These are the admission prices to visit the de Young Museum San Francisco. Your general admission ticket offers you admission to both this museum and the Legion of Honor on the same day.

  • $15: Adults (18 to 64 years of age)
  • $12: Seniors (65+)
  • $6: Students (w/ valid ID)
  • Free: Youth and Children (17 and under)
  • Free: Hamon Education Tower Observation Deck

They also host several traveling exhibits throughout the year. Most of these require an additional ticket. Prices for these exhibits range from around $10 to $35+ per exhibit.

Free Admission Day at the de Young Museum San Francisco

The de Young Museum in San Francisco offers a free day once a month. You can visit for free on the first Tuesday of the month. On the free day, you will gain access to their permanent collection of more than 25,000 pieces of art.

For a limited time, they are also offering free admission on the first Saturday of the month for all SF Bay Area residents with a local ID. You must reserve your tickets online and in advance and only applies to the permanent exhibits.

There is a charge on their free day for most of their special exhibits.

Make sure to arrive early as admission is on a first come, first served basis.

>> Find a calendar of upcoming free days for all SF museums

Other Discounts

There are also a few other ways to save on your visit.

Public Transit Discount: You will receive $2 off if you take public transportation to the museum. They will take this off the purchase price with proof of payment on public transit when you purchase tickets in person.

Bank of America Museums on Us: The de Young Museum in San Francisco also participates in the Bank of American Museums on Us program. This program allows free admission to the museum on the first weekend of every month for both Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders. You will receive free admission on a first come, first served basis, so arrive early to take advantage of this offer.

Hours

The museum is open every day except on Monday. They do open on Mondays for certain holidays such as Memorial Day or Labor Day.

  • Tuesday - Sunday: 9:30 am - 5:15 pm
  • Monday: Closed, except for certain Monday holidays
  • Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

Museum Location and Maps

The de Young Museum in San Francisco is located in Golden Gate Park. It's address is 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. The first map below shows where it's located within San Francisco. The second is a closer look at where it's located in Golden Gate Park.

Map of the de Young Museum in San FranciscoBlack star shows the location of the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
Map of the de Young in Golden Gate ParkThe black star shows where the de Young is located. The red start is the California Academy of Sciences.

Docent Tours at the de Young Museum San Francisco

NOTE: Docent tours are not being offered at this time.

If you want to learn even more about some of the exhibits and special pieces at the de Young Museum San Francisco, check out the different tours when you arrive. This museum offers both audio tours and docent-led tours.

The audio tours are go-at-your-own-pace. There is an additional charge for these tours. You can rent the audio near the ticket counter at the main entrance.

The docent-led tours are free, although special exhibit tickets are required for tours in certain exhibits. Some of the daily tours include:

  • Three Masterpieces in 30 Minutes
  • Exploring World Cultures: Art from Africa, the Pacific Islands, or the Americas
  • American Art: Colonial through Contemporary

Tours and tour times change frequently, so pick up a Daily Tours guide when you arrive for your visit. Advance registration is not necessary for these tours.

Galleries in the de Young Museum San Francisco

Here is a quick overview of all the de Young's major galleries including a few pictures and specific pieces to look for during your visit.

Art in America to the 20th Century

This gallery, located on the second floor, is one of the largest displays at the de Young, offering an overview of American art from the colonial period to the early 20th century.

Here you'll find pieces of work from the Rockefeller Collection. You will also find works of art by Paul Revere, John Singer Sargent, and Frank Lloyd Wright.This is a photo from my last visit to this gallery.

The Art in America Gallery in the de Young Fine Arts Museum SF in Golden Gate Park

20th Century and Contemporary Art

This gallery is located on the first floor of the de Young Museum San Francisco and contains American art from early 20th-century modernism through the post-World War II decades.

You will find selected works from artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Grant Wood, and Zhan Wang.

My favorite item in this collection is shown in the picture below.

The European Church made out of guns at the de Young Museum in San Francisco

I was told this is one of the most photographed pieces in the museum. It's a European style church made out of old guns, shell casings, and shots. The detail on the church is amazing, and it's such a creative piece. Make sure you check it out closely during your visit.

Here is another room in this gallery.

The contemporary art gallery in the de Young Museum in San Francisco

Art of the Americas

This gallery is also located on the first floor of the museum. Here you will find pieces of work from Mesoamerican and Andean cultures.

The entrance to the Art of the Americas Gallery at the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

One of the most interesting pieces of work in this gallery is a group of murals from Teotihuacan (the largest city of the pre-Columbian Americas). The display of murals from this site is one of the largest and most important outside of Mexico.In addition, you will also see a late classic Maya stela and West Mexican ceramics from the Lewis K. Land collection.

Native American Art

This colorful, new display features several Native American works of art. It includes both traditional and contemporary pieces.

This gallery is located on the first floor, just behind the Art of the Americas gallery. Below you can see some of the beautiful pieces on display in this room.

The Native American Art Gallery at the de Young Museum in SF

Art of Africa

This is another one of my favorite sections of this fine arts museum. It includes a wide variety of interesting art from sub-Saharan Africa.

As with the Native American Art display, this gallery also includes both traditional and modern pieces.

Here are just a few of the masks on display in this gallery. The one in the front is one of the best examples of traditional art from this region.

The African Art Gallery in the de Young Museum in San Francisco

Art of Oceania

This collection is on display on the second floor of the museum next to the Art of Africa gallery. Here you'll find a few hundred examples of art from New Guinea. This display also includes some woodcarvings from Polynesia and Indonesia's outer islands.

Here is just one example of what you'll see in this gallery.

The Oceania Gallery on the 2nd Floor of the de Young Fine Arts Museum San Francisco.

Textiles

This area is a changing exhibition that features more than 12,000 textiles and costumes from around the world. Here you will find a large collection of Anatolian kilims (carpets) from Turkey, European tapestries, and Central Asian and North Indian silks.

This display is also on the second floor next to the Art of Africa and the Art in America to the 20th Century galleries.

Special Exhibits

The de Young also has a few dedicated areas for special exhibits. These can be found on the lower level and are usually an additional charge to your regular admission.

Find a list of the de Young's exhibits by month

de Young Tower Observation Deck (Temporarily Closed)

Do not miss the de Young Tower Observation Deck! It's free to enter and worth a visit even if you don't want to go to the museum.

It's on the ninth floor of the tower and has 360° views. From the viewing area, you can see most of Golden Gate Park, the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, and part of downtown. Here are just a few photos from my last visit.

The California Academy of Sciences from the observation tower in the de Young MuseumThis is the view of the living roof of the California Academy of Sciences which is just across the street from the de Young.
View of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge from the de Young Observation TowerThis is a view of the Pacific Ocean and the very top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
A view of downtown San Francisco from the de Young Observation Deck in Golden Gate ParkThis is a view of downtown San Francisco.

Best Times to Visit

The best times to visit the de Young Museum is during the week. You will find it's least busy first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. Most people visit during the week between 12 pm and 3 pm. If you avoid those hours, you will find more open spaces and fewer people.

The weekends and holidays are also busy. If you plan to visit on the weekends, the best time is between 9:30 am and 11 am. The museum continues to fill up with the 2 pm to 4 pm hours being some of the busiest. 

How Long Does it Take to Visit? 

The de Young Museum San Francisco has an extensive collection of fine art pieces from around the world. If you like to just stroll through, admire the pieces, and not read much about them, then you'll want to plan for about 2 hours.

If you like to stop and admire the pieces and read some of the descriptions, it will probably take you at least three hours. 

Add another 30 minutes to an hour for your visit for each special exhibit you also plan to see. 

In total, you could spend anywhere from around 2 to 4 hours at this museum.

de Young Café

You will find a café within the museum. It's open to ticketed patrons only. It offers both limited indoor and outdoor dining. 

The café cuisine is a mix of American and European classic dishes. Several ingredients are seasonal and they do their best to use local vendors as much as possible. During certain exhibits, they will also feature special dishes themed to match the exhibit. 

The menu does change at times, but here are a few examples of the type of dishes they offer:

  • Soup of the Day
  • Pastrami Rueben
  • Farmers Market Squash + Herbed Mushroom Flatbread
  • Free-Range Chicken Salad Sandwich
  • Sesame & Honey Roasted Yam

You will also find a couple of items for kids, desserts, and beverages. They also offer a couple of wines by the glass. 

Prices for each dish range from around $9 to $18 before taxes and tips.

The café is currently open from 11 am to 3 pm.

How to Get to the de Young Museum

The de Young Museum is located at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive. It's easy to get to this museum by public transportation, driving, or the Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tour.

Public Transportation: From Union Square, you can take either the 5-Fulton or the 21-Hayes bus. Both drop off just outside of Golden Gate Park. From there, it's about a 10-minute walk over to the museum.

Driving: This is one of the few times I recommend this option. The best place to park for the de Young Museum San Francisco is in the garage right next door called the Music Concourse Garage. It's just steps away from the entrance. You will also find free parking on the streets throughout Golden Gate Park. Click here to scroll down and learn more about the parking options.

Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tour: All of the Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tours offer a stop right in front of the de Young Museum. This is one of the best options since these bus tours take you to almost all of the top attractions throughout the city. You will learn more about each attraction as you ride along in your open-air bus. Learn more and get your Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tour ticket today.

Getting Between the de Young and the Legion of Honor

Public Transportation: There are a few options to get between these two San Francisco fine arts museums on public transportation. The route outlined below is the best because it involves the least amount of walking.

5-Fulton & 18-Legion of Honor (#18 Bus is Temporarily Suspended for COVID):

  • You'll first need to walk out of the park and pick up the 5-Fulton on 8th Avenue and Fulton Street.
  • Take this to the end of the line at La Playa Street and Cabrillo.
  • Transfer to the 18-Legion of Honor. The stop for the 18 is about a half block down Cabrillo from La Playa Street right near the Safeway.
  • The 18 drops you off right at the front door of the Legion of Honor.
  • On the map below, the de Young is the blue star and the Legion of Honor is the red star.
A map showing how to get from de Young to the Legion of Honor on SF public transit.

Driving: This is the easiest and fastest way to get between the two. It's only about a 10-minute drive between the two museums.

Parking Near the de Young Museum San Francisco

The de Young Museum San Francisco is in a very busy location next to the California Academy of Sciences. You will find parking a bit difficult if you arrive anytime after around 11 am. I recommend arriving for your visit as early as possible to allow for time to find parking near the museum. 

Street Parking: You might get lucky and find some free street parking near the museum. These spots fill up quickly and don't turn over very often, but you can look here if you want to try and park for free. The best streets are Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Nancy Pelosi Drive. Once you find a spot, make sure to check the restrictions for your spot. Usually parking is only allowed for a couple of hours (sometimes up to 3 or 4), but make sure to double check for the area you are parked in as they do ticket frequently. 

Parking Garage: You will find one, large parking garage. It's below ground and is used by those visiting both the de Young and the California Academy of Sciences. You can enter it on Fulton Street at 10th Avenue or on Music Concourse at MLK, Jr. Drive. This is a great place to park, but fills up really early in the day.

The cost to park in this garage varies by day. It's about $5.25 an hour on the weekdays and $6.25 an hour for weekends.

Note: This parking garage is not owned or operated by the nearby museums, so if you have problems the de Young will not be able to help. You will find signs in the garage with where to call or contact the owners with problems. 

Hotels Near the de Young Museum San Francisco

Here are a few places to stay near this museum.

Stanyon Park Hotel: 3-star hotel in the Haight-Asbury District. It's the closest hotel to the museum. Read recent reviews and check rates on Booking.com.

Geary Parkway Motel: This 2-star motel is just north of Golden Gate Park in the Inner Richmond District. Find out more and check for availability on Booking.com.

The Laurel Inn: This 3-star hotel is just a little further away, but is still pretty close. You'll find it in the Pacific Heights District. Learn more on Booking.com.

You will also find a large concentration of hotels in Union Square (about 4 miles east). Here are a few of my recommendations in this district

Another top option is Fisherman's Wharf. This is where you will find quite a few hotels as well. It's about five miles away. Here are some of my recommendations in this district.

What to See & Do Nearby

The de Young Museum San Francisco is situated inside Golden Gate Park. Just across the street, you will find one of our most popular museums, the California Academy of Sciences. Other places that are within a short walk include the Conservatory of Flowers, the SF Botanical Garden, and the Japanese Tea Garden. You will also find some fun tours and other things to do here. 

Click the links below to learn more about some of the most popular nearby options. 

ADA Accessibility

The de Young Museum San Francisco offers several accessibility options. Here are a few highlights:

  • Free Admission: They offer free admission for those with disabilities. They also offer one free guest ticket. You will want to call for tickets and ask for an Access Ticket. It will require documentation including a Medicaid card, an SSD business letter, or a disabled transit pass.
  • Deaf or Hard of Hearing: They offer free ASL interpreters for all of their programs. You must contact them at least two weeks in advance to request an interpreter for your visit. They also offer Assistive Listening Devices and Captions on displays throughout their galleries.
  • Blind or Low Vision: They offer audio tours, Braille/Tactile/Large Font guides and maps, and Large Print Labels for most exhibits. 
  • Support/Service Animals: They are allowed in the museum as long as they are well behaved. If your support or service animals is anything other than a dog, you will need to call in advance for special permission.
  • Mobility Considerations: Motorized scooters are allowed in the galleries. Wheelchairs are available at admissions on a first come, first serviced basis. You cannot reserve the wheelchairs in advance. 
  • Bathrooms: The bathrooms are also accessible. There are a few gender neutral bathrooms as well as nursing/changing rooms.

Please contact the museum directly for all special requests or questions about your visit. 

History of the de Young Museum San Francisco

The de Young Museum San Francisco originated in 1894. When it opened, they called it the Memorial Museum (located inside the Fine Arts Building). It was built for the California Midwinter International Exposition as a temporary structure to house fine arts for the expo with no plans to turn it into a permanent museum.

During the expo, this museum was into a huge success. It was free to enter and thousands enjoyed its art. This allowed the museum to continue long after the expo. 

Their first issue arose about eleven years later when it was severely damaged by the 1906 earthquake. It closed for 18 months as they worked to fix all of the damage.

As the museum grew, they planned out and built a larger structure to house more of the museum's collection. They finished this building in 1919. They added on a few other wings to the building as it grew and renamed it the M. H. De Young Memorial Museum to honor Michael de Young, who was a key contributor to building out this fantastic museum.

Over the years, part of the building was torn down due to age and the impact of the salts from the Pacific Ocean that were eating away at the structure. 

The building was once again damaged by a major earthquake in 1989. This one was the Loma Prieta earthquake that struck in October of that year. While they worked to try to come up with solutions to help sustain this structure (after coming up with a few temporary measure to keep it open), they eventually decided they needed to rebuild a new museum. 

The old building closed on December 31, 2000. The new building that you see today opened on October 15, 2005. 

The de Young Museum in San Francisco

 Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel

Copyright © 2009-2021 by Jill Loeffler, SFTourismTips.com. All rights reserved.

This website does not sell any personal information. (See privacy policy)