Locals Steals and Deals: SF Discounts Offered to Bay Area Residents

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: August 1, 2023

Do you live in San Francisco or the Bay Area? If so, then check out this list of locals steals and deals which includes many of the top discounts available to you throughout SF.

It's easy to save. Simply show your ID with your SF or Bay Area address to save on a variety of activities from admissions to SF attractions to discounts off purchases at select retailers.

You will need to be proactive to save. Many of the attractions below will not ask for your ID as they work with so many visitors from out of town. However, when you buy your tickets in person, simply tell them you are local, and they will offer you the discounted price.

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

Pier 39's Local Advantage

Sealion on Pier 39

Pier 39 offers discounts to those living in SF, the Bay Area and other counties a little further away. The discounts offered change every few months and range from discounted tickets at the Aquarium of the Bay to specials on purchases at specified stores.

These deals are good for anyone in the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.

Note: This was put on hold, but they plan to start up this program again in the fall of 2023. 

Learn More: Top Things to See & Do on Pier 39

Aquarium of the Bay

Locals can also save on admission to the Aquarium of the Bay at SF's Pier 39. When purchasing your tickets, show your driver's license or another current ID with your address to receive this discount. These tickets cannot be purchased online; they must be purchased in person.

These admission rates apply to all family members.

These are the nine SF Bay Area counties included in the discount: San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara.

More: Visit their site for current discounts for locals

Learn More: What to expect during your visit to the Aquarium

Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park

Red Flowers at the SF Botanical Gardens

Admission to the Botanical Gardens is always free to residents of the city and county of San Francisco. Show your ID at the ticket counter to enter the gardens at no cost.

These gardens are amazing and worth the time to visit. I come here often as something different is always in bloom.

One of the best times to visit is when the Magnolia trees bloom between mid-January and late March. Another great time to visit is in May and June when many of the local plants are in bloom.

Learn More: What you will see during your visit

Fine Arts Museums of SF

The Fine Arts Museums of SF are comprised of the Legion of Honor and the de Young. Both offer free general admission every Saturday to residents of the nine Bay Area counties.

You can reserve in advance online, but must present a valid ID at the ticket office. The general admission ticket you will be granted covers the permanent collections, but does not include special exhibitions.

In addition, if you happen to be planning a visit with guests from out of town, the first Tuesday of every month is free for everyone

Learn More: Find out more about what you can expect from the Legion of Honor and the de Young

Do you have a Deal for SF and/or Bay Area residents that you would like to add to this list? Simply click here to contact me. Please include your deal information and a valid email address so I can contact you directly.

SF Theater Tickets

Many of the big-ticket theater performances in SF offer lottery tickets at a deep discount to fill up open seats. This is for Broadway performances at the Golden Gate Theater, the Orpheum, and the Curran.

In order to participate in the lottery, you need to show up at the ticket booth 2.5 to 3 hours before the performance. They usually draw names for tickets about an hour later.

They typically sell these last-minute lottery tickets for around $25 per ticket. They only accept cash, so be prepared when you arrive. You can usually enter the lottery for up to two tickets. It's available for everyone, but it's a great locals secret as most people on vacation don't want to stand around for a few hours waiting for the chance to get tickets to a show.

I've done this several times and have the best luck when I try for tickets during the week. At times, there have been more tickets than people waiting.

Lottery rules for each show vary. They announce the rules about two weeks before each performance. Visit the Broadway SF site to check the lottery rules for upcoming performances.

Learn More: Full SF Theater Calendar by Month

Coit Tower

The ground floor of Coit Tower, where most of the murals are located, is free for everyone to access. However, visiting the second floor and beyond requires a ticket. 

San Francisco residents receive a $3 discount from the standard admission when visiting the Observation Deck. This structure is such an icon, it's worth the trip to get unique views of the city we love. Make sure to show your current ID for discounts.

More: Visit the SF Parks and Recs page for current admission costs

Learn More: What it's like to visit Coit Tower

Japanese Tea Garden

Flowers in Bloom at the Japanese Tea Garden

Those living in SF receive free admission into the Japanese Tea Garden. Show your driver's license or other current ID with your SF address to get in free.

If you're strolling through Golden Gate Park, visiting the Japanese Tea Garden is a great way to get some peace and quiet in a unique setting. 

More: Visit their site for current discounts

Learn More: What you will see at the Japanese Tea Garden

SF Zoo

The Zoo offers SF residents discounted admission prices every day. In addition, they feature one SF Resident Free Day each month. 

You can prove your residency in the city with your current driver's license, a valid identification card or a phone, utility or other local bill (that includes your name and address - along with some form of identification).

More: Visit the SF Zoo site for details and a link to the calendar of free days

Learn More: See pictures and learn more about visiting the SF Zoo

Bay Area Discovery Museum

Take a day trip to Sausalito, just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, where you'll find the Bay Area Discovery Museum sitting on 7 acres of land, full of interactive outdoor and indoor exhibits designed especially for children's play.

Residents of the nine Bay Area counties get in free on the first Wednesday of every other month by showing proof of residency. In addition, many local libraries have Bay Area Discovery Museum Membership Cards that you can check out and use to visit on the day that you choose.

More: Check their Admissions page for the next free date

Various Attractions with the "Discover & Go" Program

This program for free and discounted tickets to a wide selection of attractions extends to California residents with a library card. In order to benefit from this service, you must log in online with your library card bar code to make your reservation. 

Cardholders should be 15 years or older and are allowed to have up to two active reservations at a time. Slots can fill up, so make your search with anticipation. You'll then be able to download and print your pass, which you can use non-transferably with a valid ID. 

The cultural destinations offered through the program are varied, including the following that are found right here in San Francisco: the Beat Museum, California Academy of Sciences, California Historical Society, Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young, Exploratorium, Haas-Lilienthal House, and Legion of Honor.

Visit your local library website to check out the Discover & Go program. 

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

Locals Steals and Deals Pin

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel

Copyright © 2009-2023 by All rights reserved.

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