Is San Francisco Pass Worth It?

San Francisco has several tourist cards that will allow you to save time and money during your visit to the different attractions of the city. Do you want to know if they are really worth it?

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

Is San Francisco Pass Worth It?

City of San Francisco | Meric Dagli

San Francisco is a city that houses museums and monuments of great historical importance such as the Golden Gate or the USS Pampanito Submarine and interesting tourist destinations such as Alcatraz Island, national parks, amusement parks, among others.

Without a doubt, there is a lot to see and do in San Francisco. You just have to plan your visit and use some tools that will allow you to save time and money. Such is the case of the city's tourist cards, with which you will get discounts and skip-the-line access to the main attractions.

When is it worth buying a San Francisco Tourist Card?

San Francisco Bay| ©DARSHAN SIMHA
San Francisco Bay| ©DARSHAN SIMHA

Buying the San Francisco tourist card is worthwhile all year round. This is because from the month of January through December, you will get the same benefits with respect to saving money and time when doing some of San Francisco's tourist activities.

With this type of e-pass you can get a number of permanent discounts at some of the city's attractions. For example, you will save money when visiting San Francisco museums, taking a boat ride around the city, joining the Go Car Tours in San Francisco, being part of a bike tour, getting on a tour bus, etc.

Also, you should know that with the tourist cards you will save some minutes and even hours at the ticket office. This is a very convenient option if you are in San Francisco during the high season. You will be able to avoid queues to access certain attractions. Just scan the QR code in the identified area and head straight to the fun.

Buy the San Francisco Pass and other passes

Is it worth buying the San Francisco Pass for a long trip?

San Francisco| ©Vitor Pamplona
San Francisco| ©Vitor Pamplona

If you want to enjoy the wide range of cultural offerings the city has available for your long trip to San Francisco, whether you are alone, with family or friends, then purchasing a tourist card is really worth it. You won't have to worry about what to see or do in the city, because these passes incorporate several activities for you to select the ones you like best.

However, you should take into consideration that not all tourist cards are suitable for long trips. This is because many of them offer only 5 attractions, which would be insufficient for a long trip.

In this sense, San Francisco Go City all-inclusive may be the right choice, since it offers discounts on more than 25 of the main attractions in the city. For example, some of them are the San Francisco Aquarium, the De Young Museum and the Exploratorium. The latter is ideal if you are in San Francisco with children.

In addition, some cards usually include discounts on the tourist bus, public transportation and the city streetcar, which is a plus for you to acquire this type of electronic passes. Thus, during your stay you will be able to move quickly and safely throughout San Francisco, in search of any of the attractions.

Book tickets to De Young Museum

Is it worth buying the tourist card for a short trip?

Streetcar in San Francisco| ©Pom
Streetcar in San Francisco| ©Pom

Yes, buying a tourist card for a short trip to San Francisco is worth it. You will enjoy direct access to the attractions, thus avoiding having to queue in front of the ticket office waiting for your turn to access. In addition, you will get important discounts not only on tickets, but also in some restaurants and stores.

Another important aspect of the tourist cards aimed at short trips turns out to be their flexibility, regarding the number of days. You will find some passes aimed at 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 days, so you can select the option that best suits your time, budget and interests.

In addition, with the tourist cards you will not have to worry about what to see and do in San Francisco in 1 day. You will be able to make the most of the short time you will be visiting the city, sightseeing at your own pace, as some cards like Go San Francisco Card, incorporate a special tour with free stops at the best tourist buses in the city. You will have the opportunity to get on and off this means of transportation as many times as you wish, to visit monuments, attractions, shopping malls, restaurants and much more.

Finally, everything will depend on the service you connect with, because each of them has different access and validity. Therefore, you should review the available tourist cards and select the one that best suits your type of visit.

Book a tour on San Francisco's best tour buses

Is it worth it if I only want to see the main attractions?

Cruise| ©S&H Photo
Cruise| ©S&H Photo

With San Francisco sightseeing cards you will have the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of cultural activities at any time of the year. However, if what you want is to access the main attractions, then these passes are also worthwhile , as some of them include the most in-demand visits in the city.

This is a completely cost-effective option, which will allow you to visit at least four out of six attractions. A good example is the CityPASS® San Francisco Tourist Card , which gives you access to:

  • California Academy of Sciences, where you'll see more than 150 years of history.
  • The Bay Cruise, to observe the imposing Golden Gate Bridge.

In addition to the two activities mentioned above, you will be able to choose two more destinations among:

  • The Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco, which exhibits the entire Walt Disney legacy.
  • Exploratorium, which is an ideal museum for you and the little ones at home.
  • San Francisco Zoo & Gardens, with more than 100 acres to roam.
  • The Aquarium of the Bay, where you will meet a variety of marine species.

Unlike other cards, the Four Top Attractions Pass does not offer a sightseeing bus tour, discounts on public transportation, streetcars or shopping. However, you will get to save a considerable percentage of money, compared to the individual price of tickets to each selected activity.

Book tickets to the California Academy of Sciences

Is it worth it if I am traveling with children?

Before the show begins| ©Cat Wendt
Before the show begins| ©Cat Wendt

San Francisco sightseeing passes incorporate several attractions aimed at children, which will save you worries about what to see and do in San Francisco in 2 days or more of your stay. Therefore, these passes are a good alternative if you are visiting the city with the little ones at home.

Tourist cards offer children the same benefits as adults, ie:

  • Discounts on tickets to certain attractions in the city.
  • Discounts on publictransportation and on the city streetcar tour.
  • Tour bus tour with free stops to explore San Francisco.
  • Fast-track access to selected attractions, without having to wait in long lines at ticket booths, which can be exhausting for children.

Of course, all the benefits described above and the number of activities available are determined by the card purchased (such as San Francisco Pass and other city passes ).

Also, when you purchase the tourist card you must specify that it is for children ages 4 to 11. This way, you will get a discount of up to €20 compared to the price for adults. In fact, if the child is under four years old, the service will be free. Certainly, this is another reason why you will not regret using these passes when visiting the city of San Francisco with children.

Is it worth it if I go to San Francisco in the summer?

Ocean Beach, San Francisco.| ©John Loo
Ocean Beach, San Francisco.| ©John Loo

Tourist cards cover many things to do in San Francisco in the summer. Therefore, the purchase of this type of passes turns out to be a suitable option if during your visit you want to discover the attractions that the city hides: museums, monuments, natural landscapes and much more.

Undoubtedly, during the summer season, you can take advantage of the warm weather of the city to perform various outdoor activities, incorporated into the tourist cards. For example, some of them are:

  • Tour the city on two wheels, through the best bike tours in San Francisco.
  • Take a cruise on the bay, to enjoy the scenery and learn some curiosities about the history of the city.
  • Visit the San Francisco Zoo,
  • Take a tour of the San Francisco Giants stadium.
  • Join the GoCar Tours, through the main streets of the city.
  • Visit the imposing USS Pampanito Submarine, built in 1943 and used during World War II.

You will be able to discover interesting tourist destinations without spending a fortune, because any of the cards you select (San Francisco CityPASS®, Go San Francisco Card, San Francisco Explorer Pass), will give you a significant savings, in terms of the actual price of each of the certain tickets to the city's attractions.

Is it worth it if I go to San Francisco in the winter?

Ice skating in San Francisco| ©Scazon
Ice skating in San Francisco| ©Scazon

If you think that tourist cards do not offer things to do in San Francisco in winter, then you are wrong. And is that, this type of passes provide a great cultural offer during the months of December to March, when the weather in the city becomes cold and rainy, with temperatures that generally range from 5ºC to 10ªC.

Therefore, during your stay of 3 days in San Francisco or more, you will have no excuses to visit some of the tourist attractions offered in the passes of the city. In this sense, it is recommended that you carry out the activities arranged in enclosed spaces. This way, you will not have problems with sudden precipitations and low temperatures.

For example, these are some of the places you can access by acquiring a tourist card and where you will be sheltered, despite the winter weather:

  • Asian Art Museum.
  • Walt Disney Family Museum.
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
  • Madame Tussauds Museum.
  • Exploratorium.
  • Aquarium of the Bay.

Likewise, if you decide to visit San Francisco in December, January, February or until mid-March, that is, during the winter period, you can select a card that includes a sightseeing bus tour with free stops. This will allow you to travel throughout the city, taking in its monuments, architecture and natural beauty. In addition, you can hop on and off as many times as you wish to access certain attractions or destinations in the city.

Is it worth it if I am going to visit the city on a weekend?

Cold Day in Chinatown, San Francisco| ©Mario Sánchez Prada
Cold Day in Chinatown, San Francisco| ©Mario Sánchez Prada

Whether you visit San Francisco for one day or more than two weeks, you will always benefit from using the tourist cards. You can get savings of about 45%, compared to what you would spend by buying tickets directly for the attractions of your interest.

There are many options available for you to discover the great attractions of the city of San Francisco in just one weekend, using a tourist card. But, ultimately, it all depends on the pass you purchase.

You can join the Escape from the Rock Cruise, which will take you on a breathtaking tour of Alcatraz Island, allowing you to learn about some of the most significant escape attempts. You can also take advantage of the tourist card during the weekend to go to the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park and have a great time. Or, hop on the city's historic streetcar or enjoy a tour on a hop-on hop-off tour bus.

In fact, if you're an Asian culture enthusiast, you can stop in San Francisco's Chinatown for a food tour of the neighborhood. You will enjoy a wide selection of exotic oriental foods, while learning about the origin of each preparation and the ingredients used. And, depending on the season, you will have the opportunity to celebrate the Spring Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, among other events.


Book a Chinatown San Francisco Tour

Is it worth buying the tourist card if I want to see the Museum of Contemporary Art or ride the tour bus?

Legion of Honor Museum| ©Thank Yo
Legion of Honor Museum| ©Thank Yo

San Francisco sightseeing cards are worth it, because they allow you to save money when visiting some of the city's attractions during your trip. However, you should take into consideration that the entrance to the different museums of the city (such as Young Museum, Exploratorium, Walt Disney Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Madame Tussauds Museum, USS Hornet Air, Sea and Space Museum, Asian Art Museum, among others), are the options that are the main focus of the tourist passes.

Likewise, there are some cards that are worth buying to explore San Francisco at your own pace, so you can go for a whole day in a tour bus with a free stop. This way, you can hop on and off the bus as many times as you wish, in search of the different monuments and attractions of the city. You can also hop on the historic streetcar and tour the main streets, seeing them from a different perspective.

As for guided tours of the city, the tourist card is only worth buying if you want to enjoy a cruise on San Francisco Bay, sail around Alcatraz, ride on two wheels over the Golden Gate Bridge or take part in a Go car tour.

On the other hand, tours and excursions from San Francisco to Napa, Yosemite or other national parks are not included in the tourist cards. Therefore, if you are aiming for this type of outdoor experience, it will not be worth the investment made by purchasing these tourist passes.

Book a tour to Napa from San Francisco