There are so many things to do in San Francisco — and so many ways to save if you’re smart when you’re budgeting for a full trip of San Francisco attractions and San Francisco sightseeing tours. For instance, it’s possible to get discount San Francisco Zoo tickets, a discounted PIER 93 attraction pass, and other single admission passes for less than you’d spend at the gate.

But what if you’re planning to visit multiple attractions during your stay? In that case, your best bet is to invest in one of the several San Francisco sightseeing passes.

The obvious question is which San Francisco sightseeing pass is best. The answer will depend mainly on what you want to see and do in the city, as well as how long you’ll be staying. In general, if you’ll be in the city for multiple days and plan to visit a number of major San Francisco attractions, Go San Francisco will be your best bet.

Some people will even double up the Go Card plus the San Francisco CityPASS® because the list of attractions the CityPASS includes is pretty short. There are also other types of discount passes for visitors who are more interested in San Francisco sightseeing tours than visiting one or two San Francisco attractions.

If you’re not sure which pass you should buy, take a look at the different options and their benefits below. 

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Go San Francisco

Go San Francisco: Exploratorium
Exploratorium photo is courtesy of Go San Francisco

The Go San Francisco pass is a multi-attraction pass that can potentially save you a lot of money on combined admission for the best San Francisco attractions, tours, and museums.

Typical savings range from 20-55%, and how much you can save will depend on what you plan to see and do. The All-Inclusive pass (available in 1 to 5-day increments) will get you into any of the 25+ eligible attractions, while a Build Your Own pass (valid for 30 days after activation) may be the better option if you prefer to sightsee at a leisurely pace.

The benefits of the Go San Francisco Card go beyond discounted admission, however. You can spend more time exploring the city and less time in line if you’ll be visiting a lot of San Francisco attractions because this card can get you into/onto:

  • Madame Tussauds® San Francisco
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise
  • The San Francisco Dungeon
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!® San Francisco
  • California’s Great America
  • Escape from the Rock®
  • Exploratorium
  • AT&T® Park Tour
  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise®
  • One All-Day Comfort Bike Rental by Blazing Saddles
  • San Francisco Zoo & Gardens (Priority Entry)
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA®)
  • Six Flags® Discovery Kingdom®
  • USS Pampanito
  • de Young Museum and Legion of Honor
  • The Walt Disney® Family Museum (Priority Entry)
  • K1 Speed Indoor Karting
  • Go Car® San Francisco Tour (30-minute rental)
  • Angel Island Roundtrip Ferry
  • Asian Art Museum
  • U.S.S. HORNET Museum
  • The Contemporary Jewish Museum
  • California Historical Society
  • UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens
  • The Beat Museum
  • Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Tours® San Francisco Classic Tour: 1 Day Ticket + Bonus Day (Hop on at any stop!)

Go San Francisco will also get you freebies and discounts at restaurants and shops around the city.

San Francisco CityPASS

Jellyfish in a tank at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco

The San Francisco CityPASS is a one-price pass that provides entry to a short-list of must-visit San Francisco attractions.

It expires nine days after the first use — plenty of time to hit the included tours and experiences — and can save you 49% on the price of admission. Most of the time, you’ll be able to skip the line, too, and head right to the entrance. CityPASS includes: 

  • A Blue & Gold Fleet® Bay Cruise Adventure
  • Admission to Exploratorium OR the De Young Museum of Art +Legion of Honor
  • Admission to Aquarium of the Bay®
  • Admission to the California Academy of Sciences 

You’ll also get unlimited rides for three days on the city’s historic cable cars and muni buses, which is a nice bonus, and discounts at museum gift shops, at PIER 39 San Francisco, and on bike rentals. They also have a C3 pass that allows you to choose three of nine attractions.

San Francisco Sightseeing Pass®

Aerial view of Oracle Park and the San Francisco skyline on a sunny day.

The San Francisco Sightseeing Pass is another discount attractions pass. There are two options to choose from: a 1, 2, 3, or 5-day all-inclusive pass or a build-your-own pass that lets you add 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 attraction options out of about 20 of the city’s popular most attractions and tours, including: 

  • The 7D Experience at PIER 39
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Asian Art Museum
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze
  • USS Hornet Museum
  • AT&T Park

Plus eclectic and immersive walking, biking, car, and bus tours of Golden Gate Park, the Tenderloin, North Beach, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, and other famous areas of the city.

There are also restaurant and bar discounts, and you will typically get direct entry to attractions with your pass.

PIER 39 Attraction Pass

The entrance to Pier 39 and Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco

This pass lets you bundle five popular things to do at PIER 39 San Francisco to save up to 18%.

You’ll get tickets for Aquarium of the Bay 7D Experience, Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, Skyline Sightseeing San Francisco, and Blue & Gold Fleet (one-hour bay cruise or a minute Escape from the Rock sail around Alcatraz).

Wharf Pass

Sourdough bowls full of clam chowder
Stop for a bowl of famous San Francisco clam chowder in a sourdough bowl in between Wharf Pass attractions.

Explore more of the Fisherman’s Wharf area (of which PIER 39 is a part of) which covers the northern waterfront area from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Avenue east to Pier 35 or Kearny Street. It is one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist areas.

The Wharf Pass includes some of the same attractions as PIER 39 Attraction Pass and includes Aquarium of the Bay, Madame Tussauds, 7D Experience, The San Francisco Dungeon, and Blue and Gold Fleet. 

Here’s my take on the different options. If you’re going to see and do a lot during your visit and you’re willing to venture outside the heart of the city, get the Go San Francisco pass.

If you want to hit some of the main San Francisco attractions and stay close to the city center, get the CityPASS.

If you want to try some of the more eclectic San Francisco tours and aren’t as interested in “touristy” attractions, the Sightseeing Pass offers the best value.

And if all you’re looking to do is spend the bulk of your time at the Fisherman’s Wharf area, try the PIER 39 or Wharf Pass.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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