San Francisco CityPass 2016 review: Is the pass worth it for you?

san francisco cable carGenerally speaking, San Francisco deserves its reputation as being one of the most expensive cities to visit in the United States, so any method for saving money seems welcome. You have probably heard about the San Francisco CityPass, which is valid for 5 top attractions plus transportation, so we’ll break down prices of everything to see if this is a good deal for you or not.

The San Francisco CityPass is quite different from some of the other passes like this, and you can look at our New York Pass review to see just how different. Many others include admission to many dozens of attractions for quite a high price, but this one is focused so it’s easily possible to do all the attractions during even a visit of 3 days or so.

Price of the San Francisco CityPass

  • Adults: $94
  • Child 5-12: $69

This article was updated in April, 2016

All passes are valid for 9 days from when they are validated, and you have 6 months to validate the e-ticket you’ll receive in the mail after you order.

If you decide this is a good idea for you then please order the San Franscisco CityPASS here for the lowest price.

What’s included in the San Francisco CityPass

Muni & Cable Car 7-Day Passport ($35 value)

This alone is a $35 value on its own. A single cable car ride costs $6 and an all-day cable car pass costs $14, so being able to ride them for a week, along with city buses, trams, and the underground trains is worth a lot for a tourist who doesn’t want to hassle with individual tickets.

Aquarium of the Bay (Adult $21.95, Child $12.95)

This popular aquarium is in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf so you’ll be walking past it several times whether you want to go in or not. It’s a very popular attraction for families and it’s an educational experience as well. Check the Aquarium of the Bay website for more details.

OR THE (the pass allows you to choose one of these bottom two options)

Monterey Bay Aquarium (Adult $39.95, Child $24.95)

On a positive note, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the largest and best aquariums in the world, so its inclusion here can be a real money-saver for anyone planning on going in that direction. On the other hand, the lovely seaside town of Monterey is about 120 miles from San Francisco. In other words, if you were planning on including Monterey on this visit it is an easy choice, but it would be a full day trip if you are still sleeping in San Francisco.

California Academy of Sciences (Adult $29.95, Child $19.95)

Forget the boring-sounding name, this is one of the biggest natural history museums in the world, filled with colorful interactive displays about everything from dinosaurs to rain forest. It’s great for families and it’s conveniently located in Golden Gate Park so it’s easy to reach. Check the California Academy of Sciences website for more details.

Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise (Adult $29.00, 12-18 $22.00, 5-11 $20.00)

This is a popular one-hour cruise of the bay around San Francisco’s harbor and Alcatraz, under the Golden Gate Bridge. You can get the best views of the whole city from these boats, and you get full narration so you know what you are seeing. They leave from Check the Blue and Gold Bay Cruise Adventure website for more details.

de Young Museum (Ages 12+ $10.00)

This is one of the best fine-arts museums in the United States, located conveniently in Golden Gate Park. Obviously this isn’t ideal for children, but it’s fantastic for adults. Check out the de Young Museum website for more details.

OR THE (the pass allows you to choose one of these bottom two options)

Exploratorium (Adult $29.00, 13-17 $19.00)

Located at the Palace of Fine Arts, not far from Fisherman’s Wharf, this is a wonderful museum of science, art, and human perception. It’s loaded with hands-on exhibits good for all ages, including many dealing with technology that aren’t found elsewhere. It’s a great place to visit for families. Check out the Exploratorium website for more details.

Who SHOULD buy the San Francisco CityPass

This pass allows you to skip the ticket line at most included attractions, and that alone can save an hour or two per day, especially during summer.

  1. Families staying at least 3 days in San Francisco
  2. Adults who want to see at least 3 of the attractions and skip the ticket line
  3. Budget travelers who want to lock in savings so they don’t overspend

Who SHOULD NOT buy the San Francisco CityPass

  1. Anyone staying fewer than 3 days in San Francisco
  2. Anyone driving their own car in the city (not recommended though)
  3. Budget travelers who aren’t too interested in museums

Bottom line: Buy it or not?

This pass will save you a lot of money as long as you are going to at least 3 of the 6 attractions, and especially if you are going to ride the cable car or other public transportation. The attractions included are all centrally located so you’ll probably pass by them whether you want to go inside or not, so at least you don’t have to go out of your way at all.

For families these passes are perfect because you can skip most ticket lines. Standing 30 minutes to buy tickets will wear out the patience of young ones before you even get inside. They also include all of the best attractions that are ideal for children and most teens.

On the other hand, San Francisco is filled with wonderful things to see, and many people prefer to just walk around soaking it in, rather than hustling between sights. If you buy one of these passes you’ll feel obligated to see most of these things, and you might not actually be in that mood once you get to San Francisco.

You’ll save time and money with these CityPasses, but you lose flexibility and the ability to just “wing it.”

Once again, if you decide to buy the pass, you can order the San Franscisco CityPASS here at the lowest price.

Top photo courtesy of hdzimmermann on Flickr



One Response to “San Francisco CityPass 2016 review: Is the pass worth it for you?”

YoMaMa says:

As of 7/31/2013 the SF CityPass is $84.

 

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