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San Francisco CityPASS Review: Does It Really Save Money?

San Francisco CityPASS Review: Does It Really Save Money?

The San Francisco CityPASS is one of three major attraction passes in the Golden City. This comprehensive review will explain everything you need to know about the SF CityPASS and C3 Pass.

Why can you trust us when it comes to the San Francisco CityPASS?

Not only have we been to San Francisco multiple times, but we have both used the San Francisco CityPASS and C3 Pass extensively ourselves.

We also have used CityPASS in many other cities around the United States. So you can consider us experts when it comes to using this attraction based pass.

Our only goal is to help you decide if this is the attraction pass for you, as well as help save you some money when you visit.

In this guide, we will cover:

  • Why buy an attractions pass in San Francisco?
  • Types of San Francisco attraction passes you can buy
  • San Francisco CityPASS vs the competition
  • How the pass works and how to make reservations
  • Top attractions included with the pass
  • Is the San Francisco CityPASS worth it?

Let’s see if the San Francisco CityPASS is the perfect attractions pass for your visit!

*Please note this post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the free content we provide! Read more in our disclosure policy.*

Disclaimer: We received San Francisco CityPASS and C3 Pass tickets in order to share our opinion about this product but this is not a sponsored post.

Why Buy A San Francisco CityPASS?

Buying a San Francisco CityPASS will instantly give you access to the top attractions in the city including museums, landmarks and special experiences.

Personally, we have used attractions passes in cities all around the world. It is a very simple concept in that the more attractions you visit with your CityPASS, the more money you will save.

An attraction pass is great for both first time visitors and those who live in the city but have yet to experience any of the ‘touristy’ things.

Powell and Market San Francisco street car
The famous Powell and Market Street Car on a street in San Francisco

Types Of San Francisco Attraction Passes

There are two types of attractions pass you can use in San Francisco. The first is a day based pass, and the second is an attraction based pass.

Each pass has benefits and drawbacks, so let’s see which would work best for your visit:

Day Based Pass

A day based pass gives you access to a large amount of top attractions. You will then have the amount of corresponding days to visit as many attractions as you can fit into your itinerary.

For example, if you buy a 2 day San Francisco attraction pass with 75 attractions included, you have 2 days to see as many attractions as possible.

The San Francisco CityPASS and C3 Pass are not day attraction passes. If you would prefer to see as many attractions as possible during your visit to San Francisco, read our comparison for the San Francisco attractions passes.

Here are a few pro and cons for a day based pass:

Day Pass Pros: Far more attractions available

Day Pass Cons: Higher price tag for more attraction options, limited time might make it difficult to get through many attractions and you will feel obligated to rush around to get your money worth

Attractions Based Pass

The San Francisco CityPASS and C3 Pass are attraction based passes.

With these passes you will have fewer attractions, but attractions available are generally the top bucket list tourist sites. You will also be able to visit each attraction over a much longer period of time.

For example, if you purchase a 4 attraction pass, you will have up to 9 consecutive days to visit all 4 attractions.

Here are a few pros and cons for an attractions based pass:

Attractions Pass Pros: Far less overwhelming way to see the top rated attractions and perfect for first time visitors wanting to see the top sights with enough time to enjoy each place

Attractions Pass Cons – You will have to choose between select attractions so you might miss out on one or two attractions with this type of pass

Woman using her San Francisco CityPASS to get into the top attractions in the city
Kristen redeeming her San Francisco CityPASS

How Does The San Francisco CityPASS Work?

Now that you know the San Francisco CityPASS is an attraction based pass, there are two options of passes available.

  1. San Francisco CityPASS
  2. San Francisco C3 Pass

The main difference between these two CityPASS options are the amount of attractions included on the pass itself.

We like the CityPASS and C3 Pass because you have the ability to choose between the very best of San Francisco’s attractions.

A San Francisco CityPASS gives you entry into 4 attractions from a list of 6 attractions.

While the San Francisco C3 Pass gives you entry into 3 attractions from a list of 9 attractions.

The validity for either pass is 9 consecutive days starting with the day you visit your first attraction. You also have one year from the date of purchase to activate your pass.

Let’s take a closer look at the attractions on each pass.

A sun set in San Francisco near the Fishermans Wharf
A gorgeous sunset in Fishermans Wharf

San Francisco CityPASS

The San Francisco CityPASS will grant you entry to 4 attractions with two attractions that are non-negotiable.

Here are the attractions you must visit with the SF CityPASS:

  1. California Academy of Sciences
  2. Blue & Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise

And then you can choose 2 more attractions from the following list:

  1. Aquarium of the Bay
  2. Exploratorium
  3. San Francisco Zoo & Gardens
  4. The Walt Disney Family Museum

Travel Tip: The San Francisco CityPASS is perfect for first time visitors because this pass gets you to the best attractions at the most competitive price point.

Popular multi colored bridge exhibit in the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art
Popular art installation at the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art

San Francisco C3 Pass

The San Francisco C3 Pass will grant you entry to any 3 of the following 9 attractions:

  1. Aquarium of the Bay
  2. California Academy of Sciences
  3. Bay City Bike & Parkwide Bike Rental
  4. Blue & Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise
  5. Exploratorium
  6. de Young Museum + Legion of Honor
  7. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
  8. San Francisco Zoo & Garden
  9. The Walt Disney Family Museum

Travel Tip: The San Francisco C3 Pass is also good for first time visitors, but best for those who are extremely short on time.

Red sign discussing the San Franccisco CityPASS
Red sign displaying prices of the San Francisco CityPASS

How Much Does The San Francisco CityPASS And C3 Pass Cost?

Our experience with CityPASS has shown us these passes are often the most cost effective options compared to other attraction passes in a city.

However, the attractions on these passes are limited. So this is a great deal if you are interested in the attractions listed on either pass.

We would recommend you purchase your San Francisco CityPASS or C3 Pass in advance online prior to your visit. Some of the attractions on the pass may require advanced reservations which we will discuss later in the guide.

Perspective shot from underneath the Golden Gate Bridge
View from underneath the Golden Gate Bridge

Buy The San Francisco CityPASS

The San Francisco CityPASS is currently priced at $76 for adults and $56 for children (4-11).

With a small calculation, we will show you just how much you can save with the San Francisco CityPASS.

This example uses the same day box office general admission price for adults as well as processing fees for each ticket transaction on the official websites.

Here are the prices you would pay if visiting each attraction individually:

  • California Academy of Sciences – $44.50
  • Blue & Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise – $40.00
  • Aquarium of the Bay – $33.66
  • Exploratorium – $39.95
  • San Francisco Zoo & Gardens – $26.00
  • The Walt Disney Family Museum – $25.00

Taking the California Academy of Sciences ($44.50) + Blue & Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise ($40.00) + Exploratorium ($39.95) + Aquarium of the Bay ($33.66) = $158.11

  • Attraction Price = $158.11 without SF CityPASS
  • CityPASS Price = $76.00
  • Savings = $82.11

You will save over 50% on the top 4 attractions with the San Francisco CityPASS!

>> Buy an official San Francisco CityPASS here. <<


Woman posing for a photo on a bike in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
Kristen biking to the Golden Gate Bridge with her Bay City Bike

Buy The San Francisco C3 Pass

The San Francisco CityPASS is currently priced at $67 for adults and $54 for children (4-11).

We will perform the exact same calculation with the San Francisco C3 Pass.

This example uses the same day box office general admission price for adults as well as processing fees for each ticket transaction on the official websites.

Here are the prices you would pay if visiting each attraction individually:

  • Aquarium of the Bay – $33.66
  • California Academy of Sciences – $44.50
  • Bay City Bike & Parkwide Bike Rental – $32.00 / day
  • Blue & Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise – $40.00
  • Exploratorium – $39.95
  • de Young Museum + Legion of Honor – $15.00 + $15.00
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) – $25.00
  • San Francisco Zoo & Garden – $26.00
  • The Walt Disney Family Museum – $25.00

Taking the California Academy of Sciences ($44.50) + Blue & Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise ($40.00) + Exploratorium ($39.95) = $124.45

  • Attraction Price = $124.45 without SF CityPASS
  • C3 Pass Price = $67.00
  • Savings = $57.45

You can save up to 46% on the top 3 attractions with the San Francisco C3 Pass!

>> Buy an official San Francisco C3 Pass here. <<


What Attractions Are Included With The San Francisco C3 And CityPASS?

Now you know the different types of passes and how much money you can save, let’s briefly take a look at each individual attraction you can visit after buying the San Francisco C3 or CityPASS.

Sharks and fish swimming in the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco
Aquatic animals swimming in the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco

1. Aquarium Of The Bay

The Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco is a public aquarium located at Pier 39. This aquarium focuses on local aquatic animals from the San Francisco Bay as well as the Sierra Nevada area.

Address: PIER 39 The Embarcadero &, Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Aquarium of the Bay Google Maps Location.

Included on: CityPASS and C3 Pass

Albino alligator sitting on a rock at the California Academy of Sciences
Claude, the albino alligator at the California Academy of Sciences

2. California Academy Of Sciences

Located in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a research institute as well as a natural history museum. This complex is home to over 46 million specimens, a rainforest and a planetarium.

Address: 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

California Academy of Sciences Google Maps Location.

Included on: CityPASS and C3 Pass

Travel Tip: The shows at the Planetarium are free, but you must book a timed entry ticket. Reservations should be made online here. We enjoyed the Living Worlds show and it lasted about 30 minutes.

Man and woman posing for a photo after biking over the Golden Gate Bridge
Mark and Kristen biking across the Golden Gate Bridge with Bay City Bike

3. Bay City Bike And Parkwide Bike Rental

Bike to the Golden Gate Bridge then to Sausalito and return via ferry. Or just bike the city of San Francisco. No matter your choice, this option includes a full day bike rental with helmet, lock and map.

Address: 2661 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Bay City Bike Google Maps Location (multiple locations available).

Included on: C3 Pass

Man posing for a photo on the Blue Fleet Cruise of San Francisco Bay
Mark posing for a photo on the Blue and Gold Fleet Cruise

4. Blue And Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise

Includes a one hour narrated San Francisco Bay Cruise while you sail under the Golden Gate Bridge, past Angel Island and finally circle around Alcatraz.

Address: Pier 41, San Francisco, CA 94133

Blue and Gold Fleet Google Maps Location.

Included on: CityPASS and C3 Pass

Woman playing with a tornado at the Exploratorium in San Francisco California
Kristen having a blast at the Exploratorium

5. Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a museum of science, technology and arts wrapped into one experience. Be sure to leave yourself several hours to discover the many exhibits of the Exploratorium.

This was one place we could have easily enjoyed all day. We would recommend the Exploratorium for any age group so be prepared to bring out your inner kid!

Address: Pier 15 Embarcadero at, Green St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Exploratorium Google Maps Location.

Included on: CityPASS and C3 Pass

Colorful fruit bowl and additional statues at the De Young Museum

6. de Young Museum + Legion of Honor

This is a two for one deal with admission into both the de Young Museum as well as the Legion of Honor.

The de Young Museum is found in Golden Gate Park and showcases art from the 17th century through today. Next, stop at the Legion of Honor which features European art spanning the Renaissance through 19th century Impressionism.

de Young Museum Address: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Google Maps Location de Young Museum.

Legion of Honor Address: 100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

Google Maps Location Legion of Honor.

Included on: C3 Pass

Travel Tip: You have to visit both the de Young Museum and Legion of Honor in the same day to receive admission to both museums.

Woman experiencing the SFMOMA with a San Francisco CityPASS
Kristen taking in an art exhibit at the SFMOMA

7. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

The SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art. This was also the first museum on the West Coast devoted to only 20th century art.

Address: 151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103

SFMOMA Google Maps Location.

Included on: C3 Pass

Four pelicans fying high in the sky in California
Pelicans flying high in the San Francisco bay

8. San Francisco Zoo And Garden

Located directly on the Pacific Coast spanning 100 acres of land, this zoo is home to over 2,000 exotic, endangered, and rescued animals. The San Francisco Zoo is open 365 days a year.

Address: Sloat Blvd and Upper Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94132

San Francisco Zoo Google Maps Location.

Included on: CityPASS and C3 Pass

Exterior view of the Walt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum

9. The Walt Disney Family Museum

If you are looking for a unique attraction, this museum features the life and legacy of Walt Disney using interactive galleries with films, artifacts, models and music. This is one attraction the entire family will enjoy.

Address: 104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129

Walt Disney Family Museum Google Maps Location.

Included on: CityPASS and C3 Pass

Travel Tip: The Walt Disney Family Museum is only open from 10:00am – 5:30pm Thursday to Sunday so you may need to plan accordingly.

Man posing with the Island of Alcatraz on a Blue and Gold Fleet Cruise
Mark on a San Francisco Bay Cruise with Alcatraz in the background

Does The San Francisco CityPASS Include Alcatraz?

Unfortunately, the San Francisco CityPASS and C3 Pass does not include a tour of Alcatraz.

City Experiences are the official provider of Alcatraz Island Tour tickets. The best way to book Alcatraz tickets is directly with City Experiences on the official website.

But before you book a tour, be sure to read our extremely popular Alcatraz Tours Review. We have experienced both a day and night tour at Alcatraz so we will tell you everything you need to know.

How To Make A Timed Reservation With San Francisco C3 And CityPASS

For many CityPASS locations in the United States, you are required to make a timed reservation for some if not all of the attractions on the pass.

For example, the New York CityPASS requires many advanced reservations.

However, San Francisco is a unique city because none of the attractions currently require a pre-booked reservation. You will instantly receive the next entry time with either your CityPASS or C3 Pass.

If you would like to see more information about reservations you can visit the official CityPASS website or the official SF C3 website.

Be sure to always check the reservation status before your visit to ensure you do not need a reservation.

Three popular San Francisco Attraction passes
The three popular San Francisco attraction passes

What About The Other San Francisco Attraction Passes?

San Francisco attraction passes are very similar and the names can be confusing. But once you take a deeper look at each option, you will notice subtle differences.

Besides the San Francisco CityPASS, there are 2 additional San Francisco attraction passes.

  • San Francisco Sightseeing Pass
  • Go City San Francisco

Let’s take a quick look at each option:

1. San Francisco Sightseeing Pass

Sightseeing Pass has attraction passes in several of the major US cities.

This is the most popular attractions pass because it gives you the most flexibility if you want to see many attractions in the city.

Here is what you need to know about the San Francisco Sightseeing Pass:

  • Choose either an attractions or day based pass
  • Prices go up incrementally the more attractions or days you add
  • Over 20 attractions included on both passes

SF Sightseeing DAY Pass – This pass is best for visitors wanting to see all of the SF attractionsreturning visitors or families with children.

SF Sightseeing FLEX Pass – This pass is best for visitors who want to have control over how many attractions they visit.

>> Head over to the San Francisco Sightseeing Pass official website here for more information.


Two visitors using a Go Car to explore the city of San Francisco
Tourists exploring San Francisco in a yellow Go Car

2. Go City San Francisco

Go City have attractions passes in several major cities around the world.

The Go City San Francisco Pass is set up almost identically to San Francisco Sightseeing Pass. Go City has a day based pass called “All Inclusive Pass” and an attractions based pass called “Explorer Pass“.

Here’s what you need to know about Go City San Francisco:

  • Choose either an attractions or day based pass
  • Cost of Go City Pass may be cheaper or more expensive than Sightseeing Pass depending on deals
  • Prices go up incrementally the more attractions or days you add
  • Use either pass in the same way as San Francisco Sightseeing Pass

Go City SF Explorer Pass – Similar to SF Sightseeing FLEX Pass (compare prices).

Go City SF All-Inclusive Pass – Similar to SF Sightseeing DAY Pass (compare prices).

>> Head over to Go City San Francisco official website here for more information.


Why Choose San Francisco CityPASS or A C3 Pass Over The Competition?

Now you know the San Francisco attraction passes are very similar, so why would you choose to buy a CityPASS over a Sightseeing or Go City attractions pass?

Here are a few pros and cons to help sway your decision about the CityPASS:

Pros for the San Francisco C3 and CityPASS:

  • Cheapest per attraction out of the 3 SF attraction passes
  • Ability to visit attractions over 9 consecutive days

Cons for the San Francisco C3 and CityPASS:

  • Limited amount of attractions on the pass
  • Have to visit California Academy of Sciences + Blue & Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise with CityPASS
Visitors exploring the Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco
Sun setting over Fishermans Wharf

Is It Worth Buying The San Francisco CityPASS?

Yes, the San Francisco CityPASS is well worth buying if you want to save money on your visit to the Golden City and you have an idea about what attractions you want to visit.

The SF CityPASS is the cheapest option compared to the other San Francisco attraction passes with the most bang for your buck giving you access to the top attractions.

We also like the ability to use the pass over 9 consecutive days which gives you ample time to visit each attraction without rushing.

How To Buy Your San Francisco CityPASS Or C3 Pass

Buying your San Francisco CityPASS is nice and easy:

  1. Follow this link to the official website for San Francisco CityPASS
  2. Choose between the CityPASS and C3 Pass
  3. Select amount of the adult and/or child passes
  4. Hit the big red button to add the passes to your cart
  5. Enjoy your fun filled trip to San Francisco

That’s everything you need to know about the San Francisco CityPASS, we hope this review has been helpful.

Still on the fence about SF CityPASS? Remember to read our San Francisco Attractions Pass comparison next to see if either pass is a better fit for your San Francisco needs!

FAQ’s For The San Francisco CityPASS

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about the San Francisco CityPASS.

Does The San Francisco CityPASS Include The Cable Car?

No, the CityPASS and C3 Passes do not include the cable car in San Francisco. These are attraction based passes which get you free entry into the top sights in the city at a competitive price point.

What Should You Not Miss When Visiting San Francisco?

When visiting San Francisco, you should not miss the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies, an Alcatraz Tour, a San Francisco Bay Cruise, The Exploratorium and Coit Tower.

How Many Days Do You Need In San Francisco?

There are many things to do in San Francisco and we would recommend 3 days just to scratch the surface. But if you want to get to know the city better, 4 or 5 days would be better if your itinerary allows.

More California Guides

Want more California content? Head to our California Travel Guides to explore National Parks, popular road trips and things to do in major cities of the sunshine state.


We hope this San Francisco CityPASS review helps you decide if this is the attractions pass for you!

Please let us know if you have any questions about the San Francisco CityPASS in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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