Located just a couple of blocks south of downtown San Francisco’s Financial District, the California Historical Society is easy to visit during a day of shopping and exploring around Union Square and SoMa. It’s not typically included on city tours but it does participate in certain attraction passes, such as the San Francisco Go Card, saving you time and money if you plan to visit other attractions and museums, as well. It’s a small space compared to typical history museums, featuring a library of archives, artwork, and a bookstore. The collection of artifacts includes newspapers, posters, maps, manuscripts, pamphlets, books, photographs, paintings, drawings, and other items related to themes such as immigration, early exploration, politics, and geography. Rotating exhibitions have included “Boomtown” and “The Art of the West.”
Things to know before you go
- The California History Society is a must for history buffs and current (or wannabe) Californians.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as the neighborhood is large and busy during the day, so you’ll likely walk a few blocks or more.
- There is a lot of metered street parking available, but pay attention to posted and temporary signs about prohibited parking during street cleaning, construction, and certain times of day.
How to get there
The California Historical Society is located on Mission Street between 3rd and New Montgomery streets in San Francisco’s SoMa district. It’s a short walk from the BART and MUNI train stations on Powell and Montgomery streets. Several city bus lines also serve the site.
When to get there
The gallery is open in the afternoons between Wednesday and Saturday. Discussions, screenings, book talks, and other events take place regularly.
Other Nearby Museums
Museum lovers are in luck in this part of the city: Within a few blocks of the California Historical Society, you’ll also find the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora, the Children’s Creativity Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
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