Free Museums, Live Music and More

With the price of groceries, gas and housing so high, many of us are short on cash to spend on fun family activities. We’ve got you covered with loads of freebies! 

Bay Area-wide

Shakespeare in the Park – San Francisco Shakespeare Festival offers free outdoor performances of classic plays each summer in parks around the Bay Area.

Public Libraries – Libraries throughout the Bay Area regularly host arts and crafts events, storytimes, performances and more. Visit your local library’s online calendar to see the offerings.

Discover and Go – Use your local library card to get free and discounted admission to Bay Area museums and cultural institutions.

East Bay

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive – Free first Thursday of each month and always free for ages 18 and under. 

2155 Center St., Berkeley

Oakland Museum of California – “Friday Nights at OMCA” features free live music, hands-on activities and Off the Grid food trucks every Friday night from April to October. OMCA is also offering free admission every first Sunday of the month. 5-9pm.

1000 Oak St., Oakland

Richmond Art Center – Check the website for free family-friendly art activities. 

2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond

Sundays at Hagemann Ranch – This is open the last Sunday of every month except July and December for kids’ crafts and games, a petting zoo and more. 1-4 p.m. 

455 Olivina Ave., Livermore


Bay Area Discovery Museum  Free first Wednesday of each month. Reservations required.

East Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito

Bay Model Visitors Center – This center, which features a huge 3-D, working hydraulic model of San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta System, is always free.

2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito


Courthouse Square Events – Come summer, Redwood City’s Courthouse Square is the place to be, for free live music, weekly movies, and more. Check the events calendar on the website for dates and times.

2200 Broadway, Redwood City

San Mateo County History Museum – The San Mateo County History Museum is free the first Friday of the month. The “Playing in the Past” preschool activity and tour are currently being offered online. 

2200 Broadway, Redwood City

The Reading Bug – This children’s bookstore offers outdoor storytimes every Friday and Saturday at 11am. 

785 Laurel St., San Carlos

San Francisco

Asian Art Museum – Admission is free the first Sunday of the month. Reservations required. 200 Larkin St.

Cable Car Museum – Watch the massive cables pulling these historic cars and learn about their history for free. 

1201 Mason St.

Cartoon History Museum – Pay what you wish on the first Tuesday of each month. 5 and under always free.

781 Beach St.

Charity & the JAMband – Charity & the JAMband performs free concerts on select dates.

Conservatory of Flowers – Free the first Tuesday of each month. 

100 John F. Kennedy Drive

Contemporary Jewish Museum – Admission is free the first Friday of the month. 

736 Mission St.

de Young Museum – Admission is free every Saturday for Bay Area residents. There’s also free admission for everyone the first Tuesday of the month. 

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive

Legion of Honor – Admission is free every Saturday for Bay Area residents. 

100 34th Ave.

Randall Museum – This family-focused museum which includes a caboose, wild native California animals and drop-in activities is always free. 

199 Museum Way

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – Bay Area residents get in free the first Thursday of the month from 1-8 p.m. Visitors 18 and under are always free. 

151 Third St.

Stern Grove Festival – The oldest free summer performing arts festival in the country, the festival includes live music and dance performances. 2pm Sundays.

19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard

South Bay and Coast 

de Saisset Museum – Located next to Mission Santa Clara, this free museum has a collection of 10,000 objects, including Renaissance, Native American and Spanish Colonial art. 

Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara

Los Altos History Museum and History House– Learn about the history of the Los Altos area for free. 

51 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos

Museum of American Heritage – Visit a 1920s kitchen, an early 1900s store, 1940s radio repair shop and historic gardens. Museum is free with suggested donation of $5. 

351 Homer Ave., Palo Alto

NUMU – New Museum Los Gatos – Free the first Sunday of the month. Always free to Los Gatos residents, youth under 18, families up to four with current Electronic Benefit Transfer card, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe members and active-duty military personnel and their families. 106 E. Main St., Los Gatos

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles – Members of the military are free and as well as ages 17 and under. 

520 S. First St., San Jose

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum – Traces more than 100 years of surfing history in Santa Cruz through photos, surfboards and more. Always free. 

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, Lighthouse Point, 701 W. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz

Stanford’s Cantor Art Center – Offers a free twice-yearly family-focused day which features art talks, hands-on art making and gallery tours as well as virtual activities every second Sunday. All ages and ability levels are invited. Check website for details.

328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way, Palo Alto


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