End of season sales may have left our wallets running on empty, but we're not going to let a lack of cash flow stop us from having a blast. After all, they say the best things in life are free, and this Tuesday we get to experience the phrase firsthand. The city's best museums are letting us in their newest exhibits without paying a dime. Yes, this deal does happen every first Tuesday of the month, but we can’t help but feel like the shopping gods gave us this gift solely so we could save some scratch once the next wave of fall must-haves roll around. And although usually beggars can’t be choosers, this time we get to have our pick. Check out the free museum listings below to bring on a smile that will rival Mona Lisa's.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum
Yerba Buena Lane boasts the coolest of residents (hello, Beard Papa creme puffs andTropisueno margaritas!), but the Contemporary Jewish Museum takes the creative cake with its cool and cultural space. Scope out the community discourse of music, photography, and art, or partake in it by telling your story in the first-ever StoryCorps' StoryBooth, a New York-based oral-history project. And if that's not enough to convince you of its cool-kid rep, then the building will speak for itself as its modern architectural shape refers to the Hebrew phrase "L'Chaim," which translates "to life." Beyond cool!
Where: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street (between 3rd and 4th streets); 415-655-7800.
The Legion Of Honor
The Legion of Honor is one of the Bay’s most breathtaking art hubs. Not only does the museum house over 124,000 works — ranging from European sculptures to ancient art from the Mediterranean and Near East — but the collection spans over 4,000 years. So, whether you stop by for a history lesson or for the outrageous, enviable views of the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll walk away from the experience feeling cool, calm, and collected.
Where: The Legion Of Honor, 100 34th Avenue (at Clement Street); 415-750-3600.
The de Young Museum
When the de Young Museum reopened in 2005, we were thrilled beyond belief — and that sentiment hasn’t changed one bit. The first-rate facilities have some of the city’s hottest exhibits (um, can anyone say The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk?!), delicious grub, and such unique architecture that just strolling through its heavenly halls is awe-inspiring.
Where: de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive; 415-750-3600.
Whenever we arrive at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art we know we’re in for something fabulous and funky. With a collection of contemporary crafts that never fail to wow its spectators, we almost don’t feel the need to mention its rooftop garden or steamingBlue Bottle Coffee supply. We suggest you lose yourself in one of its unusual exhibits and find yourself somewhere between the American photography from the 1970s and Matisse.
Where: SFMOMA, 151 Third Street (between Mission and Howard streets); 415-357-4000.
The Cartoon Art Museum
Being the only museum to preserve and showcase cartoon art on the West Coast, the Cartoon Art Museum is truly one-of-a-kind, and boy are we proud! Although, not exactly free on "First Toonsdays" (first Tuesday of the month) like other museums, you can "pay what you wish" to see original sketches that have traveled the world and even recent works made for the feature film ParaNorman. Don't skip out or you'll miss the amazing Avengers Assemble! exhibit, which will be gone come Sunday, October 7.
Where: Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission Street (between Annie and New Montgomery streets); 415-227-8666.
The Conservatory Of Flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers is one of the most beloved (and amazing) historical landmarks in the city, heck, even the state. And we can see why! This plant palace, sitting pretty in Golden Gate Park, is known for housing the world's most tropical and exotic herbage and hosting the crème de la crème of outdoor events. We suggest you pay a visit to familiarize yourself with the ultra-lush foliage and escape the bustling concrete jungle.
Where: Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F. Kennedy Drive (between Kezar Drive and Conservatory Drive East); 415-831-2090.
San Francisco Zoo
San Francisco may be home to the sweetest shop dogs and hip human-canine friendships, but it's also home to other exotic animals of the world. Yes kiddies, we've got a zoo! If you haven't already paid your favorite childhood animal a visit, then Wednesday, October 3, is the day to see the wildlife for free! Just note that you must be an S.F. resident, so don't forget your proof or poor Leonard the Lion will miss you.
When: Wednesday, October 3
Where: San Francisco Zoo, 1 Zoo Road (between Sloat Boulevard and the Great Highway); 415-753-8141.
Yerba Buena Gardens
Strolling around Yerba Buena Gardens will guarantee an arts education sans roof overhead, but you won't feel complete without getting schooled in the Yerba Buena Center itself. The artistic hotspot focuses on contemporary pieces and pop-culture staples while promoting the "Four Big Ideas of Engagement" to get your noggin' going. With a center like this in the middle of the city, we can't help but swoon hard over its good art, and even better good times.
Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street (at 3rd Street); 415-978-2700.
Photo via The Contemporary Jewish Museum