After-Dark Museum Culture in San Francisco

Ashley Overbeek

San Francisco is famous for its vibrant science and culture museums, but this popularity often comes with swarms of tourists and sky-high admission prices. However, there’s another environment to enjoy these museums — after dark. Almost all major San Francisco museums have added after-hours, adults-only events on select nights for a reduced entry fee, adding live music, special movie screenings, and alcohol to their usual exhibits.

California Academy of Science

1. California Academy of Sciences NightLife


Every Thursday from 6-10pm, California Academy of Sciences opens its doors for NightLife, a museum party with a different theme each week. With two house DJs, a bar, and a 20-something crowd dressed up for a nightclub, this museum event is definitely the most rowdy. Be sure to bring an ID because a valid 21+ ID is required for entry. Almost all of the day exhibits are open at night, including the rainforest room, a mock-ecosystem filled with reptiles and butterflies for attendees to walk through. Make sure to head there first—this exhibit closes at 8pm. Exploratorium After Dark | Courtesy Flavorwire

2. Exploratorium After Dark


Exploratorium After Dark

Experience the Exploratorium After Dark for adults 18 and over on the first Thursday of each month. Each monthly event showcases a different theme with opportunities for attendees to have a whirl at hundreds of hands-on exhibits. The Exploratorium is located on the waterfront Embarcadero, with the museum itself modern, open, and spacious. Walking to the back past the exhibits, attendees will find trendy bar/restaurant, SeaGlass. Enjoy fresh Mahi Mahi tacos and wash them down with an expansive selection of reasonably priced drinks. Be sure to check out the Landscape Gallery with a fog machine, cloud chamber, and rift machine.
The Exploratorium, Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA, +(415) 528-4444

Outside of the de Young Museum at night | © Flickr/Emily HoyerOutside of the de Young Museum at night | © Flickr/Emily Hoyer

3. Friday Nights at the de Young Museum

Building, Museum, Park

San Francisco Golden Gate Park
© Frank Minjarez / Alamy Stock Photo
On top of all of the special nighttime activities like live music, lives performances, author readings, and kite-making at Friday Nights at the de Young, attendees also can experience the entire museum for free. This includes the museum’s famous Observation Tower, boasting an unobstructed 360-degree view of San Francisco and the bay. With free entry, attendees can splurge on the cash bar and pre-fixe restaurant menu inside, while enjoying music and themed interactive exhibits and hands-on craft making.

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