The Best Way to Explore San Francisco: CityPASS or Go Card

CityPASS and Go Card San Francisco

If you are thinking of visiting San Francisco for at least a couple of days, consider purchasing either the CityPASS booklet or the Go Card San Francisco. Both can provide substantial savings while you explore the city’s best attractions. My family just returned from an action-packed 3-days exploration of San Francisco and really made great use of our time by using both the CityPASS and GO Card.

Both cards can provide an excellent value, but how do you choose which card to buy? At different price points, both offer admission to several well-known attractions. There are differences between the two passes. For instance: CityPASS is one price for a ticket booklet that is good for 9-days from date of first use. Go Card San Francisco has multiple day options at different price points and there are attractions located outside the city.

During our visit to San Francisco, our time was limited and we had to rely on public transportation so our focus was visiting family-friendly attractions within the city.

CityPASS

CityPASS - 2 Moms Travel

CityPASS is a ticket booklet with admission tickets to numerous attractions claiming to save you 49% over regular admission prices. Plus, you can often skip the long ticket lines and just head to the admission desk to enter. This perk came in handy at a couple of attractions when the ticket lines were long and the kids were cranky. We simply presented our ticket booklet at the entrance and viola, we were in!

Aquarium of the Bay - 2 Moms Travel

Use your CityPASS to visit Aquarium of the Bay!

*DO NOT rip out the tickets from your booklet yourself. That will immediately invalidate your admission. That privilege is for the person taking tickets at the attraction you are visiting.

CityPASS Prices

As of November 2016, CityPASS prices are $94 for adults (12 & older) and $69 for children. There is one price for the booklet and it’s valid for 9-days from date of first use. I definitely appreciated having the option of 9-days to visit attractions at my leisure. I didn’t feel rushed having to see everything in a day. A lot of patience is required when sight-seeing with young kids and attraction-hopping is at a much slower pace!

CityPASS admission includes:

  • 7-day world-famous Cable Car & Muni Bus Passport
  • California Academy of Science ($34.95 adults, $29.95 senior, student & youth, $24.95 child)
  • Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure ($30 adults, $24 senior & junior, $20 child)
  • Exploratorium ($29.95 adults, $24.95 senior, teacher, youth, $19.95 child) OR de Young Museum + Legion of Honor ($15 adults, $10 senior, college students $6, under 17 Free)
  • Aquarium of the Bay ($24.95 adults, $14.95 senior & child, $68 2 adults & 2 children) OR Monterey Bay Aquarium ($49.95 adults, $39.95 senior & student, $29.95 child, under 3 free)

The booklet also contains discounts for museum gift shops, Pier 39 “fun pack”, bike rentals, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and more! The savings really do add up! The one attraction I wish CityPASS contained were passes for the Hop On Hop Off buses. I find that to be a fun way to see a new city!

Use your CityPASS to visit the Exploratorium. Warning: it's easy to spend several hours here!

Use your CityPASS to visit the Exploratorium. Warning: it’s easy to spend several hours here!

It is really easy to purchase the voucher for the booklet online prior to your vacation. Vouchers couldn’t be easier to use – just bring your printed voucher to the first attraction you visit, and they’ll exchange it for your CityPASS ticket booklet. For a nominal fee, they will mail booklets to your home or even hotel!

CityPASS is available not only in San Francisco but several other cities around the US! Check out the link for more information and to purchase your CityPASS!
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Go Card San Francisco

(All Inclusive Pass, Explorer Pass, Build Your Own Pass)

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The Go Card San Francisco is a flexible, multi-attraction pass that claims to save visitors up to 55% off regular admission prices. There are several options to choose from and can be a bit complicated picking which one will suit your needs best. Before buying you will need to carefully assess your needs, time frame and most importantly price point. The Go Card San Francisco is truly customizable and includes an All Inclusive Pass, Explorer Pass and Build Your Own Pass.

With the All Inclusive Pass, visitors can choose from 1-, 2-, 3- or 5-day options to help save as much money in the shortest amount of time possible. Although there a lot of attractions included, you need to be realistic how many attractions you can actually visit within the  time frame purchased. Both the Explorer Pass and Build your Own Pass allow visitors 30-days from date of first use to see the sights.

go Card San Francisco - 2 moms travel

Using the Go Card San Francisco to ride the Hop-0n-Hop-Off bus!

In my opinion, with the All Inclusive Pass you can get the most bang for your buck IF (and I can’t stress IF enough) you can squeeze in as many attractions as possible.

Go Card San Francisco Prices (as of November 2016)

All Inclusive Pass (Choose as you go from 27 attractions)

  • All you can do for 1 day: Adult / Child (3-12) $65 / $49
  • All you can do for 2 days: Adult / Child (3-12) $90 / $62
  • All you can do for 3 days: Adult / Child (3-12) $115 / $85
  • All you can do for 5 days:  Adult / Child (3-12) $150 / $110

Attractions include:

  • 2 days of Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus San Francisco
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Muir Woods and Wine Country Tour
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
  • Madame Tussaud’s San Francisco
  • One All-Day Comfort Bike Rental by Blazing Saddles
  • The San Francisco Dungeon
  • Escape from the Rock
  • de Young Museum
  • The Contemporary Jewish Museum
  • Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise
  • GoCar San Francisco Tour(30-minute rental)
  • Exploratorium
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Full Day Northern California Wine Country Tour
  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise
  • California’s Great America
  • Legion of Honor
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! San Francisco
  • AT&T Park Tour
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • The Beat Museum
  • Asian Art Museum
  • UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens
  • Angel Island roundtrip ferry
  • U.S.S. HORNET Museum
  • California Historical Society

Whew! That’s an impressive list but it’s not realistic you can do all of that in just a few days – well unless you are a super sightsee-er! It does include sights out of the city so a car will be necessary to visit. Uber & Lyft are widely available but the cost can add up substantially!

Explorer Pass (Choose 3, 4, or 5 attractions and tours from 20 attractions. Valid for 30-days from date of first use.)

  • Visit 3 Choices: Adult / Child (3-12) $65 / $49
  • Visit 4 Choices: Adult / Child (3-12) $85 / $65
  • Visit 5 Choices: Adult / Child (3-12) $100 / $75

Attractions to choose from:

  • 2- days of Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus San Francisco
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • San Francisco Academy of Fine Art (SFMOMA)
  • Escape from the Rock
  • Madame Tussauds San Francisco
  • The San Francisco Dungeon
  • Exploratorium
  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise
  • Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise
  • One Day All Comfort Bike Rental by Blazing Saddles
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • RocketBoat
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
  • AT&T Park Tour
  • Asian Art Museum
  • de Young Museum
  • Go Car 1-Hour Tour
  • Angel Island roundtrip ferry
  • California’s Great America
  • Muni Day Pass

Build Your Own Pass (Save 20% when you buy 2 or more attractions. Choose from 32 attractions. Valid for 30-days from date of first use)

Attractions to choose from:

  • 2- days of Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus San Francisco
  • Muir Woods and Wine Country Tour
  • Full Day Northern California Wine Country Tour
  • Wharf and Waterfront Segway Tour
  • Golden Gate Park Segway Tour
  • Alcatraz Admission PLUS San Francisco Grand City Tour
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • San Francisco Academy of Fine Art (SFMOMA)
  • San Francisco Grand City Tour
  • Golden Gate Bridge Guided Bike Tour
  • Electric Bike Rental
  • Escape from the Rock
  • Madame Tussauds San Francisco
  • The San Francisco Dungeon
  • Exploratorium
  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise
  • Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise
  • One Day All Comfort Bike Rental by Blazing Saddles
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • RocketBoat
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
  • AT&T Park Tour
  • Asian Art Museum
  • de Young Museum
  • Go Car 1-Hour Tour
  • Angel Island roundtrip ferry
  • California’s Great America
  • The Contemporary Jewish Museum
  • Muni Day Pass

The Explorer Pass can save 20% once you book 2 or more attractions that you are sure you will visit.

Overall opinion – CityPASS or Go Card San Francisco

I personally found the San Francisco CityPASS to be the easiest and most concise pass to use during our long weekend in San Francisco. It included all of the major attractions we wanted to see as a family plus some bonus shopping discounts.

I had grandiose plans to use Go Card to visit several attractions not included with the CityPASS but my kids were exhausted after one or two big attractions each day. For instance, we literally spent 5 hours at the Exploratorium and we closed that attraction down without seeing all of the exhibits. It’s easy to get carried away and think you can do more than you really can in a day, especially with kids. With that said, the Go Card did allow us to use the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus which is a great way to take in the sights! Also, there is an app for your phone to use instead of carrying around a ticket booklet.

With careful planning these passes can save you a substantial amount of $$$, and with the extra money you can splurge on ice-cream at Ghirardelli’s!

The savings from CityPASS & Go Card San Francisco allowed us to splurge on ice-cream at Ghiradelli’s!

P.S. The CityPASS and Go Card San Francisco make excellent gifts for the globetrotter in your family! I found Viator.com a great place to buy not only CityPASS and Go Card San Francisco – but other great tours as well! Happy Trails!

Find and book San Francisco tours and activities on Viator.com. Book ahead to save time and money!

*2 Moms Travel received complimentary CityPASS booklets and Go Card San Francisco  All Inclusive Passes for the purpose of a review. My opinion is my own and not influenced by how much fun we had exploring the city!

 

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