5 Free Ongoing Cultural Programs in San Francisco

Roberta Ortolan
teddy bear in san fran

I have selected 5 ongoing cultural programs for free in San Francisco. Did you miss the event this time? No problem, next month it will happen again!

Read to the end because I have found a permanent exhibition about the history of one of the banks that contributed to the economic growth of California, an exhibition of plants and flowers from all over the world, an exhibition of visual arts, street festival and African culture.

Join me?

1. Conservatory of Flowers

cultural program in san fran
Font: NBC Bay Area / Conservatory of Flowers site.

If you love nature, this is the perfect place to enjoy all kinds of plants and flowers. The conservatory was opened during the XIX century in Golden Gate Park and houses more than 50 plants that are endangered and 2000 exotic and very rare species. You can see Aquatic Plants, Highland Tropics, Lowland Tropics, Potted Plants and visit the West Gallery.

But beware, the Conservatory of Flowers opens its doors completely FREE once a month, every first Tuesday of the month.

Where: 100 John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco.

Time: from 10 am to 4:30 pm.

2. Berkeley Art Museum

cultural program in san fran
Font: BAMPFA site

Please note, this is a monthly event, meaning that the doors open fully FREE every first Thursday of the month. Anyone can enter and experience it without spending a cent.

This museum is the visual arts center of the university itself. The intent is to promote cultural experiences that are around art and film. There is additional information on the website, including a Winter Program Guide 22/23.

Where: 2155 Center Street, Berkeley.

Time: from 11 am to 7 pm. More information at Berkeley Art Museum.

3. Oakland First Fridays Street Festival

cultural program in san fran
Font: Oakland Street Festival site

The purpose of the festival is to promote local culture, from food to Oakland artists, musicians, dancers, and performers. Fun is guaranteed for the entire community and visitors. So, you know, every first Friday of the month, the festival takes place over 5 blocks.

Where: Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street, Oakland.

Time: from 5 pm to 9 pm. Click here for more information.

4. Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)

cultural program in san fran
Font: moadsf.org

Every second Saturday of the month, the museum opens its doors for free to visitors who want to soak up African culture.

“MoAD celebrates Black cultures, ignites challenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora”

Where: 685 Mission St (at 3rd), San Francisco. Ground floor of the St. Regis.

Time: from 11 am to 6 pm. More information at MoAD

5. Wells Fargo Bank

To finish this article, the Wells Fargo bank presents a permanent and completely FREE exhibition about its influence on the Californian economy.

well fargos
Font: Roberta Ortolan


Gold was discovered in 1849 in California and shipping and freight across the country expanded. Starting in 1852, Henry Wells and William G. Fargo, thinking of the business opportunity, opened a shipping company, Wells Fargo & Company, to send those shipments from the East Coast to the mining camps of Northern California.

Of course, to make the demand more agile, they outsourced the service by hiring other companies that would also do the transportation and deliveries not only of gold dust, but also of documents and other important shipments.

In addition to it, Wells and Fargo, contributed to the California economy by buying gold, selling paper checks, and lending money. This is how banking started in the XIX century!

wells fargo
Font: Roberta Ortolan

Starting in 1866, Wells Fargo & Company, expanded their transportation network and became the largest carrier in the West. After 3 years, they began to use the rail network, making delivery more efficient and faster.

By XX century, Wells Fargo & Company was delivering to 6000 locations in the United States. However, since they also provided banking services, they allied with Nevada National Bank and opened a bank branch in San Francisco.

The company’s transportation services were interrupted during II World War, as the government unified the sea routes with the railroads into the American Railway Express.

In 1906, the earthquake destroyed the bank branch, however, the vaults remained intact, so they were able to continue with their business. In 1962, Wells Fargo Bank established itself as one of the largest American banks.


wells fargo
Font: Roberta Ortolan

The exhibition is fully interactive, even for children and you can visit Monday through Friday. The exhibit shows the means of transport used to deliver goods, explains everything about the gold rush, about communication through telegraphs, the implementation of the telephone. In the banking part, it shows the printed coins and monies, bank services, cash register, cash book, etc.

Since we are used to seeing an exhibit with our hands, not only with our eyes, the museum allows you to fill out a check and sign it, write a message in Morse code on a real telegraph, print your face on a $5 bill, get in one of the wagons and travel, and many other things.

I did all this without spending a cent, totally for FREE. And do you know what the best thing is? It is less than 5 minutes walking from the hostel!

Where: 420 Montgomery Street, San Francisco.

Time: from 10 am to 5 pm.

Reading more tips: Things to do in SF in December

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Food, Wine Culture and Travel Blogger / Freelance and Content Writer / Ph.D. student and Master degree in Cultural Sciences at Universidade Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD - Portugal).

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