A free-for-all in pricey San Francisco

The Baltimore Sun

The magical city of San Francisco is full of freebies, especially if you know where and when to go. Many attractions are free on certain days, and others on every day. Take advantage of some of the following, and perhaps you will save enough to shop in the grand stores near Union Square.

Always-free indoor attractions: San Francisco Cable Car Barn and Museum, 415-474-1887, cablecarmuseum.org; San Francisco Fire Department Museum, 415-563-4630, sffiremuseum.org; San Francisco Railway Museum, 415-974-1948, streetcar.org; the Musee Mecanique (Mechanical Museum) with some great old coin-operated machines, 415-346-2000, museemecanique.org; Wells Fargo History Museum, 415-396-2619, www.wells fargohistory.com; Octagon House: a Museum of Decorative Arts, 415-441-7512; CCA Wattis Institute for Cultural Arts, 415-551-9210, wattis .org; Chinese Culture Center, 415-986-1822, c-c-c.org; Museum of the African Diaspora, 415-358-7200, moadsf.org; San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, 415-561-7100, maritime.org; San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, 415-775-1111, sfhistory.org.

Always-free outdoor attractions: the Golden Gate Bridge (for those who want to walk on and under it), 415-921-5858, goldengate.org; Golden Gate Park, 415-831-2700, parks.sfgov .org; Fort Point National Historic Site, 415-556-1693, nps.gov/fopo; the Presidio, 415-561-5418, presidio.gov.

Free the first Tuesday of every month: the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 415-357-4000, sfmoma.org; the Asian Art Museum, 415-581-3500, asianart.org; the Cartoon Art Museum, 415-227-8666, cartoonart.org; the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, 415-227-4888, mocfa.org; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 415-978-2787, ybca.org.

Free the first Wednesday of the month: the San Francisco Zoo, 415-753-7080, www.sfzoo.org; the Exploratorium, 415-561-0360, exploratorium.edu; the California Academy of Sciences, 415-321-8000, calaca demy.org.

Free the first Thursday of the month: the San Francisco Museum of Craft & Design (no charge 5 p.m.-7 p.m.), 415-773-0303, sfmcd.org; the Chinese Historical Society of America, 415-391-1188, chsa.org. Free the second Saturday of every month: the Bay Area Discovery Museum in nearby Sausalito (no charge for families, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.), 415-339-3900, baykidsmuseum.org.

Free the third Monday of the month: the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 415-344-8800, thecjm.org.

For even more suggestions, go to onlyinsan francisco.com. The Web site also has information on hotels, events and transportation.

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