Why Buy a Go San Francisco Card Instead of a San Francisco CityPass?

The Go San Francisco Card and the San Francisco CityPASS arethe two big multi-attraction passes in the San Francisco market. Both of them are quite popular with tourists, and both offer discounted admission to top attractions. If we dig a little deeper, however, factors like greater availability of attractions, more flexibility in attraction visits, and ease of use, the Go San Francisco Card seems to be the better product.

Let’s start with a point-by-point comparison and then shift to talking about how much you really save.

Included Attractions

Go San Francisco Card

Although there are too many to list them all here, these are a few of the top attractions available with the Go San Francisco Card:

San Francisco CityPass

  • Muni 7-Day Passport
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Bay Cruise
  • Aquarium of the Bay OR Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Exploratorium OR de Young Museum

The Go San Francisco Card includes the same or comparable attractions as the San Francisco CityPass, without any exclusionary choices. This is really important if you have kids who love science and art, and may want to see both the Exploratorium and the de Young.  Plus, as you can see, one of their attraction choices isn’t even an attraction – it’s a transit pass.

How You Save with a Pass

The Go San Francisco Card can save you up to 55% on combined admission prices, and their website offers multiple examples of real customer itineraries and how much they saved. As you can see on their site, there are multiple attraction combinations that can save you way more than you paid for the pass.

One of the best things about this product is the flexibility you have in choosing what you want to see, when you want to see it.  There are also so many different attraction combinations that will maximize your savings. According to real travelers, a family of four can save over $400!

San Francisco CityPass advertises that it can save you up to 44% on combined admission prices.  With only five attractions choices of seven possible options, they offer no real customer saving examples on their sites, just generic reviews of the product. Additionally, if you don’t choose the “right” attractions, your savings could be pretty insignificant.

The biggest downside to this product is how limited your choices are when it comes to what attractions you want to see. You only have a few possible itinerary combinations, and you’re forced to choose between attractions you may be interested in. The most you can save with a family of four is $295.60. While this is still substantial, it doesn’t match up with the Go San Francisco Card savings. 

How Do I Use Them?

These products are alike in that they serve as your admission to each of the included attractions, but the similarities end there.

The San Francisco CityPassis a booklet of paper tickets that you can order online or buy in person. Attractions tear off the paper ticket when you visit, and you hold onto the booklet for future admission to the other attractions. After you’ve used all of your tickets, you dispose of the booklet.

The Go San Francisco Cardhas a wider variety of delivery and usage options. If you choose a physical card (the size and shape of a credit card), it can either be shipped or picked up in person in San Francisco. This card is more durable and can even be kept as a souvenir after your trip!

Alternatively, you could choose instant delivery. This means that a digital pass will be delivered to your e-mail on the spot: the exact same pass, the exact same benefits, but with the ease of using your smartphone for admission. Most Go San Francisco Card customers prefer the digital option because of its speed and convenience.

What’s the Real Difference?

The big difference here has to do with philosophies of travel. If you’re the “do it all, see it all” type of traveler, then the Go San Francisco Card is the best choice. You’ll have access to a greater variety of attractions, more freedom in choosing which attractions you want to see, and no pressure of either/or choices. You can also see as much as you can fit into your schedule – no being restricted to just four attractions!

If you only want to see a few specific attractions, then the San Francisco CityPass may be a good option. That said, you have fewer attraction choices that don’t include many popular tours and cruises, or most of the city’s top museums. Further, you aren’t able to see both the Exploratorium and the de Young Museum, which is an unfortunate limitation for families with kids.  Finally, one of the available attractions (the Monterey Bay Aquarium) requires a 2+ hour drive from downtown San Francisco – inconvenient for anyone on a tight schedule or without access to a car. At the end of the day, this product just doesn’t offer the same flexibility, variety, and convenience that the Go San Francisco Card does.

Extra Details

The Go San Francisco Cardfeatures a number of smaller attractions that really showcase San Francisco’s artistic and culture heritage, including the Beat Museum, the Asian Art Museum, the Cartoon Art Museum, and the California Historical Society.

Both products come with included coupons for savings on dining, shopping, and/or other attractions.  Both products also come with area maps and basic facts like directions and contact info.

The Go San Francisco Pass comes with a free, full-color guidebook. The guidebook features important information about each neighborhood, how-to info on the local mass transit systems (BART and Muni), details about free attractions and points of historical significance, and more.

The Go San Francisco Card also includes a wider variety of cruises and a great selection of tours – including a wine country tour! – that really showcase San Francisco’s true cultural heritage. After all, it wouldn’t be a trip to the Bay Area with a cruise past Alcatraz or a bit of wine tasting.

Last Thoughts

Trying to decide between a Go San Francisco Pass and San Francisco CityPass? Figure out what you really want from a vacation, and go from there. Do you want freedom of choice, flexibility, and a wealth of attraction options? Do you want the opportunity to maximize your savings while following your own itinerary, not some prescribed set of attractions? Then the Go San Francisco Card is right for you!