There are hundreds of museums in California, some of them are among the top ones in the whole nation. The major cities in California with most of the top Californian museums are San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Before you plan to visit any of them, you should know which ones to target first. There are many different factors to rank the museums by. We are listing few the top museums of California by the number of their annual visitors. 

#1. San Diego Model Railroad Museum

The museum was established in 1982, and is a non-profit institution and offers group and guided tours. There are interactive exhibits and children’s activities. The museum is classified as a transportation museum. An estimated 3,000,000 people visit this museum each year.

#2. M. H. de Young Memorial Museum

The museum was established in 1895, and is a for-profit institution and offers audio guides, group and guided tours, and lectures. There are interactive exhibits, children’s activities, and a restaurant on-site.  There is also the opportunity to take a self-guided tour.  The museum is classified as an art, general and multidiscipline museum. An estimated 2,043,854 people visit this museum each year.

#3. The J. Paul Getty Museum

The museum was established in 1954 and is a non-for-profit institution that offers group and guided tours, interactive exhibits, lectures, restaurants and the opportunity for self-tours. The museum is classified as an art museum. An estimated 1,590,608 people visit this museum each year.

#4. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

The museum was established in 1895 and is a non-for-profit institution that offers an audio guide, group and guided tours, interactive exhibits, children’s activities, and a restaurant on-site.  There is also the opportunity to take a self-guided tour. The museum is classified as an art museum. An estimated 1,448,176 people visit this museum each year.

#5. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The museum was established in 1910 and is a non-profit institution that offers group and guided tours with interactive exhibits and a restaurant on-site. The museum is classified as  an art, culture/ethnic, and nature center museum. An estimated 1,172,841 people visit this museum each year.

#6. The Exploratorium

This museum was established in 1969 and is a non-profit institution that offers an audio guide, group and guided tours, interactive exhibits, children’s activities, and a restaurant on-site.  There is also the opportunity to take a self-guided tour. The museum is classified as an art and science and technology museum. An estimated 1,100,000 people visit this museum each year.

#7. Musee Mecanique

This museum was established in 1972 and is a for-profit institution that offers interactive exhibits. It is classified as a history and ‘other,’ museum. An estimated 1,000,000 people visit this museum each year.

#8. Palace of Fine Arts

This museum was established in 1915 and is a non-profit institution that offers group tours. It is classified as an art museum. An estimated 1,000,000 people visit this museum each year.

#9. California Academy of Sciences

This museum was established in 1853 and is a for-profit institution that offers group and guided tours, interactive exhibits, children’s activities, and a restaurant on-site.  There is also the opportunity to take a self-guided tour. The museum is classified as a children/youth, general/multidiscipline, natural history/anthropology, nature center, planetarium, and science and technology museum. An estimated 1,000,000 people visit this museum each year.

#10. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 

This museum was established in 1935 and is a non-profit institution that offers group and guided tours, interactive exhibits and children’s activities. The museum is classified as an art museum. An estimated 650,000 people visit this museum each year.

Photo by Kevin Dooley