Rainy day forecasts don’t have to ruin a visit to the Golden Gate City, which, for the most part, sees ample amounts of rain throughout the entire year. Instead of complaining extensively about the looming clouds, why not thrive like local San Franciscans, who choose instead to brighten things up by having a grand old time despite the endless downpour?
Whether it’s a trip outside to get wet and wild or an afternoon inside cozying up to an old movie, the city is a gem of fantastic adventures to be had. Here are the ten best places to go on a rainy day in San Francisco.
First, find a place to stay in San Francisco
Spend A Rainy Day In These 10 San Francisco Places
1. Beyond Canvas
There’s nothing like beginning a brand new creative project to turn around any overcast day, so why not test out those artistic skills at spots like Beyond Canvas, which offers painting classes and creative workshops that are fun, inspirational, and educational no matter what your experience may be. Be sure to try out painting with wine—yes, wine—or more diverse options such as stenciling and Shibori dyeing classes.
For the foodies out there, there’s also an edible alternative with the nearby San Francisco Cooking School that has an array of culinary and pastry arts-driven classes that’ll truly immerse your cooking and kitchen skills—not to mention your understanding and knowledge of international cuisine.
Beyond Canvas shared with us that what their customers love is that they "provide a twist to 'paint and wine' classes by theming workshops so participants can learn about art history or new painting techniques to incorporate into their own paintings instead of copying a painting step by step."
2. The Presidio
Sure, it’s hard to be motivated to execise when it’s drizzling outside, but for the sake of your happiness and your health, don’t let a few droplets of H20 stop you from getting in that workout.
Do something a little different from your normal routine by heading over to the Presidio, where you can test out your indoor rock climbing skills at Planet Granite, or jump for joy at House of Air, an indoor trampoline park that occupies a historic former airplane hangar in the Presidio’s West Crissy Field that allows you to truly shake up that fitness routine. Bounce around on over forty trampolines and be uber awesome!
3. San Francisco Botanical Garden
Marvel at one of San Francisco’s most magnificent natural wonders even during the rainy season by heading out to the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, where you’ll find almost a hundred rare and historic magnolias blooming along with a dazzling display of flowers that fill the garden up with fresh scents and bursts of color.
Visitors can stroll through the native redwood grove or see the Andean and Mesoamerican cloud forest collections from September to December. There are also stellar activities to engage the kids in if you pick up a free family-friendly adventure map upon arrival. Also expect to find numerous tours and special events happening all throughout the blooming season.
4. Union Square & Westfield Mall
The city is well known for its diversity of shopping options that range from little known about neighborhood nooks to big brand names such as Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, or Neiman Marcus. Any rainy day is a perfect excuse to stay indoors for an all-out shopping spree, and since most San Franciscans hole up at home with a book and some hot cocoa on wet days, you’re likely to have hotspots such as the Harrington Galleries in the Mission District, the new Levi’s Store on Market Street, or other popular areas like Union Square and Westfield Centre all to yourself.
Try also to head over to Ferry Building. which houses more than fifty unique stores and restaurants selling everything from glass candle holders to vegan donuts.
5. California Academy of Sciences
Stare in awe at eclectic sights such as enclosed rainforests, an aquarium with a famous albino alligator, and an on-site ‘living roof.’ Whatever kind of fun you’re looking for, the Academy of Sciences is a great place to have fun at while staying indoors. What’s more is that there’s the De Young Museum nearby, which houses tons of diverse artwork, as well as a Japanese Tea Garden that you can stop at for a dry cup of tea underneath a spectacular covered seating area.
6. Grace Cathedral
Created in 1994 as a place for weekly peace walks and monthly candlelight walks to music, the tranquil and poignant Grace Cathedral is a great place to stop at on any gloomy day. Channel your spiritual side by meditating or saying a quick prayer before walking around the indoor labyrinth with “an open heart and an open mind.” In addition to the labyrinth, there are other interesting finds including murals by John De Rosen and an altarpiece by artist Keith Haring.
7. San Francisco City Hall
Spend a day full of showers checking out SF’s French Renaissance-style City Hall by embarking on one of the free docent-led tours held weekdays at 10am, noon and 2pm. The whole building spans two city blocks and has been seen as one of the best examples of Beaux Arts architecture in the U.S., as it was designed in 1915 by Arthur Brown, Jr. and John Bakewell. Glide down a sweeping marble staircase and be sure to check out the north and south light courts, which both feature rotating exhibits.
8. Fisherman’s Wharf
A piping hot bowl of freshly whipped up soup is the best way to cure those rainy-day blues—and what could be better than a fresh bowl of clam chowder in a bread bowl at none other than the Fisherman’s Wharf? Stop by for lunch and then go on to check out the vast array of surrounding attractions on Pier 39 or Pier 45. Mhm.
Keep those hands and minds busy by having an indoor adventure at the Exploratorium, a unique sort of ‘museum’ that explores science, art and human perception through a vast collection of online experiences that will fuel your inner curiosity.
With numerous hands on activities to take part in, the family-friendly public learning laboratory is truly a spot to hang around with the kids at for hours on end. Live, learn, and immerse yourself in inquiry-based experiences that’ll transform the way you think and feel. Make sure to check out the Tactile Dome for an interactive excursion through darkness!
10. Sundance Kabuki
Face it… When it rains, there’s nothing better than curling up with a nice movie to whisk you off away to yesteryear, Neverland, or whenever and wherever your heart and soul desires. Lucky for San Franciscans, there are a plethora of amazing movie theaters all around town showing everything from age-old classics and hipster indie movies to big name blockbusters and noteworthy Oscar winners. It’s easy to discover any sort of film and the Sundance Kabuki is one of the best theaters to catch any lazy rainy afternoon film in.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.