What To Do On A Rainy Day In San Francisco

Photo of Adriana Jones
9 February 2017

San Franciscans tend to either thrive in the rain or complain extensively about it. Whether you decide to get outside and explore or stay inside and watch a movie is up to you, but in a city of hidden wonders, it’s hard to go wrong. We list the best ways to enjoy it here when it rains.

Go shopping

Most San Franciscans will hole up with Netflix and hot chocolate on a rainy day, so if you have some shopping you want to get done, you will pretty much have the area to yourself. Union Square and Westfield Centre tend to be the most popular shopping areas, but there are plenty of other spots to get your shopping fix. The Ferry Building is another wonderful place to spend a rainy afternoon, as the enclosed building offers shelter from the rain as well as a variety of local shops selling wares from glass candle holders to vegan donuts.

A rainy night in Union Square | © Pargon

Get some coffee

Cafe, Patisserie, American
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Philz coffee
Philz coffee | © kennejima
There’s no better time for a hot, warming cup of joe than on a rainy, drizzly day. If you are new to the coffee scene in San Francisco, Philz has to be the first place you stop in. If you have been to seemingly every coffee shop in the area and want to try something different, go to b. Patisserie for Four Barrel coffee and wicked baked goods.

Philz, various locations

Go for a hike

Natural Feature
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Alamere Falls
Alamere Falls | © Dr._Colleen_Morgan
San Francisco has some of the best hikes around, including ones that actually improve in worse weather. Located less than an hour outside of San Francisco, Alamere Falls is one of the best rainy day hikes. It will be cold and muddy, so bring layers and good hiking shoes, but it is totally worth it; during the rain, the falls are stunning and flow with a far higher velocity.

Go to a museum

The Aquarium of the Bay is located right on the water, and while it is not a huge building, it has some beautiful exhibits, including tunnels that go through their Under the Bay habitat. The Exploratorium will bring out your inner kid, and the Legion of Honor will bring out your knowledgeable art critic.

The Legion of Honor | © HarshLight

Get a workout in

It can be hard to get motivated to exercise in the rain, so do something a little different from your normal routine. Planet Granite, a climbing gym in the Presidio, is a great way to get exercise in while trying something new and different. Right next door is the House of Air, an indoor trampoline park where you can really shake up your routine.

The exterior of the House of Air | © House of Air

Watch a movie

Theater, Movie Theater
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Let’s be real, when it rains, there’s nothing better to do than watch a movie. San Francisco has plenty of amazing movie theaters where it’s easy to find any kind of film, from hipster indie movies to big name blockbusters. Sundance Kabuki is one of the best theaters to catch a lazy rainy Sunday afternoon film; you can reserve your comfy lounge seat in the theater and enjoy the rain on the glass roof in the lobby.

Get creative

There’s nothing better than beginning a new project on a rainy day, so why not try taking the creative route? Beyond Canvas offers everything from painting with wine (both as a drink and as a paint) to Shibori dyeing classes, which you can sign up for online. If you are looking for something edible, the San Francisco Cooking School has many classes that will truly immerse you in cooking and give you a better understanding for the kitchen.

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