Are you experiencing a rainy day in San Francisco? Perhaps you are planning ahead in case of inclement weather for a future trip and need some San Francisco rainy day activities. Look no further than this article.
Below, we have collected 20+ ideas that are perfect things to do in San Francisco on a rainy day. Thankfully, the City by the Bay offers a lot of choices for “bad” weather activities!
With world-class museums, some of the best belly-warming food and drink around, and a stubbornness to not let bad weather ruin a good day, San Francisco may just be THE BEST place to spend a rainy day.
We have broken down our rainy day activities in San Francisco into the following 4 categories:
Let’s shake off those rainy day blues and dive in!
Stay Active with San Francisco’s Rainy Day Indoor Physical Activities
Let’s begin with a section for those active folks who aren’t ready to give up their activities due to rain. These are all indoor, yet active activities to keep your body moving and your spirits high, despite the drizzle.
We do want to mention that, if you are brave, there is no reason a drizzle should ruin your outdoor plans in San Francisco. Don your rain jacket and go to the beach! Watching the waves crash on a blustery day is incredible.
Or head to the redwoods for a misty walk among the giants. Here is a list of the closest redwood forests to San Francisco. There are some truly special moments in Bay Area nature to experience in the rain, for those bold enough to capture them.
Having said that, sometimes you just want to be warm and DRY! If you would prefer to stay indoors, below are the active indoor activities for you! From Rock climbing to Ice skating to arcades, San Francisco has an indoor sporting activity for everyone.
Climb an indoor rock wall at Mission Cliffs
Whether you are looking to rope climb, boulder, lift weights, or even take a yoga class, Mission Cliffs has you covered.
This may be the oldest climbing gym in San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean it is tired. Their facility is constantly upgraded and improved, and their routes are changed frequently, so every visit is a new experience.
Work on your double axels at Yerba Buena
Or bowl a strike! The Yerba Buena Ice skating & Bowling Center in SOMA is a year round ice-skating venue. As the only one in the city, it is a beloved San Francisco institution.
Check out their website for class options, skate sessions, and bowling hours. You will find something for everyone, from beginner lessons for toddlers and their parents, to adults-only “tranquil” morning skate sessions, to pick-up hockey games.
Honor the rainy day disco gods at the Church of 8 wheels
The Church of 8 Wheels is a 125-year-old abandoned church, turned disco roller-skating venue, awash in the colors of the rainbow. This hidden gem simply screams San Francisco, and it’s a perfect place to forget about the rain for a while.
Whether you are returning to roller skating or trying it for the first time, it is always a blast. This roller disco on Fillmore Street (near the painted ladies!) will have you skating the night away. All you have to do is bend your knees and push away from the wall!
Practice your short game at Urban Putt
This one is for all the mini golf fans out there. Let’s face it — who doesn’t love a little noncompetitive game of putt putt among friends? 😉
Urban Putt in the Mission District is San Francisco’s first indoor golf course. Inside the Victorian-era building you will find a bar, restaurant, and 9-hole mini golf course dedicated to life in San Francisco.
While children are welcome early in the evening, this venue does become 21+ from 8pm until close. Unless they are booked for a private event, Urban Putt is open every day of the week for walk-in mini golf, making this an ideal last-minute rainy day activity in San Francisco.
Crush your table tennis competitor at Spin on a rainy day
If mini golf isn’t your thing, how about mini tennis? Head to SPIN for a unique rainy day in San Francisco filled with ping pong, friends, food, and cocktails.
You can book a table in advance, but they also accept walk-ins. Table reservations can be pricey for a smaller group, but they do offer amazing discounts on certain nights (currently Tuesdays after 9pm).
Maintain your hand-eye coordination at a San Francisco arcade bar
This last suggestion tends to be a little less active, but we have been known to break a sweat playing skee ball, so we thought it worked in this section.
There is nothing to distract you from the rain quite like a San Francisco arcade bar. Feel like a kid again when you outsmart the ghosts in Pacman or challenge your friends to a free throw contest.
The Detour in the Castro is full of vintage arcade favorites like Skee Ball, as well as loads of pinball machines and board games. The Emporium, located in the refurbished Harding Theater, adds a music venue and bigger games like air hockey and shuffleboard to the mix for an all around great time.
Experience Incredible Art, History and Science at Bay Area Museums on those rainy days
Visiting a museum is a classic rainy day activity in any city. Luckily for visitors to this city, San Francisco is full to the brim with world class institutions.
You can learn about anything from the Costa Rican rainforest to ancient Egypt. How about learning some science alongside your kids with hands-on exhibits? Here are the not-to-miss museums in San Francisco that are perfect for a rainy day.
Keep it modern at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a beloved institution. It is one of the largest modern and contemporary art museums in the United States. Between its permanent collection and rotating exhibits, there is easily enough to see here to spend a whole rainy San Francisco day.
Insider’s Tip: Children under 18 always visit for free at SFMOMA!
Be a part of the art at Exploratorium
Get hands on at the Exploratorium on Pier 15. All ages can delve into science, art, and the human experience at this interactive museum. With over 650 exhibits in both indoor and outdoor galleries, there is something fun to do no matter the weather.
If you are looking for an adults-only experience at the Exploratorium, plan to go on a Thursday night for their 18+ After Dark Thursdays!
Learn a bit of everything at the California Academy of Sciences
Rain or shine, the California Academy of Sciences is a San Francisco must for all ages. It is the only museum in the world to include a 4-story jungle, aquarium, natural history museum, and planetarium, all under one moss-covered roof.
Bonus for a rainy, and possibly chilly day — the Osher Rainforest dome runs a balmy 82-85 degrees! Learn about this fascinating and important ecosystem while staying blissfully warm.
Wander amongst the greenery at the Conservatory of Flowers
A garden may not be your first thought on a rainy day, but the Victorian greenhouse at the Conservatory of Flowers is a perfect way to experience some nature without all of the soggy reality of the outdoors. This place is chock full of photo ops and beautiful greenery.
Embrace the gloom on a rainy day at Alcatraz Island
Yes, the tour to Alcatraz includes a boat ride and outdoor element once you reach the island, but the vibes here on a rainy day are just too perfect not to mention. Pop on a raincoat and lean into the atmospheric gloom to enhance this experience.
Insider’s Tip: The boat ride over to the island has an indoor section! And to be honest, unless you are committed to doing absolutely everything possible on Alcatraz Island, the indoor museum and tour is the main draw and is entirely indoors and dry.
Celebrate the ocean at the Aquarium of the Bay
Avoid the water falling from the sky by celebrating all of the water-loving creatures at the Aquarium of the Bay. The jellyfish, otters, and sharks here will entertain and educate everyone in your group.
And don’t miss the touch pools in Touch the Bay. A hands-on moment with seas stars, cucumbers, rays, and, yes, even sharks, will be one to remember.
Get touristy at Fisherman’s Wharf
Combine a museum with a classic San Francisco tourist activity down along the Fisherman’s Wharf waterfront. There is a reason Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is so popular — it’s just full of silly fun! Take your picture with the wax celebrities and marvel at their life-like faces.
The area is also home to a free museum of antique mechanical musical instruments and arcade games called Musee Mecanique. While you do need some change to actually play the old games, the free entry price makes this a budget-friendly rainy day activity on the San Francisco waterfront.
The Fisherman’s Wharf area is chock full of interesting places to spend some rainy day time in. Yes, it is touristy, but that’s part of what makes it so fun! Embrace the kitsch and enjoy your time there.
Watch a Live Performance or Sporting Event
The art in San Francisco does not all easily hang on the wall. It is a fantastic city in which to watch a live performance. Venues across San Francisco delight visitors and locals alike with music, dance, acrobatics and more.
Run away with the circus
Let’s start with the quirky suggestion first. We suggest you run away with the circus on a rainy day. Or at least spend 90 minutes in the beautiful, breathtaking world of Dear San Francisco at Club Fugazi in North Beach.
Dear San Francisco: The Intimate Cirque Experience is a love letter to the City by the Bay. It explores the history and lore of the city through acrobatics, spoken word, music, shadow and more, performed by some of the most talented circus artists in the world.
Keep in mind this is not your typical kid-centered circus. While the show is appropriate for children as young as 5, this sophisticated journey is designed for adults, perfect for a date or rainy night out with friends.
Support the theater and dance community on a rainy day
San Francisco of course also excels in its more traditional theater and dance performance offerings. Theaters like The Golden Gate Theatre and the San Francisco Playhouse offer rotating runs of everyone’s favorite plays and musicals. And don’t forget to check if a National tour is in town at the Orpheum!
The War Memorial Opera House is home to the San Francisco Ballet, which performs seasonal ballets throughout the year. Zellerbach Hall at the University of CA Berkely hosts legendary dance companies such as Alvin Ailey, Mark Morris, and the Joffrey Ballet.
San Francisco Theater is a great resource to discover your live performance options throughout the city.
Listen to live music at a local venue
Countless concert venues host musicians, from big names to local legends, in San Francisco. The Chase Center and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium welcome all of the highly-anticipated larger tours, while venues like Bottom of the Hill or Cafe du Nord are great places to discover up and coming artists.
The San Francisco Symphony offers a calendar filled with orchestral music, from the traditional to the modern movie soundtrack. They have fantastic holiday offerings too! Check out the other wonderful things to do in San Francisco during the Holidays.
Cheer on the Golden State Warriors at the Chase Center
If you are experiencing a rainy day in San Francisco, chances are good it is Basketball season. Why not spend an evening at the Chase Center cheering on the local Golden State Warriors? Throw on your blue and gold and absorb the positive energy of the crowd.
Keep Cozy with Classic Rainy Day Activities in San Francisco
Finally, we have made it to the section that truly embraces San Francisco rainy days. These cozy activities will keep your body warm, inside and out. Head to a coffee shop with big windows and people watch, or tour a bakery to learn the secrets of sourdough. Here are our picks for a perfect, comforting rainy day in San Francisco.
Be transported by a great movie
Buy the biggest popcorn available and settle in for a new or old favorite film at one of San Francisco’s movie theaters. The Balboa in Outer Richmond or the Alamo Drafthouse Theater are great choices. If you are looking for something truly one of a kind, try The Roxie, San Francisco’s nonprofit cinema dedicated to indie films.
Warm your soul at a coffee shop
Here on the West Coast, we know our coffee. You can’t really go wrong with our local coffee shops here in San Francisco. And you shouldn’t stick to just one! Every neighborhood has wonderful coffee and tea shops to discover.
On a San Francisco rainy day, we recommend finding an extra cozy establishment with good window seating, and watching the world go by outside while you slowly sip and savor a warm beverage. Or take your beverage to go and browse a local bookstore.
Browse a San Francisco bookstore
There is something just so cozy about bookstores. Slowly browse the shelves for hours, or find a comfy, tucked-away corner to read the rain away.
Green Apple Books consistently wins the award for San Francisco’s favorite bookstore, with locations in the Richmond, the Sunset, and the Fillmore. Another beloved bookstore in San Francisco to peruse on a rainy day is City Lights in North Beach.
Warm your belly with a bowl of ramen
What fills hearts and bellies with warmth on a rainy day quite like a bowl of ramen? And San Francisco knows ramen. Head to Japantown, San Francisco to find the best ramen around, at establishments like Marufuku Ramen, Hinodeya Ramen Bar, and more.
Learn the secrets of sourdough at Boudin Bakery
Another classic rainy day food has got to be a big bowl of chowder. In our minds, the only thing better is when you can eat it out of a freshly baked sourdough bowl. Thanks to Boudin Bakery — you can!
At Boudin Bakery’s Fisherman’s Wharf location, you can also learn the magic behind their famous sourdough. Take their sourdough tour, watch them sculpting the loaves through a 30-foot-long observation window of the kitchen, and ask the bakers all of your burning sourdough questions.
Shop in Union Square and the Ferry Building
How about some San Francisco rainy day retail therapy? San Francisco has great shopping options. You can find all of the big names you know and love like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Macy’s and more, conveniently concentrated in Union Square.
For something a little more quintessentially San Francisco, head to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. Stay dry while you enjoy browsing local, independently-owned shops and restaurants. Time your visit right for the farmer’s market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at midday.
If you do visit the Ferry Building on a rainy day, don’t miss a stop into Dandelion Chocolate! Their decadent hot chocolate flavors are the perfect rainy day medicine.
Enjoy your rainy day in San Francisco!
And there you have it! We hope that these rainy day ideas will show you there is no such thing as a bad day in San Francisco. With such a vibrant city to explore, you could spend many dreary days here without running out of awesome rainy day activities.
Here at Extranomical Tours, we don’t think anyone should let a rainy day hold them back from seeing the best of San Francisco. That’s why our San Francisco Tours run rain or shine. Let our local guides show you around!
If none of these activities are hitting the spot, and the weather is making you really just want to get away from the city, consider a day tour out of the Bay Area. Check the weather close by and head to wine country, Monterey, or even a Yosemite tour from San Francisco!
Rainy Day in San Francisco FAQs
Is there a rainy season in San Francisco?
The rainy season in San Francisco is from November to March, with the wettest period coinciding with the winter months from December to February.
How many rainy days does San Francisco have in a year?
San Francisco averages about 68 rainy days a year. Even during the wettest months from December to February, the city usually experiences rain on just ⅓ of the days each month. Having said that, predicting the weather from year to year is getting harder. A couple of years of drought recently ended with an unprecedented and unexpectedly wet 2023 winter.
So while you may not be able to predict whether or not you will see rain on your visit, with the help of this article and a positive outlook, you CAN guarantee a great day in San Francisco no matter the weather.
What to wear for a rainy day in San Francisco?
The answer to almost any San Francisco clothing related question is “layer.” The same is true for the rainy season. Make sure your outfit easily transitions from sun to drizzle to chilly ocean breeze.
If you want to look like a local, don’t bring or use an umbrella. Either wear a rain jacket, or embrace getting a little damp. Having said that, if getting wet will ruin your day, use an umbrella! Sacrificing your happiness to not look like a tourist isn’t worth it.
Lastly, if you expect rain and plan to walk outside a good amount, wear a comfy pair of waterproof shoes. Nothing ruins a day quicker than wet feet.
Can you tour Alcatraz in the rain?
You absolutely can and should visit Alcatraz in the rain! Most of the tour on the island is inside the prison museum, and the boat ride has an inside section. We think that the spooky vibes of the island are only amplified by a dreary day. Just make sure you have the right rainy day clothing with you!
What to do on a rainy day in San Francisco with kids?
The article above includes many ideas that are great for kids and families. Some of our favorites are the California Academy of Sciences, the Aquarium of the Bay, the offerings along Fisherman’s Wharf like Madame Tussaud’s and Musee Mecanique, and most of the ideas in the active section.