10 Things to do on a Rainy Day in San Francisco
Just because rain is in the forecast doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your visit to San Francisco. Here are nine activities for rainy days — ranging from free to somewhat indulgent — that are sure to brighten things up.
1. Civic Duty
Visit San Francisco’s French Renaissance-style City Hall on free docent-led tours at 10am, noon and 2pm Monday-Friday. The building spans two city blocks and is considered one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture in the United States. Designed in 1915 by Arthur Brown, Jr. and John Bakewell, the interior features a sweeping marble staircase, and south and north light courts with rotating exhibits. Arrive five minutes before tour departure. For more information, telephone 415-554-6139.
2. Round and Round You Go
Grace Cathedral’s indoor labyrinth was created in 1994 and is the setting for peace walks every Friday from 12:30–2 p.m. as well as monthly candlelight walks to music (usually on the second Friday of every month) and Tuesday yoga sessions ($10 donation). The indoor labyrinth is open when the cathedral is open, usually from 8am-6pm, and until 7pm on Sundays. Allow about 30 minutes for your labyrinth walk, which is meant to be meditative. You’re encouraged to walk with “an open heart and an open mind.” In addition to the labyrinth, other noteworthy points of interest at the cathedral include an alterpiece by artist Keith Haring and murals by John De Rosen.
3. Rolling History
Make a sentimental journey from the Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf on board an F-line streetcar, operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway. The F-line features an array of historic streetcars including Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) cars — the equivalent of Air Force One in public transit circles — and trams from Hamburg, Milan, Portugal, Blackpool, Melbourne and Hiroshima as well. On any given day up to 20 of the historic cars are in operation. While you’re out and about be sure to stop in at the San Francisco Railway Museum, which is open daily except Mondays during the winter months.
4. Beautiful Botanicals
One of San Francisco’s most magnificent natural marvels is at its peak from mid-December through the end of March. Nearly 100 rare and historic magnolias bloom at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, where dazzling pink and white flowers fill the wintery garden with profound scents and dramatic color. View the Andean and Mesoamerican cloud forest collections from September to December, or stroll through the native redwood grove year-round. Pick up a free family-friendly adventure map with activity suggestions for children. Docent tours and a number of special events are planned throughout the blooming season.
No visit to San Francisco is complete without a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf. Stroll along the famous Fish Alley and purchase a walkaway crab cocktail, or head indoors for a steaming bowl of clam chowder cached in a Sourdough bread bowl. PIER 39 provides ample shelter from the rain and, of course, the sea lions aren’t bothered by inclement weather. You can check them out on the webcam and learn more about them at the Sea Lion Center.
6. Urban Wine Legends
Red or white? There’s no need to choose! Try locally made wine right here within the city limits of San Francisco or sample some of the best of California at wine tasting rooms located throughout the city, from Dogpatch to Treasure Island.
7. Jump for Joy
Awesome. That’s all we have to say about House of Air, an indoor trampoline park that occupies an historic former airplane hangar in the Presidio’s West Crissy Field. The main trampoline structure consists of 42 conjoined trampolines surrounded on all sides by full-sized trampoline walls. Additional areas include a freestyle trampoline modeled after skate park designs; The Colosseum, which offers 22 conjoined trampolines used for organized trampoline dodge ball; a training area, and a Bounce House for children ages three to six. Go ahead, jump for joy!
8. Sleep In
Pillow-top beds, comfy pillows, crisp linens. Why not set the alarm for a little later and tell the front desk to hold that wake-up call until 10am? Find your dream destination, from historic hotels to modern abodes.
9. Attention Shoppers
San Francisco is known for the diversity of its shops, from neighborhood nooks to well-known names such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. You can putter around Harrington Galleries in the Mission, or head to the Ferry Building which houses more than 50 unique stores and restaurants. Levi’s were invented in San Francisco and the Levi’s Store on Market Street offers an array of products that can only be found here. And wherever you go, look for the SFMade label which ensures that the product you’re purchasing was made in San Francisco.
10. Get a Scoop of Ice Cream
We know it sounds counterintuitive, but here us out. There are so many delicious options that San Francisco locals are crazy for ice cream… except when it rains. That’s right, skip lines at the Mecca of ice cream, Humphry Slocombe. They have two locations (one in the Mission and one at the Ferry Building) and they stock half of their menu with limited edition flavors, which they change out every month. There’s always something new every time you go there. www.humphryslocombe.com