Seven Things to do on a Rainy Day San Francisco

When it Rains, There's Still Plenty to Do

Rainy Day in San Francisco
©Betsy Malloy Photography

If San Francisco is so drippy that its hills are starting to look like waterfalls and your vacation plans are sinking faster than the Titanic, here's the first thing to do: Run outside and sing like the Eurythmics: 'Here Comes the Rain Again" - or if you're looking for love, substitute a hope-filled version of "It's Raining Men."

After that, check the local weather forecast to see if a change of location might help. When it's raining in San Francisco, it may be clear in Monterey and Carmel, or Napa.

If the rain of terror won't let up, you could complain to the mayor, but a more practical reaction is to find something to do indoors. You can find a museum for almost any interest, and they're all in the San Francisco museum guide. Museums always get busier on rainy days, but you can avoid that long line at the ticket counter by ordering your tickets online before you go.

You could also browse the list of indoor day trips in the San Francisco area. If it's raining so hard that you worry you'll get washed away, head to the library to look up how to build an ark.

If you packed your fancypants Wellies, now is the time to put them on. With just a bit of rain gear, you have more options. If you don't have an umbrella, you won't have to walk far to find one. Enterprising umbrella-sellers pop up everywhere just as the first raindrops hit the pavement.

Now that you're properly attired try these ways to defeat the damp on a rainy day in San Francisco.

  • Go on a Pub Crawl:  Visit one or two of mSan Francisco's microbreweries. Use a designated driver, take public transportation, or call a taxi or ridesharing service.
  • Have an Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe:  The first place in America to serve the warm, mixture of Irish whiskey and coffee is still going strong, and all that hot coffee and alcohol are pitch-perfect for a rainy day.
  • Let Someone Else Do the Driving: You might need to plan ahead — just a little — but you can stay dry and see the city at the same time in a classic VW van with Vantigo, my favorite San Francisco tour company. They can take you on wine country tours and brewery tours, too.
  • Play Games: Musee Mecanique at Fisherman's Wharf is packed full of antique arcade games, some of them more than a century old. It appeals to all ages, including the most video-game-addicted kids. Change machines are plentiful, and a few dollars can keep everyone busy for quite a while.
  • Go on an Indoor Tour: San Francisco City Guides offers some fun guided tours that stay inside. Among their indoor tours take you behind the scenes at the Palace Hotel, to see the upstairs murals at Coit Tower, or around the San Francisco Fire Department Museum.
  • Browse for Books:  The concept may seem a little old-fashioned if you're doing all your reading on a mobile device these days, but City Lights Bookstore in North Beach is a real book lover's bookstore. Stop next door at Vesuvio Cafe, a remainder of the Beat era.
  • Relax: Try an authentic Japanese bathhouse experience or a massage at Kabuki Springs or enjoy a Japanese meal and bath at Onsen.
  • Take Some Photos: It's not as crazy as it sounds. Rainy days can offer the photographer some interesting shots, like the one here of the Golden Gate Bridge. Try a black-and-white photo of the skyline from the end of Pier 7. Focus on details. Look for reflections in puddles.

More About San Francisco on a Rainy Day

Trying to find a taxi on a rainy day in San Francisco is harder than escaping from Alcatraz. However, Uber drivers are plentiful in San Francisco, and so is Lyft.

Public transportation is also a good way to get around and many bus and tram stops have protective shelters. 

In general terms, the rainy season runs from November through March. For average highs, lows, rain, and humidity check the San Francisco weather guide but also check the short-range weather forecast to find out what the weather will be when you go.

More Things You Can Do in San Francisco

There's a lot more to do in San Francisco, rain or shine. If you're a contrarian traveler who seeks out the undiscovered spots, then don't miss these things you didn't know you wanted to do in San Francisco. And of course, you'll want to take a look at the top things to do in San Francisco.

Do you want your kids to have fun in San Francisco? Here's where to take them.

San Francisco is one of California's best places to have fun without spending a penny. Just use the guide to things to do for free in San Francisco.

If it's summertime when you visit, you'll definitely want to know what to do on a summer night in San Francisco. Or that matter, find out what you can do at night in San Francisco anytime

What Not to Do

You don't want to sound and look like a dumb San Francisco tourist or waste your time on trashy tourist spots. Whatever you do, don't do these 16 things when you go to San Francisco.