While Silicon Valley has many days of sunshine and some of the best weather in California's southern San Francisco Bay Area, it does get rain every once in a while. And it's easy to spend a gloomy day having fun, as there are lots of rainy day activities to do in San Jose, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale, and the other Silicon Valley cities. Locals and visitors can check out a variety of restaurants with tasty food from around the world and cozy cafes for staying dry. You can also stop at a craft brewery or go wine tasting, enjoy an art or science museum, catch an IMAX 3D movie or a silent film museum, or engage in indoor sports such as ice skating, jumping on a trampoline, or swimming.
Rainy days are great times to head to one of Silicon Valley's diverse museums. To see some modern and contemporary art pieces, check out San Jose Museum of Art or Anderson Collection at Stanford University. For a science and technology museum, check out The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, which has more than 1,100 historic artifacts.
If you need to entertain small kids, visit one of the area's excellent children's museums like The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, with fun art, nature, science, and additional exhibits, plus a theater featuring everything from Japanese taiko drumming to films and Tahitian dancers.
Rainy days are great times to go out to eat, hole up in a cozy coffee shop, or try something new close to home or your hotel. Silicon Valley has lots of exciting restaurants with cuisine from countries around the world, including Japan, Vietnam, China, and elsewhere. In Sunnyvale and Milpitas, you'll find Indian eateries and shops; Nirvanaah! in Sunnyvale sells ice creams, cakes, and shakes made with Indian fruits, nuts, and other special ingredients. The San Jose area has unique spots like Popular Bakery with Portuguese pastéis de nata lemon custard tarts and Bel Bacio Italian Coffee Shop featuring espresso drinks from Italy in a historic Victorian home.
There's no need to drive all the way up to Napa or Sonoma to sample some quality Northern California wines. The nearby Santa Cruz Mountain and Santa Clara Valley wine regions offer a range of tasting experiences close to home.
Local wine bars and craft beer breweries are also ideal for sampling drinks while waiting for the storm to pass. The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is host to an event once or twice a month called Brews & Views, with speakers on environmental and social issues, politics, and more. In Santa Clara, Taplands brewery and tasting room has over 20 different craft beers on tap, which you can sip on while having some sandwiches and salads.
Always bring a designated driver, or hire a taxi, Uber, or Lyft.
Let retail therapy help you get over any rainy day blues. Head to one of Silicon Valley's downtown business districts or shopping centers; you can also stay completely indoors at one of the many malls. San Jose alone has several enclosed malls, like the upscale Westfield Valley Fair Mall and its more than 200 shops, including several luxury stores; Eastridge Center, where you'll find department and brand name stores, along with a food court and multiplex theater; Westfield Oakridge; and Westgate Mall.
Enjoy Indoor Playgrounds and Sports
Staying active can be hard when the rain is coming down. One family-friendly way to burn off some energy is to head to an indoor playground or a trampoline gym like San Jose's Rockin' Jump Trampoline Park, which has dodgeball and open jump arenas, among many other attractions. Families can also try a swimming pool, an indoor ice skating rink such as Nazareth Ice Oasis which is open all year in Redwood City, a roller rink, or an indoor rock climbing gym.
A scarier option is to visit the Winchester Mystery House, an elaborate, 160-room Victorian mansion and National Historic Landmark in San Jose that has been called the most haunted house in the country. The Mansion Tour will take you through 110 of the rooms in 65 minutes. Or try the Explore More Tour, a 70-minute look at areas that have been off limits or never open to the public. Also, in the fall, there are spooky Unhinged after-dark walks for people ages 13 and up. Explore the Victorian garden with hundreds of flowers and some mythological statues. Most of the Winchester House tour takes place indoors, so it's a good activity for a rainy day.
From blockbusters to children's favorites to comedies and more, movie theaters are always a great place to get out of the rainy weather and enjoy some popcorn. Various IMAX theaters in Silicon Valley cities like San Jose and Santa Clara make for a fun day, with 3D and modern technology maximizing your film experience. Foreign and art films abound at CineArts Santana Row in San Jose, CinéArts at Palo Alto Square, and Landmark Aquarius Theater in Palo Alto, among others.
For something a little different, head to the Niles Silent Film Musem in a historic motion picture theater in Fremont, where classic movies play and visitors learn about early silent films and the Hollywood movie scene of the past.