20 Things to do on a Rainy Day in San Francisco

Exploring San Francisco & The Bay Area
George Rose / Getty Images

While rain isn't incredibly common in San Francisco (it's more likely to be the ubiquitous fog that kills your vibe), don't be afraid to put on a bit of rain gear and venture out into the city. Even in bad weather, you can find a museum for almost any interest, listen to music at the symphony, or explore some of the city's architectural wonders. Here are our 20 favorite ways to defeat a damp day in San Francisco.

01 of 20

Go on a Brewery Crawl

Close-up Of People Toasting With Beer
Yusun Chung / EyeEm / Getty Images
Address
563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
Phone
+1 415-369-0900

Craft brewing is on the rise in San Francisco, with more breweries in the city than there were before Prohibition. And luckily, many of them are concentrated together, making for the perfect rainy day activity.

Start your beer crawl at 21st Amendment Brewery, known for their seasonal brews and cartoon-esque can designs, before popping into nearby Black Hammer Brewing (where a taster will run you just $4, as of 2018), and ThirstyBear Brewing Company, the city's oldest brewpub, having opened in 1996. (The latter has 10 different brews on tap, all paired with tasty tapas.)

02 of 20

Have an Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe

Irish Coffee in San Francisco
isuperwang/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Address
2765 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
Phone
+1 415-474-5044

The first place in America to serve the warm mixture of Irish whiskey, coffee, sugar, and cream is still going strong, and all that hot coffee and alcohol are pitch-perfect for a rainy day.

Buena Vista Cafe perfected their recipe way back in 1952, and it's estimated that they serve nearly 2,000 of the tasty beverage each day.  

03 of 20

Let Someone Else Drive You Around

Courtesy of Vantigo

You might need to plan ahead, but you can stay dry and see the city at the same time in a classic Volkswagen van with Vantigo, a favorite San Francisco tour company. Their city tours include jaunts around some of San Francisco's most famous landmarks, as well as Alcatraz. They can even take you on wine country tours and brewery tours. 

04 of 20

Play Games

Visitors inside Musee Mecanique at Fisherman's Wharf.
Roberto Soncin Gerometta / Getty Images
Address
Pier 45, Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Phone
+1 415-346-2000

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. To see some of the games they have click here.

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05 of 20

Go On an Indoor Tour

The murals inside Coit Tower

Melissa Zink / TripSavvy 

San Francisco City Guides offers some fun guided tours that stay inside. Among their indoor tours, they 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.

06 of 20

Browse for Books

The entrance of City Lights Books

Melissa Zink / TripSavvy 

Address
261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Phone
+1 415-362-8193

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. 

07 of 20

Relax at an Authentic Japanese Bathhouse

Address
1750 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115-3715, USA
Phone
+1 415-922-6000

Try an authentic Japanese bathhouse experience or a massage at Kabuki Springs, or enjoy a Japanese meal and bath at ​Onsen.

08 of 20

Take Some Photos

Golden Gate Bridge in the Rain
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

It's not as crazy as it sounds. Rainy days can offer the photographer some interesting shots.

Try a black-and-white photo of the skyline from the end of Pier 7. Focus on details. Look for reflections in puddles. ​​

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09 of 20

Learn How Things Are Made

Learning about chocolate making at Dandelion Chocolate
©Betsy Malloy Photography
Address
708 Addison St, Berkeley, CA 94710-1971, USA
Phone
+1 510-540-8250

Just across the Bay Bridge in Berkeley, you can learn how sake is made at Takara Sake. A drive north takes you to the Jelly Belly Factory.

Or stay in San Francisco and visit Dandelion Chocolate or any of San Francisco's top chocolate makers.

10 of 20

Visit the San Francisco Botanical Garden

Flowers in the San Francisco Botanical Garden
©Betsy Malloy Photography
Address
1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122-2370, USA
Phone
+1 415-661-1316

Even during the rainy season, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is still one of the city's greatest natural wonders. Located in Golden Gate Park, the garden has more than 8,500 species of plants, showcasing everything from rare magnolias and native redwoods to South American cloud forests, befitting of a foggy, misty day in the Bay Area.

If you have kids in tow, pick up a family-focused adventure map from the visitor's center. For more information visit their website.

11 of 20

Go Shopping

Shopping in San Francisco
David Paul Morris / Getty Images
Address
Union Square, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

San Francisco's Union Square is home to the city's best shopping, including a sprawling Westfield mall with several large department stores and smaller boutiques, like Goorin Bros. hatmakers, Marlow, a cashmere shop, and the Archive, an upscale men's boutique. 

12 of 20

Walk Around the Labyrinths at Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral Labyrinth
George Rose / Getty Images
Address
1100 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108-2206, USA
Phone
+1 415-749-6300

This Nob Hill Episcopal church is more than just a church: It's home to two labyrinths, which guests are free to stroll, an AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel with an altarpiece designed by artist Keith Haring, and an event calendar full of yoga classes, choir performances, and more. For a full event calendar and more information click here.

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13 of 20

Tour San Francisco's Elaborate City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

 Shanna Baker/Getty Images

Address
1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
Phone
+1 415-554-4000

San Francisco's City Hall, a National Historic Landmark, is among the most beautiful buildings in the entire city. Home to more than 30 weddings each day, the Beaux Arts structure was built in 1915 and thoroughly restored after an earthquake in 1989.

The building's spans more than 500,000-square-feet, meaning there's plenty do and see here! Hour-long docent-led tours are available on weekdays at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. Visit their website for more information.

14 of 20

Eat Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl

Clam chowder served in a bread bowl

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images 

Address
8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Phone
+1 415-673-0183

There are few foods more comforting—and more quintessentially San Francisco! But that also means tons of different options for this comfort-food favorite, some better than others.

For the best clam chowder in a bread bowl, head to Alioto's at Fisherman's Wharf, a staple for more than 90 years, or The Grotto, an updated and re-imagined version of the city's classic Fisherman's Grotto, which has graced the pier since the early 1900s. 

15 of 20

Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

SFMOMA's 2016 Addition
© Henrik Kam, courtesy of SFMOMA
Address
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Phone
+1 415-357-4000

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art houses a collection of more than 33,000 works of art, all presented in the museum's 170,000-square-foot of exhibition space. Among the largest museums in the U.S., the SFMOMA is home to an expansive permanent collection, with works by Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and more, but also hosts rotating exhibitions, often five or more at a time.

16 of 20

Go See a Theater Performance

Address
450 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
Phone
+1 415-677-9596

While there are many options for good theater in San Francisco, the non-profit San Francisco Playhouse, set in an old hotel on Union Square, is among the best. The small theater puts on nine different plays yearly, which range from Broadway hits to musicals and international performances. 

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17 of 20

Listen to the San Francisco Symphony

Address
201 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102-4507, USA

What better way to spend a rainy evening than with some classical music? The city's symphony, which performs out of the Davies Symphony Hall in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, plays everything from classical composers like Stravinsky to classical takes on favorite films, like Love Actually, which are shown on a projection screen behind the stage. To see a calendar or get tickets, visit their website.

18 of 20

Watch the Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings

Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Address
7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621, USA
Phone
+1 510-569-2121

Head across the Bay to Oakland to watch one of the NBA's most-beloved teams duke it out at the Oracle Arena. Tickets to see the NBA champions can be pricey and hard to come by, but TicketsNow, Ticketmaster's secondary ticketing platform, usually has a good selection. While all of Oracle Arena is intimate (no bad views here!), splurge for the lower-level seats if you can. Check their website for more information.

19 of 20

Visit the Exploratorium

Visitors at the Exploratorium
©Betsy Malloy Photography
Address
Exploratorium, Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Phone
+1 415-528-4444

The Exploratorium is an incredible science museum that will delight children and adults alike. Instead of high-tech displays and sleek videos, the Exploratorium focuses on simple, hands-on experiences. You can easily spend a full day or more discovering the more than 650 exhibits. The museum moved to its new waterfront building in 2013, which is bright and spacious. See more about the Exploratorium here

20 of 20

Learn How San Francisco's Famous Sourdough Bread Is Made

Close-Up Of Fresh Baked Turtle Breads On Tray At Cafe Boudin Bakery

 Faith Cao / EyeEm/Getty Images

Address
Pier 39, Space 5-Q, Pier 39, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Phone
+1 415-421-0185

Visit the famed Boudin Bakery's Fisherman's Wharf location to learn the history and craft behind this San Francisco staple. Tours are centered around the company's history, including its founder's immigration to San Francisco. You can see all the action from a 40-foot catwalk suspended above the bakery and can even ask questions of the bakers via a two-way intercom system. 

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20 Things to Do on a Rainy San Francisco Day