San Francisco has some drizzly days in the forecast, which is great for our climate but not always so great for our plans! If you’re feeling shipwrecked at home, we’re sure these ideas will still make the most of your rainy day in San Francisco. Whatever you end up doing, make sure you stay safe, stay dry, and have fun.
Table Of Contents
Rainy day activities out and about in SF
1. Beat some noobs at these Bay Area arcade bars
Looking to shake up your usual rainy day plans in San Francisco? It could be as simple as finding a great pinball machine! There’s something for everyone at these awesome arcade bars in the Bay Area.
2. Skate the night away at this groovy 19th-century church turned roller rink
Have you heard of this amazing roller disco near the Painted Ladies? The Church of 8 Wheels is the ultimate hidden gem, hosting San Francisco’s most avid skaters within a 120-year-old abandoned church. You can zoom around the rink before a backdrop of stained-glass windows featuring Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Disco music and neon lights bring the party to this unconventional skating experience.
3. Take a lap around the Ferry Building
Every San Franciscan knows that the historic Ferry Building is home to dozens of exciting vendors and events. Here are some of our favorites:
The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) runs this triweekly market right in front of the Ferry Building. They’ve offered high-quality diverse product from sustainable farmers since 1993. Find it on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am-2pm, and Saturdays 8am-2pm.
Bakeries and sweet treats in the Ferry Building:
If you’re looking for delicious, gourmet baked goods, some of our favorite bakeries are Craftsman and Wolves, Recchiuti Confections, and Miette Patisserie (see our article about seasonal fall treats for more info about them). Other great places include Acme Bread Company for delicious sourdough and Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream for some of the best gourmet ice cream in the city.
4. Find some great vintage pieces at these local thrift shops and vintage shops
Do you know where to go secondhand shopping in the Bay Area? We asked our Instagram followers for their recommendations, and they didn’t disappoint! Read our roundups for inspiration:
5. Check if these museums and gardens have free admission days coming up
We love San Francisco for its vibrant culture, history, and resources, but it’s no secret that living here costs a pretty penny. Whether you’re a college student on a budget, or a bargain hunter wanting to see the sights, this list of free admission days will certainly help you get started.
- First Sundays: Asian Art Museum
- First Tuesdays: de Young Museum & Legion of Honor
- Also free every Saturday for Bay Area residents
- First Tuesdays: Conservatory of Flowers
- Also free daily for SF City & County Residents
- And more
6. Discover an exciting new museum exhibition
Each month in San Francisco, countless local museums refresh and replace their temporary exhibitions. It’s never a bad time to take stock and plan ahead to see some of these wonderful displays before they’re gone. See our running list for the latest exhibitions to put on your radar.
7. See what’s going on at Fort Mason Center
When’s the last time you paid a visit to San Francisco’s amazing Fort Mason Center? The popular art center hosts numerous exhibitions and events throughout the year, and there are some special ones coming up. See our list for the latest.
8. Explore SF’s Japantown
San Francisco’s Japantown is a significant historical district and a rare sight in the US. There are only 3 remaining Japantowns in the US and SF is home to the oldest and largest of them. The 6-block neighborhood is a cultural hub for the Japanese-American community as well as a destination for delicious food, drinks, and nightlife. Japantown is a great place to visit on a rainy day in SF because many of its popular sights are indoors.
9. This free museum has over 300 antique arcade games and coin-operated machines
Musée Mécanique is one of the world’s largest private collections of coin-operated mechanical instruments, and one of the most unique museums in San Francisco. The collection was started by SF native Edward Galland Zelinskey, who bought his first coin-operated game when he was just 11 years old in 1933. Since then, it’s grown to include over 300 antique arcade artifacts, coin-operated pianos, slot machines, animations, and more. Zelinskey passed away in 2004, but his magnificent collection is still free for the public to enjoy at Pier 45 in San Francisco.
10. Sip on natural wines at this gorgeous urban greenhouse in the Mission
Arcana is a stunning plant store and “shared living room” that opened in the Mission District in May of 2021. Whether or not you have a green thumb, you’ll love this lush urban greenhouse founded by Iranian asylum seeker, queer activist, artist and SF standout Naz Khorram. Check it out for wine tasting, live entertainment, events, and more.
11. This SF plant store lets you create your own beautiful arrangements
Succulence Life and Garden is an adorable plant store in Bernal Heights where you can actually have an interactive planting experience after you browse their awesome selection. At the Planting Bar, you can create your own unique terrarium, vertical garden, or traditional horizontal planting with help from their staff.
12. Hit the books at these outstanding work/study places around the Bay
Whether you’re a student looking for somewhere to crank out an essay, or you work from home and want a change of scenery, here are some great study spots to visit and focus up.
- SF Public Library – Main Branch
- SF Public Library – Presidio Branch
- Mechanics’ Institute Library and Chess Room
- And more
13. Visit some awesome sea creatures at the Aquarium of the Bay
The Aquarium of the Bay is home to over 20,000 marine animals including sharks, octopus, jellyfish, otters, and more. Enjoy walk-through tunnels and other exciting exhibits as you learn all about these fascinating creatures.
14. Pick up a new read at these SF bookstores
Many a San Franciscan loves to curl up with a good book and sip on a cup o’ joe from one of SF’s legendary coffee shops. Not sure where to find your next good read? These famous bookstores around the city are musts for any local bookworm.
15. See who’s playing at the Bay Area’s best concert venues
We’re lucky to experience some highly-anticipated Bay Area concerts every single month. With a wealth of historic music venues in and around San Francisco you can count on creating some memories no matter who’s playing.
16. Warm up next to a roaring fireplace in SF
A homey, roaring fire is a hot commodity on a rainy day in San Francisco. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite fireplaces in San Francisco, ranging from outdoor patios to neighborhood bars to fine dining restaurants.
17. Settle in for a great film at one of San Francisco’s best movie theaters
Here we’ve rounded up our favorite San Francisco movie theaters, from large chains like AMC and Regal to smaller indie theaters like the Roxie. With so many great things to stream these days, sometimes we forget the allure of watching a new release in theaters. But we promise that these local SF cinemas will take your movie-watching experience up a notch.
18. Hit the ball around at these free indoor pickleball courts
SF Rec & Parks recently opened new free pickleball courts at the Palace of Fine Arts. Three brand new courts are available Tuesday through Sunday mornings, from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. Players can easily reserve the courts via the Rec and Parks online system.
19. Warm up with a luxurious spa day in the Bay
San Francisco is known for its famously chilly weather but is luckily also home to some world-class saunas and spas. From Finland to Mexico, saunas have been used for thousands of years. Beloved for their health and therapeutic benefits, especially popular in colder climates. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spa day by yourself or to sweat it out with the whole squad, there’s a sauna for every occasion.
At-home rainy day activities in SF
20. Take a trip back in time with the California Historical Society
The California Historical Society has an extensive digital library featuring everything from old menus to photos from the Spanish-American War. Browse endless documents and photographs from throughout the state’s history and connect with San Francisco, or any other city, on a new level.
21. Barter for starter! This SF bakery will give you their sourdough starter in exchange for a poem
San Francisco is known for having delicious sourdough bread, and Josey Baker Bread is a city staple. They’ll actually give you some of their sourdough starter if you can manage to strike a deal – The amateur bakers of San Francisco have been known to exchange hand-written poems, drawings, paintings, photography, six-packs of beer, and more. What’s more, Josey Baker himself has some excellent bread-baking tutorials on his Instagram. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to bake bread at home, this is your chance!
22. Create your own experiment with the Exploratorium
If you’re looking for something to do, the Exploratorium is a fantastic place to visit any day of the year. But if you can’t go in person, they have plenty of activities to try on their website, including Tinkering at Home. Explore lights and shadows, create your own wild contraptions, or animate a short film with items around your house. They have options for all ages.
Comfort food and drink for a rainy day in San Francisco
23. Indulge in a delicious baked good from one of SF’s best bakeries
Who’s hungry? San Franciscans with a sweet tooth have it easy in this glorious city, because SF bakeries absolutely do not mess around. We wanted to get to the bottom of where San Franciscans get their baked goods, so we posted an Instagram poll asking for recommendations. Here are the results.
24. Try out a new coffee shop and warm up with a hot drink.
If you’re a coffee fiend like 90% of Bay Area residents, you’ll know that there is no shortage of high quality coffee in San Francisco and beyond. Here are some essential spots recommended by locals, but see our full list of 38 Bay Area coffee shops for more inspo.
25. Flip out over SF’s best fluffy pancakes
Everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you might as well go all out! Check out our list of 10 unbelievably delicious pancake spots in SF recommended by locals. Here are a few of our favorites to whet your appetite:
26. Enjoy a luxurious high tea at these fairytale cafes
It’s not so hard to inject a dose of luxury into your coffee routine. These cafes around the Bay Area are great for delicious drinks and breakfast/brunch fare, but they especially stand out for their unique, eye-catching design elements. Whether you want an over-the-top garden oasis or an upscale minimalist space, these 10 cafes around the Bay are not to be missed.
27. Chow down on the best pizza in the city
You can’t call yourself a local until you’ve tried each of these unique pizza spots! If you’re hungry for some quality pizza pies, we’ve got you covered with everything from Neapolitan-style to Chicago deep dish. See our full list of the best pizza places in SF for more inspiration.
28. Visit SF’s legendary Tonga Room tiki bar
The beloved Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is one of the longest continually running tiki bars in the States. It’s basically everything a tiki bar should be: an explosion of deliciously kitsch tropical décor with all the themed, lethal cocktails you could hope for. Not to mention a live band that floats around on a boat in the plunge pool!
29. Discover your new favorite bottle at one of these trendy wine bars
We’re lucky to live right near wine country, meaning that Bay Area wine bars have their pick of some of the best wineries in the world. Whether you’re looking for a classy ambience with a highly curated selection, or a laid-back environment where you can find a perfect bottle to take home, we’ve got you covered! Here are a few to get you started, but be sure to see our full list of SF wine bars.
30. Warm up over a bowl of ramen
A steaming bowl of ramen is perhaps the most comforting and filling food we can think of! San Francisco, with its plethora of delicious and authentic Asian food, is one of the best places to enjoy this amazing dish.
31. Sip your way through SF’s best gourmet hot chocolate
You don’t have to be a kid to know that hot chocolate is one of the most underrated drinks on any cafe’s menu. As we head into the fall and winter seasons, it’s a great time to compile some spots to visit next time you’re craving this delicious drink!