SF 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, these ideas should spark your imagination for getting back out there. Whatever you end up doing, make sure you stay safe, stay dry, and have fun!
Food and Drink
1. 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! See more in our original list of superb bakeries recommended by San Franciscans, for San Franciscans.
- B. Patisserie
- Arsicault Bakery
- Arizmendi Bakery
2. 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.
- Hole in the Wall
- Caffe Trieste
- The Coffee Movement
- Lady Falcon Coffee Club Truck
3. 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:
- Gram Cafe
4. Enjoy a luxurious high tea at these fairytale cafes
Enjoy high tea under a canopy of pink roses, gold chandeliers, and twisting vines in this show-stopping San Jose gem. The French-Asian inspired food menu is to die for, and drink options include everything from boba to Vietnamese coffee and hot chocolate. The carefully curated space includes a hand-painted mural, regal goddess statues, and even a life-size metal horse in their outdoor courtyard.
This lovely restaurant has locations in Menlo Park and San Francisco. Here, you’ll get to enjoy a traditional American brunch crossed with Asian ingredients under a stunning canopy of flowers! One menu item that’s really caught our eye is the Cloud 9 Cocktail, a delicious drink featuring lillet blanc, dolin blanc, pineapple and sparkling wine. It’s made unforgettable with the addition of a floating cotton candy cloud and an edible butterfly.
5. 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.
- Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
- Flour + Water Pizzeria
- Square Pie Guys
6. 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!
7. 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.
- Press Club
- 20 Spot
- Ruby Wines
- Scopo Divino
- Linden & Laguna
8. Enjoy exotic cocktails at this new underground social club in Nob Hill
Persona has made quite an entrance as an exotic cocktail bar, social club, and event venue. It boasts unique drinks in a grungy yet luxurious setting, and is sure to be one of the hottest new happy hour spots in San Francisco. This self-described subterranean party hideout is a perfect place to find shelter from the elements.
Activities to get out of the house
9. Beat some noobs at these Bay Area arcade bars
Looking to shake up your usual rainy day plans? 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.
- The Detour
- LVL Up
- Retro Junkie
10. 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.
11. 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:
This popular flea market comes to the Ferry Building every Sunday from 10am-5pm, hosting truly excellent vendors and artisans.
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.
12. Find some great vintage pieces at these Bay Area thrift shops
Do you know where the best thrift shops are in the Bay Area? We asked our Instagram followers for their recommendations, and they didn’t disappoint! Here are a few of our favorites:
- Crossroads Trading Co.
- Out of the Closet
- Buffalo Exchange
- 2nd STREET
13. 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.
- de Young Museum and Legion of Honor
- Asian Art Museum
- SF Botanical Garden
14. 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.
15. This psychedelic mirror maze is the trippiest (legal) experience in SF
Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze is the ultimate fun house, outfitted with 77 mirrors and dozens of black lights so as to really step up the difficulty of escaping the labyrinth. Not only do the lights flash through different neon colors, but the whole experience is accompanied by blasting ’80s music!
16. Check out this gorgeous plant store and “shared living room” in the Mission
Arcana is a stunning plant store and “shared living room” that opened in the Mission District this past May. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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
- Daily Driver
- Mechanics’ Institute Library and Chess Room
19. Visit some awesome sea creatures at the Aquarium of the Bay
The Aquarium of the Bay is ‘o-fish-ally’ open, and you’ve got to check up on your favorite critters post-lockdown! The aquarium 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.
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!
23. Take a virtual tour of the Legion of Honor
The Legion of Honor is one of the largest public art installations in the city. It’s still closed to the public, but Google Arts & Culture has brought their collections to you. Browse over 6,000 years of ancient and European art including Rodin’s The Thinker, Monet’s Water Lilies, and much more.
Featured image: @aquariumofthebay via Instagram