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Things to Do in the Rain in San Francisco

Updated: September 27, 2021
 By Britt

San Francisco in the winter can be known for gloomy skies, fog, and rain. But don't worry--San Francisco has much more to offer to compensate for these grey skies. Even on rainy days, there are so many fun things to do and amazing places to visit. We have put together a list of the best things to do when it's raining in San Francisco.

Walt Disney Family Museum

Things to Do in the Rain Disney Family Museum

So it’s a rainy day, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a trip to the famous Walt Disney Family Museum. Give yourself (and kids too!) an unforgettable experience as you explore the life of the world’s greatest animator, Walt Disney. This museum is sure to keep you captivated with the stories about the journey of Walt Disney from his very beginnings to stardom. You definitely won’t feel bored by the fascinating and insightful stories. Don’t miss the chance to visit this awesome family museum! Give your kids a feel of the real-life Walt Disney!

Note: This attraction is included on the Go SF Explorer Pass and the SF Mega Pass. Learn more about these great ways to save money here!

Ferry Building Marketplace – Shopping, Eating, Drinking, and Resting

Things to Do in the Rain Ferry Building Marketplace

With about 8 million visitors per year, there are dozens of things at the Ferry Building Marketplace worth experiencing. There is always something new at this amazing landmark for both first-time tourists and regular visitors. It features restaurants like Gott’s Roadside and El Porteno Empanadas that sell locally sourced foods. And while you are at it, be sure to do some shopping at great stores like Dandelion Chocolate, Beekind, and The Gardener. And when you feel like loosening up a bit, check out Boulibar, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, and Fort Point Beer Company for some really cool wine, beer, and beverages.

Shopping at Union Square

Things to Do in the Rain Union Square

Grab some comfortable walking shoes (you’ll need them!) and head for San Francisco’s most exquisite collection of the finest shopping plazas located at Union Square. From the popular Westfield San Francisco Centre – a magnificent nine-story shopping mall consisting of more than 200 shops and restaurants (see why you need comfortable walking shoes?), to large stores such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s, not forgetting smaller boutiques like The Archive, Marlow, and Goorin Bros; you are sure to find your fill of things to buy. Don’t let the rains hold you back. Go for that shopping spree!

Eat a Typical San Francisco Meal: Clam Chowder at Boudin Bakery in Fisherman’s Wharf, or Cioppino at Sotto Mare

Things to Do in the Rain Boudin Bakery

Feeling moody because of the rains and the gloomy weather? Take a stroll to Boudin Bakery at the popular Fisherman’s Wharf and grab a good bite of some delicious clam chowder in a bread bowl. This typical San Francisco meal that has been around for about 90 years is guaranteed to lift your mood! But if this staple food doesn’t excite you, head down to one of San Francisco’s most popular restaurants, Sotto Mare, for some freshly made cioppino! Don’t wait for the rains to stop; else you’ll be far down the long queue of people waiting to have a taste of Sotto Mare’s seafood stew.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

One grand place to spend a rainy day in San Francisco is in the imposing seven floor, 170,000 square foot Museum of Modern Art that houses more than 33,000 works of art! Who frets about some dampness in the face of such magnificence? The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is classed among the largest museums in the U.S. with collections ranging from architecture, media, paintings, etc. of notable artists like Jackson Pollock, Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, and a host of others. Take a walk in this world-class art museum and relish several awe-inspiring pieces of artworks that will blow your mind away!

Note: SFMOMA is included on the Go SF Explorer Card and the SF Mega Pass. Learn more about these great ways to save money here!

The Exploratorium

Things to Do in the Rain Exploratorium

If there is one place you’ll most definitely want to spend a rainy day in San Francisco, it is the Exploratorium. This museum has over 650 exhibits that can keep you completely enthralled throughout your stay. The Exploratorium is not just a museum; it is an experience begging to be explored! If you’ve ever imagined how it feels like walking into absolute darkness or stepping into a tornado, or even making your friends or colleagues disappear, then you'll need to go explore at the Exploratorium.

Note: The Exploratorium is included on the Go SF Explorer Pass and the SF Mega Pass. Learn more about these great ways to save money here!

Views from the Top of the Mark Restaurant and Bar

Things to Do in the Rain Top of the Mark

The absolute best views of San Francisco come not from the top of a mountain or an observation tower, but in a restaurant and bar called Top of the Mark! This view will brighten your mood on a rainy day. Top of the Mark presents such a grand view of San Francisco it’s almost unthinkable not to visit the restaurant and bar. Featuring a dance floor and live entertainment every day of the week, plus good food, wine, beverages, and cocktails, Top of the Mark is a great place to enjoy sumptuous meals and views with family and friends. Climb right to the top of Intercontinental Mark Hopkins to catch a 360-degree view of the city!

Take a Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour

Things to Do in the Rain Big Bus

Packed full with over 40 major landmarks, Hop on Hop Off Bus Tours are the easiest and most fun-filled way to explore San Francisco’s iconic attractions. (Be sure to read our post on the Best Bus Tours in San Francisco! Take the exciting tour in a comfortable open-topped double-decker bus and see the very best of San Francisco’s breathtaking landmarks. You can choose to hop on or off at various stops such as Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, or Ghirardelli Square, among others. And you get to listen to live commentary on each passing highlight as well as the rich history of San Francisco. Hop on Hop Off Bus Tours show you San Francisco in all its glory!

Note: Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tours are included on the Go SF Explorer Card, the SF Mega Pass, and the SF Sightseeing Pass. Learn more about these great ways to save money here!

So even when winter in San Francisco offers some unpleasant weather, you can still visit our beautiful landmarks, mouth-watering restaurants, exquisite shopping malls, and outstanding museums to make up for the drizzly day. So gear up and step out of the rain for some awesome experiences of a lifetime!

About The Author


Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city. A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.
Updated: September 27th, 2021
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