Top 18 Things To Do Indoors When It Rains In San Francisco, California - Updated 2024

things to do indoors in san francisco
Sharadha
Sharadha 
Contributing Writer
Updated
| 8 min read

Rain is like confetti from the sky and when taken with the best of experiences it becomes a cherishable memory. It is the perfect season for spending quality time with yourself and your loved ones. Some of the exceptional experiences can feel absolutely satisfying only when it is coupled with rainfall, like a hot cup of coffee. Here are some of the most interesting and irresistible indoor activities that you can indulge in during a rainy day in San Francisco, California.

1. Warm up with the Buena Vista authentic Irish coffee


Walking past the cable cars one will be able to find the 100-year-old tall building of the Buena Vista Café. Can you believe, that this place has a bartender (Paul Nolan), who has been making the same Irish coffee for the last 41 years? Buena Vista Café is the first bar in America to introduce Irish coffee and it is definitely the best in the world. The bar boasts that the secret behind their authentic concoction is their very own Irish whiskey, ‘Tullamore Dew’ which is specially blended for Buena Vista, their personally curated coffee and the specific 6 oz (0.17 l) glass. What else can be more satisfying than sipping a perfectly blended hot coffee on a rainy chilly afternoon?

Buena Vista Café

Address: 2765 Hyde St (@ Beach), San Francisco, CA 94109.

Website: The Buena Vista Café

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 2am; Sat - Sun: 8am - 2am

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2. Play vintage arcade games at Musée Mécanique


Musee Mecanique holds one of the largest collections of antique arcade games. As you enter you are greeted by the famous 6-foot (1.8 meters) laughing lady doll and its third generation owner Dan Zillion who goes skating around with a tag that says “I Work Here”. This vintage collection of more than 300 arcade attractions and mechanical musical instruments brings both nostalgia and awe in the eyes of the visitors. The entry is free and visitors can just go about playing any game they like. The amount of detail and maintenance that has gone into preserving this nostalgic place is amazing. Why would anyone need game consoles and VR glasses when we can physically participate in fun-filled games in real life for free?

Musee Mecaanique

Address: Pier 45, Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

Opening hours: 10am - 8pm

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3. Delve into the world of words at City Lights

Citylights
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user debaird used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If there is one thing that is equally satisfying in reading the last chapter of a book, it is browsing for books in a bookstore. Are you someone who prefers to sit with a book and a warm cup of drink on a rainy day? Do check out the huge three-story collection of world literature, art, and politics at the City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. This iconic bookstore is known for its intellectual collection and friendly staff.

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

Address: 4519, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States

Website: City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

Opening hours: 10am - 12am

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4. Explore the world in the California Academy of Sciences (from USD 41.0)

With an expansive campus consisting of an aquarium, planetarium, the rain forest, and natural history exhibits, the California Academy of Sciences houses over 26 million specimens. Being one of the largest museums in the world, the Academy of Sciences offers various tours like the Behind-the-Scenes Tour for an exclusive exploration of the museum to Nightlife, a weekly event on every Thursday night that allows exploring the academy after dark. There are also family events like the Penguins+Pajama Sleepovers. If you are someone who has always wanted to see those life-size dinosaur models, the California Academy of Sciences is a must try!

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California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket

Duration: 3 to 5 hours

538 reviews

5. Pamper yourself at Kabuki Springs & Spa


Tired of the turmoil of city life? Give your mind and body some rest by pampering yourself at the most raved about Japanese bathhouses in the city. The Kabuki Springs & Spa is a Japanese bath house that offers a range of premium bath, spa and communal services inspired by Japanese and other Asian spa treatments. Some times a little bit of self-care goes a long way into your well-being and health.

Kabuki Springs And Spa

Address: 1750 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA

Website: Kabuki Springs & Spa

Opening hours: 10am - 10pm

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6. Know the city's history

San Francisco City Hall, nighttime, September 2016
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dllu used under CC BY-SA 4.0

San Francisco’s City Hall also called “The Palace for the People” is the seat of the government of San Francisco and was rebuilt after the earthquake in 1906. The City Hall consists of five floors built on 500,000 sq ft (11 acres) of land area and is a place of historic significance.

San Francisco City Hall

Address: 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA

Website: San Francisco City Hall

Opening hours: 8am- 8pm

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7. Shop till your feet hurts at Union Square


Catch a cable car and explore the 2.6-acre (1 hectare) vast shopping hub of the city. Check out the Crocker Galleria of indoor and outdoor shops, experience fine dining on the outdoors, grab a few irresistible deals with all your heart at the Union Square. What can be more fun than spending hours window shopping and picking the products you love the most on a rainy afternoon?

Union Square

Address: 333 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

Website: Union Square

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8. Relive your childhood at the Walt Disney Family Museum (from USD 25.0)

Experience the early days of Disney and the legacy of how Walt Disney was able to create the best childhood for an entire century of kids. The Walt Disney Family Museum showcases the life and legacy of the pioneer of the American animation industry, Walter Elias Disney. Without Disney’s creations, it’s very hard to even imagine what childhood would have been like. The massive “micro model of the Walt Disney Studios” is a must see.

On a rainy afternoon, if you want to spend time seeing how great minds work, the Walt Disney Family Museum is a perfect place to visit. It is more intuitive than entertaining. The museum extends to 40,000 square feet (3716 square meters) and features a huge array of exhibits - including the nearly 250 awards that he won during his lifetime. As well as permanent galleries showcasing the various periods of his life, the museum also runs special exhibitions, the newest of which will celebrate Disney’s most famous creation, Mickey Mouse. There’s even a special digital theatre that screens Disney films every day - perfect for a rainy day with family.

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San Francisco The Walt Disney Family Museum Admission Ticket

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

158 reviews

9. Explore Alcatraz Island (from USD 48.0)

Exploring Alcatraz Island is one of the fun things to do in San Francisco that offers a glimpse into the infamous history of this iconic landmark. Once a maximum-security federal prison, Alcatraz housed some of America’s most notorious criminals.

Visitors can take a ferry to the island and explore the preserved prison complex, including the cellblocks and the famous solitary confinement cells. Guided tours and audio narratives provide insight into the daily lives of inmates and the daring escape attempts that have become part of Alcatraz’s legend. Beyond its prison history, Alcatraz Island also boasts stunning views of San Francisco’s skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. The island’s natural beauty, with its rocky cliffs and diverse wildlife, adds to the allure of this historic site.

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Cruise Around Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Philippines

10. Visit the Conservatory of Flowers

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers
Source: Photo by Flickr user Dale Cruse used under CC BY 2.0

The Conservatory of Flowers has been entertaining nature fans for more than 140 years and it features a host of beautiful rare and endangered species. And, unlike Muir Woods, its greenhouses mean you don’t have to risk getting wet to enjoy it. Located in the north-eastern corner of Golden Gate Park, it features plants from all manner of environments, from highland and lowland tropics to aquatic varieties and even potted plants. And, with such rich variety, there’s plenty of floral marvels to enjoy.

Conservatory of Flowers

Address: Golden Gate Park, 100 John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118

Website: Conservatory of Flowers

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6.30pm (closed Mondays)

Price: 9 USD (adults); 6 USD (12 - 17 yrs); 6 USD (seniors and students); 3 USD (5 - 11 yrs); Free for under 5 yrs

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11. Admire the underwater world at Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay exterior 3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user BrokenSphere used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This vast aquarium welcomes 600,000 people every year, and it’s easy to see why. Its two signature underwater acrylic tunnels are the very definition of an immersive experience, letting you marvel at the underwater wonders around you while you stroll through two massive aquarium tanks. And that’s just scratching the surface of things to see at the wider site. The aquarium boasts 273 different species and tens of thousands of fish - so you’ll be hard-pressed to run out of things to see.

Aquarium of the Bay

Address: Pier 39 Embarcadero & Beach Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

Website: Aquarium of the Bay

Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 27.95 USD (13 yrs and over); 22.95 USD (over 65 yrs); 17.95 USD (4 - 12 yrs); Free for under 3 yrs

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12. Check out some contemporary art at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2011
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Wgreaves used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Checking out contemporary art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is counted as one of the best rainy-day activities in San Francisco, This huge museum boasts a massive collection of more than 33,000 modern art pieces and it is so successful that it underwent a major expansion as recently as 2016. Today, it welcomes more than 1.1 million visitors every year, who come to marvel at some of the biggest names in modern art - from Andy Warhol to Frida Kahlo, and Gerhard Richter to Julie Mehretu. Other attractions include a 30ft ‘living wall’ and an outdoor sculpture garden - the latter of which will give you an excuse to go back when the wet weather clears.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Address: 151 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Website: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Opening hours: Fri - Tue: 10am - 5pm; Thur: 10am - 9pm (closed Wed)

Price: 25 USD (adults); 22 USD (above 65 yrs); 19 USD (19 to 24 yrs); Free for under 18 yrs

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13. Discover the exhibits at Exploratorium

San Francisco Exploratorium
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Figure8 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This interactive science and art experience features no fewer than 600 ‘on display’ exhibits at any one time; covering a wide array of subjects, from magnetism, electricity and light, to the wonders of human perception. Elemental science, human behavior and the area’s plant and animal life are also touched upon. Its ethos of exhibits you can participate in was ground-breaking when the facility was set up in the 1960s and it has gone on to influence museums across the world. And it’s proven equally popular too, attracting 1.1 million people a year.

Exploratorium

Address: Pier 15. Embarcadero at Green Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

Website: Exploratorium

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 5pm; Thur: 6pm - 10pm (for 18yrs and above only); (closed Mondays)

Price: 29.95 USD (adults); 24.95 (seniors); 19.95 USD (12 yrs and under); Free for under 3 yrs

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14. Explore the restaurants at The Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user JaGa used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This iconic waterfront location will make for a great option for whiling away a few hours on a wet day. It boasts more than 50 shops - which are sure to appeal to shopaholics among you - and, of course, there are a number of popular eateries in which to tempt those taste buds. From the American Eatery at Prather Ranch, with its mix of Americana dishes, to the seafood delights of the Hog Island Oyster Company. Indeed, there are no fewer than 18 different food destinations from which to choose, offering everything from sit-down meals to take-out treats. There’s even a farmer’s market.

The Ferry Building

Address: Ferry Building Marketplace, 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, California 94111

Website: The Ferry Building

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 7pm; Sat: 8am - 6pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm

Price: Free to enter (meal prices vary)

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15. Experience nature at its biggest in Muir Woods


Okay, it may be wet outside, but the natural marvels of Muir Woods may be enough to tempt you to don your waterproofs. Muir Woods National Monument is home to towering coast redwood trees. These relatives of the famous giant sequoia make their home amid the frequent coastal mists of this corner of California and rise as high as 79 meters (258ft). The oldest even dates back as far as 1200 years. Special trail boardwalks loop around the trees. And, if you’d rather stay dry, the site is home to a visitor center and a cafe and gift shop.

Muir Woods

Address: Muir Woods National Monument, 1 Muir Woods Road, Mill Valley, CA 94941

Website: Muir Woods

Opening hours: Varies depending on time of year (check website)

Price: Free

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16. Meditate at Grace Cathedral’s indoor labyrinth

things to do indoors in san francisco | meditate at grace cathedral’s indoor labyrinth
Source: instagram

This cathedral has much to admire; from its famous mosaics to its impressive stained-glass windows and the large doors - replicas of Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise - through which you enter. It is also home to two labyrinths - one outside which you may wish to save for drier weather, and another inside on the cathedral floor. The latter is a replica of a famous 800-year-old medieval labyrinth in Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres in France. It is said that following the labyrinthine route can help one achieve a meditative state - and, even if not, it offers a chance to enjoy a peaceful moment of reflection.

Grace Cathedral

Address: 1100 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

Website: Grace Cathedral

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 25 USD for tours

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17. Be impressed with an impressive collection of artifacts at Asian Art Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

“Wonderful and immersive experience.” — @annacampofiorito This is the LAST WEEKEND of “Beyond Bollywood: 2000 Years...

Posted by Asian Art Museum on Thursday, July 6, 2023

In San Francisco, California, the Asian Art Museum offers a captivating and enriching activity that impresses visitors with its remarkable collection of artifacts. As one of the most extensive collections of Asian art in the world, the museum showcases a diverse range of artistic masterpieces spanning various cultures and periods.

Upon entering the museum, you’ll be immersed in the rich cultural heritage of Asia, encountering stunning sculptures, intricate ceramics, exquisite textiles, and mesmerizing paintings. The artifacts provide a unique insight into the art, history, and traditions of countries such as China, Japan, India, and more. Guided tours and informative exhibits enhance the experience, allowing you to gain a deeper appreciation for the artistry and symbolism behind each piece.

Asian Art Museum

Address: 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102, United States

Website: Asian Art Museum

Opening hours: Fri - Mon: 10am - 5pm; Thu: 1pm - 8pm (Closed on Tue & Wed)

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18. Indulge in thrill and fun at the San Francisco Dungeon (from USD 20.0)

With real actors and specially created thrilling experiences, visitors will get to witness and be part of a gripping storytelling experience at 360º themed sets. The San Francisco Dungeon is a 60-minute thrill experience that includes scary rides, themed shows, and the all-new Escape Alcatraz Drop ride. Want a power-packed adrenaline rush on your rainy day? This place serves the best scare.

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San Francisco Dungeon Admission

Duration: 1 hour

Make your rainy days memorable in San Francisco

San Francisco Rain
Source: Photo by user Eric Sonstroem used under CC BY 2.0

Whether it is a rainy day or a chilly weekend afternoon, San Francisco is filled with so much fun and history that one can never check the box ‘fully explored’. The city is a feast quenching all your wanderlust and don’t forget to try each of these fun-filled indoor activities while in San Francisco, California.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Sharadha is a happy 'paw'rent to beautiful GSDs - Max n Tuffey. At times, when she is not too busy pampering her furry kids, she is trying her best to stay fit, write and travel. She loves...Read more

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