San Francisco Indoor Activities: 11 Ideas for Not-So-Sunny Days

This is it! You’ve planned out every detail of your San Francisco trip, from the tour tickets to the hotel room.

You’re about to start packing for your trip when you decide to check the forecast. Rain. Cue the sad trombone melody…

While you may be shocked and disheartened, this is the norm for San Francisco. Gloomy skies, rain, and wind all are typical weather for the Bay Area. Don’t be discouraged, though! With rain being such a normal occurrence, there are a ton of things to do in San Francisco on a rainy day.

Instead of letting a bit of rain thwart your entire trip, check out these exciting rainy day activities in the Bay Area.

1. Walt Disney Family Museum

Naturally, one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco on a rainy day is exploring the abundance of museums, such as the Walt Disney Family Museum. The museum explores the renowned animator’s journey into Hollywood stardom. In addition, guests can get an inside look at Walt Disney himself, his family, and his interests outside of the Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney Family Museum is captivating for children and adults alike and offers a magical escape from the gloomy weather

Walt Disney Reading Magazine Next to Mickey at The Walt Disney Family Museum - San Francisco, California, USA2. San Francisco Dungeon

On the other hand, if you’d like to have a dark cloud follow you around all day, get tickets to the San Francisco Dungeon. The San Francisco Dungeon takes visitors through a 60-minute journey through the Bay Area’s frightening, comical, and intriguing history. Featuring a drop ride, live actors, interactive storylines, world-class special effects, and more, the San Francisco Dungeon is unlike any other tourist attraction you’ve ever experienced.

Word of caution: Due to the thematic elements and context of certain storylines, this attraction is best suited for kids above the age of 10. Even then, some parts of the attractions may be too scary for kids. If necessary, families can exit the attraction at various points. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a parent throughout the attraction.

3. Aquarium of the Bay

Although the rain may stop you from watching sea lions at Pier 39, you can still enter an underwater world at Aquarium of the Bay. This San Francisco aquarium houses over 1,000 marine creatures for the purpose of rehabilitation, conservation, and research. Aquarium of the Bay focuses on educating visitors about the marine life living and thriving in the greater Bay Area, from sea lions to sea bass.

Travel Tip: Get your aquarium tickets ahead of time. Rain or shine, Aquarium of the Bay is a popular San Francisco spot for tourists.

Entrance to the Aquarium of the Bay - San Francisco, California, USA4. Museum of 3D Illusions

At the Museum of 3D Illusions, prepare to let your imagination run wild! With over 40 3D illusions available to visitors, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to just see illusions—but experience them. All of the illusions are interactive art exhibits. As a result, you get to dive right into the middle of the illusion and create incredible photos to share with your friends and family. Trust us, you’ve never seen anything quite like the Museum of 3D Illusions in San Francisco!

5. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA)

When thinking of things to do in San Francisco on a rainy day, did browsing a world-class art museum come to mind? It should! The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, also known as the SFMoMA, houses all forms of art including media, film, paint, architecture, and more. The museum features more than 30,000 (and counting) works from local, regional, and world-renowned artists.

With the wealth of art and exhibits, the SFMoMA is great for parents and children on a dreary, drizzly day.

people standing around the gallery at the san francisco museum of modern art6. California Academy of Sciences

Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean your day can’t be fun! The California Academy of Sciences makes learning exciting with an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum all in one place. Check out a 4-story rainforest or rocket into space with hands-on exhibits, entertaining shows, and more.

If you plan to visit the California Academy of Sciences during your rainy vacation day, be sure to allot several hours. There is so much to see, explore, and learn about in this massive educational museum.

7. Exploratorium

With more than 650 exhibits, the Exploratorium is far more than a museum—it’s an experience. You can step into the middle of a tornado, make your friend disappear, and even walk into total darkness. Of the things to do in San Francisco on a rainy day, the Exploratorium is by far the most intriguing!

EThe Exploratorium is great for all ages but tends to appeal more to children. If visiting, be sure to also spend time at the onsite cafe or restaurant, and stop by the stores for a souvenir.

8. The Ferry Building

Want to spend your rainy day shopping? Head to the Ferry Building! Inside, you’ll find an expansive assortment of food, shops, artisans, and more. For foodies and craft enthusiasts alike, this San Francisco establishment is a must—regardless of the weather.

While inside, take advantage of the endless array of restaurants and sample San Francisco’s cuisine. From Blue Bottle Coffee (a personal favorite) to Hog Island Oyster Company, you could spend a full day trying the different types of food inside the Ferry Building

Aerial view of the Ferry Building at sunset with a row of palm trees in front of it and the Golden Gate Bridge behind it in San Francisco, California, USA
photo credit: San Francisco Ferry Building via Facebook

9. Go Outside

Remember, rain is normal in San Francisco. Don’t let it put a damper on your plans to explore the Bay Area’s sprawling coast or enchanting forests. You can still visit Muir Woods, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island in the rain. Grab a raincoat, some rain boots if necessary, and go have fun! After all, you’re on vacation—pouting over a rainy day is prohibited.

10. Grace Cathedral’s Indoor Labyrinth

Did you know San Francisco is home to an indoor labyrinth? Located at Grace Cathedral, the indoor labyrinth is a place for meditation, reflection, and peace. While this is not an attraction, per se, it is still a marvel to observe and experience.

Should you choose to visit Grace Cathedral’s Indoor Labyrinth, please be respectful of others and follow the instructions provided. If you happen to be visiting during the week, the cathedral also offers yoga classes at the labyrinth on select nights.

11. Conservatory of Flowers

Last on our list of things to do in San Francisco on a rainy day is the Conservatory of Flowers. This downright gorgeous destination is one of the oldest remaining wooden conservatories in the United States. This botanical garden is home to more than 2,000 plant species bursting with colors, patterns, and beauty.

Plus, one of the most entertaining things to do in San Francisco on a rainy day can also be free—if Mother Nature times her rainstorm just right. On the first Tuesday of the month, the Conservatory of Flowers offers free admission to all!

girl jumping in water puddles with rain boots and umbrella
Things to do in Orlando when it rains

11 Things to Do in San Francisco on a Rainy Day

No matter if it’s bright and sunny or overcast and drizzling, a trip to San Francisco is unlike any other. Plan ahead for a few rain showers and you’ll be just fine.

Do you have a favorite rainy day destination or activity in San Francisco? Share your insight in the comments!

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