Rain is in the forecast (yey!). Don’t let a little precipitation dampen your plans to visit San Francisco. Here are 9 rainy day activities that range from free to the somewhat indulgent.

Civic Duty

Visit San Francisco’s French Renaissance-style City Hall on free docent-led tours at 10, noon and 2 pm Monday-Friday. The building spans two city blocks and is considered one of the finest examples of Beaux Art architecture in the United States. Designed in 1915 by Arthur Brown, Jr. and John Bakewell, the interior features a sweeping marble staircase, and south and north light courts which feature rotating exhibits. Arrive five minutes before tour departure. For more information on this and other scheduled tours, telephone 415-554-6139. 

Round and Round You Go

Grace Cathedral’s indoor labyrinth was created in 1994 and is the setting for peace walks every Friday from 12:30-2 p.m. as well as monthly candlelight walks to music usually on the second Friday of every month and Tuesday yoga sessions ($10 donation). The indoor labyrinth is open when the cathedral is open, usually from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and until 7 p.m. on Sundays. Allow about 30 minutes for your labyrinth walk which is meant to be meditative you’re encouraged to walk with “an open heart and an open mind.” While you’re here, don’t miss Anne Patterson’s stunning, music-inspired Graced with Light installation that is constructed with nearly 20 miles of ribbon; the video projection runs from 3-6 p.m. daily.

Rolling History

For $2 you can make a sentimental journey from the Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf on board an F-line streetcar, operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway. The F-line has an array of domestic and international historic streetcars including Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) cars — the equivalent of Air Force One in public transit circles — and trams from Hamburg, Milan, Portugal, Blackpool, Melbourne and Hiroshima as well. On any given day up to 20 of the historic cars are in operation. While you’re out and about be sure to stop in at the San Francisco Railway Museum which is open daily except Mondays during the winter months.

Horsing Around

The Year of the Horse, 4712 on the lunar calendar, arrives at a full gallop on Jan. 31. Chinese sages say, unlike the Year of the Serpent in 2013 when “sudden and devastating events uncoiled,” the new lunar year promises to take on more of the character of the lively and high-spirited horse. Chinatown will be bustling with street fairs and be sure to make plans to see the annual Chinese New Year parade which goes on rain or stars at 5:20 pm on Feb. 15. 

Magnificent Magnolias

One of San Francisco’s most magnificent natural marvels is at its peak right now through the end of March. Nearly 100 rare and historic magnolias are in bloom at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. Dazzling pink and white flowers fill the wintery garden with profound scents and dramatic color. With trees reaching as high as 80 feet high, you’re often protected by a canopy of leaves overhead. Pick up a free family-friendly adventure map with activity suggestions for children.  Docent tours and a number of special events are planned throughout the blooming season. 


San Francisco’s succulent Dungeness crab is in season right now so why not head for Fisherman’s Wharf, stroll along its famous Fish Alley and purchase a walkaway crab cocktail or head indoors for a steaming bowl of clam chowder cached in a Sourdough bread  bowl. PIER 39 provides ample shelter from the weather and, of course, the sea lions aren’t bothered by inclement weather. You can check them out on the new webcam and learn more about them at the Sea Lion Center. 

Urban Wine Legends

Try locally made wine right here within the city limits of San Francisco or sample some of the best of California at tasting rooms located throughout the city, from Dogpatch to Treasure Island.

Jump for Joy

Awesome. That’s all we have to say about House of Air, an indoor trampoline park that occupies an historic former airplane hangar in the Presidio’s West Crissy Field. The main trampoline structure consists of 42 conjoined trampolines surrounded on all sides by full-sized trampoline walls. Additional areas include a freestyle trampoline modeled after skate park designs; The Colosseum which offers 22 conjoined trampolines used for organized trampoline dodge ball; a training area, and a Bounce House for children ages three to six. Go ahead, jump for joy.

Attention Shoppers

San Francisco is known for the diversity of its shops from neighborhood nooks to well-known names such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. You can putter around Harrington Galleries in the Mission or head to the Richmond District and check out Kumquat Art which is known for its Christmas ornaments and has a post-holiday sale going on right now. Levi’s were invented in San Francisco and the new Levi’s Store on Market Street offers an array of products that can only be found here. Another rainy day option is the Ferry Building which houses 50 some unique stores and restaurants. And wherever you go, look for the SFMade label which ensures that the product you’re purchasing was made in San Francisco.

Photo by Thomas Hawk / CC BY