Of course, we love those golden California days filled with sun, breezy beach time and outdoor adventure. When the weather turns gray, it doesn’t mean you have to hole up inside. Below is our short list of what to do on a rainy day or when the sun’s blazing bright in the city. In beach mode? Our rain or shine picks are here.
San Francisco: Modern Art, Redwoods & Grown-Up Slides
- Drop by the new, expanded SFMOMA packed with modern and contemporary artwork by colorful masters like Matisse, Pollock, Kahlo and de Kooning (note: free admission the first Tuesday of the month).
- In Golden Gate Park, drop by the San Francisco Botanical Garden for fresh blooms, native redwoods and for kids, a stocked library.
- To go super local, head into Japantown, Fillmore and Lower Pac Heights for boutique shopping, Michelin-star restaurants and live music.
- Head to Seward Slides by Twin Peaks, a hidden gem designed by a 14-year old where giddy adults bring flattened cardboard boxes to pick up serious speed.
- After, head to the Dogpatch neighborhood for a modern Hawaiian brunch and tropical drinks at ‘āina. Our pick is the guava custard-filled malasadas.
- Alternatively, hop a quick 30-minute ferry to the charming town of Tiburon and drop by the waterfront spot Sam’s Anchor Cafe for fresh crudo, classic Cajun po’boys, salty Old Bay chips and onion dip.
San Diego: Science, Spa, Seals and Sunset Hikes
- The beautiful, urban sprawl of Balboa Park is always a good idea. Choose your own adventure with 15 museums (yes, 15!) including the San Diego Museum of Art and Rueben H. Fleet Science Center.
- Afterward, swing by the casual Panama 66 serving only local beers like the light Bagby “Sweet Ride Pilsner.”
- For kids, the downtown New Children’s Museum is a colorful, 3-story space with climbable sculptures.
- For some pampering, adults can slip into Nature’s Spa for a Jurlique Signature Massage, ending with an invigorating foot scrub.
- As the sun returns, visit the seals bathing and catching zzzz’s at La Jolla Cove’s Seal Rock and then lunch at the 1970’s institution El Pescador with fresh oysters and bay shrimp sandwiches on sourdough.
- The new Liberty Public Market is stocked with casual food hall stops and jolting nitro brews at Westbean Coffee Roasters.
- For a magical sunset hike, head to the postcard-esque Sunset Cliffs Natural Park and follow the dramatic ocean-side trails.
- Still hungry? For dinner, nab a table at JSix for favorites like char-grilled local sea bass; spicy, warm beet salad, and California wines.
Los Angeles: Concerts, Cinema, Architecture and Nature
- For contemporary eye candy, downtown L.A.’s latest cultural institution, The Broad Museum shows artists like Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, and Ed Ruscha.
- Next door, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall shares a rotating day-into-evening schedule of classical, world music and jazz.
- For indie films, foreign flicks and buttery popcorn, drop by L.A.’s arty Nuart Theatre for a show (every Saturday they screen the cult-classic Rocky Horry Picture Show).
- For lunch in West Hollywood, nab some healthyish comfort grub at Foodlab, which whips up gourmet sandwiches and organic salads like the famed chicken Schnitzel on greens.
- Stretch your legs along the main loop of the 160-acre Runyon Canyon or sign up for a horseback ride at Sunset Ranch; we like the 2-hour tour through the hills of Griffith Park (and under the famed Hollywood sign) with stellar, highly-Instagrammable views of the city below.
- For a taste of 1920’s Los Angeles, tour the MAK Center’s modern Schindler House designed by Austrian architect Rudolf Schindler, which also curates art and architecture exhibitions as well as performances.
- Later, check the famed Hollywood Bowl schedule, a longstanding amphitheater which hosts rock acts, classical concerts and pop music.
Want more ideas? Here are our insider tips in Hollywood.
Where to stay: Kimpton hotels in California