How to Spend a Rainy Day in San Francisco
An “atmospheric river”. That’s what they called it.
What the heck does that even mean?? I don’t know, but everyone in San Francisco was sure freaking out about it!
We’d already made plans to explore Golden Gate Park before we heard about this little weather episode, and it’d been over 2 months since we’d traveled anywhere (not counting our brief stint in Orange County). Needless to say, I wasn’t about to let some little old rainy day ruin our fun!
A Visit to the Conservatory of Flowers
Altering our original plan slightly, we decided to start the day off at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. On the way there, I’d realized two key things that would have helped to know sooner…1) that the road leading up to the conservatory is closed on Sundays, meaning we’d have to walk in from the street outside the park, and 2) we’d forgotten our umbrella. ? Figuring we probably wouldn’t want to do the walk in the rain without any sort of cover, we stopped at a CVS in the Richmond District to buy ourselves an umbrella.
“Buy two if they’re cheap,” I told Matt. “What’s cheap?,” he replies. “I don’t know, less than $10? A few minutes later, Matt texts me a photo of the CVS umbrella stand. 3 are left in the rack, 1 cheetah print and 2 hot pink. “Hot pink it is,” I text back. “Does that sign really say $20?!??!”
So there we were with our $20 “cheap” hot pink umbrella. There was a break in the storm, so we fumbled to get Evelyn out of the car and into her stroller as fast as possible. Luckily we’d remembered to bring the rain cover for her stroller, so she didn’t have to worry about getting wet at all, lucky girl!
It wasn’t so much the rain that was the problem, as the wind. As soon as we entered the park and headed towards the conservatory, the winds picked up and the trees really started to shake. We sprinted down the path, taking cover in the conservatory. By now I was thinking we were surely the only people stupid enough to make a visit today, but to my surprise there are a few other families inside.
Evelyn was loving it. She at first did a cautious walk on the metal grates that lined the walkways, but then started to pick up speed as she became more comfortable. The most fun part was opening the doors between each room. A simple push was much easier for her than the pesky doorknobs she had to deal with at home!
The conservatory building was pretty neat, but there weren’t so many flowers as just plants. All kinds of plants. On the acquatic plants side, Evelyn stopped to check out the fish in the koi pond.
There were a couple of times where Evelyn got going a little too fast and, combined with the wet floor, her legs slid out from under her and she landed on her butt. ?
We try our best, but getting a nice picture with a toddler is still not working the greatest for us.
Over in the special exhibits was a butterfly house, and inside Evelyn met another little girl named Isla. Isla had just been greeted by a butterfly on her leg and did not care for it at all! You can see her mom consoling her in the background.
But Evelyn didn’t mind at all. She giggled in excitement every time a butterfly passed by her face. After awhile she began to lose interest in the butterflies and became more fascinated with going through the netted doorways that were designed to keep the butterflies inside. That’s when we knew it was time to move on.
We mentally prepared ourselves for the trek back to the car, and it turned out to not be so bad. We still hadn’t used our $20 umbrella – the winds were too strong for it.
Lunch in the Sunset District
Once back in the car, we swung around Golden Gate Park and found a place to park on the other side in the Sunset District. Parking in San Francisco is horrendous, but we lucked out with a spot only 3 or 4 blocks from our lunch spot.
While the rest of San Francisco was busy brunching on this rainy Sunday afternoon, we decided to go for Mexican instead. Nopalito, a well-loved Mexican restaurant, has it’s second outpost here in Outer Sunset. We share totopos, pork belly and carnitas tacos, and rice and beans, not having a single bad thing in the bunch. I even dare to say, we kind of took our time with lunch. Usually it’s a sort of, “let’s not dilly dally too long, we’re on a limited time clock with a baby here” thing, but Evelyn actually kinda sorta held her cool throughout the whole meal! (as much as toddlers can).
Exploring the California Academy of Sciences
After lunch we drove (again) to the California Academy of Sciences. We could have walked, had the weather not been so terrible, but we decided to pay for the convenience of underground parking. We’d roughed it enough already today.
I have to say, I was not sure what to expect by the Academy of Sciences and found it to be a weird mix of exhibits that didn’t really flow together the greatest but were each fun in and of themselves. We started off at the aquarium, which Evelyn loved and was the highlight for us all. They have some pretty impressive displays, even for adults.
We met the albino alligator Claud, who lives all alone since his old mate Bonnie started harassing him. True story – the museum docent told us the last straw was when she bit off his toe! ?
We didn’t get to take part in one of the Academy’s planetarium shows, which is another mainstay at the museum. Evelyn was already slightly overdue for a nap, and I didn’t want to chance a meltdown. We were also bummed that the 40 mph winds kept us from being able to take a peek at the living roof. ?
We did check out a few of the museum’s other exhibits, like the Tusher African Hall with its taxidermy wildlife and the earthquake simulator, which recreates San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake (and I have to say, having felt a real earthquake, it’s a pretty cool simulation!) We also took a walk through the rainforest, and Evelyn enjoyed cawing back at the parrots. So much so that she wouldn’t stop cawing! I guess she just thought that’s what you’re supposed to do.
The Search for a Sweet Treat
After a busy day, Evelyn fell immediately asleep once we were back in the car. But Matt and I weren’t quite ready to end the day yet, and figured a nice sweet treat was in order. I had wanted to make a stop at Mr. Holmes Bake House. You may have seen it before – it’s got that neon pink sign inside that says “I got baked in San Francisco.” (see exhibit A) They have this most delicious looking dessert called the “cruffin” – a croissant muffin – and we needed to have it (see exhibit B). But as if some cruel joke, I realized in that moment that they closed at 3:30 pm and it was now 3:22. It would take us 18 to drive there, according to the GPS… ?
So I took to Google, searching “best sweet treats in San Francisco”. My search led me to two nearby(-ish) options: Fillmore Bakeshop and Bob’s Donuts. Fillmore was closer and said to have amazing cronuts; the next best thing to the cruffin, I figured.
We pulled up to Fillmore and I hopped out of the car while Matt circled the block (good luck finding a parking spot in San Francisco, remember). Inside I scanned the baked goods, but wasn’t finding anything that resembled a cronut. So I asked.
“Nooooo, we stopped selling cronuts about 8 months ago.” WHAAAT? I couldn’t leave empty handed, so I summoned two much less exciting looking croissants from behind the glass counter.
When I got back into the car to explain to Matt what happened, he was looking less than satisfied at our strike 2. “Well…Bob’s Donuts?” It was only a few blocks away. “Might as well!”
At Bob’s there wasn’t much to see – a whole in the wall donut shop with just a window to the street that housed the most amazing looking glazed donuts you’d ever laid your eyes on. There were even a couple giant donuts – which I semi-seriously contemplated getting for a second. But I went the more practical route – a raspberry jelly donut for me, and a chocolate-covered cream-filled long john for Matt.
4 pastries later (and 2 lattes from nearby coffee shop), we’d figured this was as good as it’d get. Rain still coming down, we made our way back home. We’d braved our rainy San Francisco day and fared quite well, I thought.
Oh, and we never did use the umbrella. :\
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