13 Mystical Locales for Rainy Bay Area Days
Marshall's Beach. (Courtesy of Saksham Gangwar)

13 Mystical Locales for Rainy Bay Area Days


It's natural inclination to want to cozy up at home or find a cafe or gallery to hide out in when wet weather arrives, but the rain also brings out some of the most beautiful elements of our local landscape.

Pull on those rain boots and ready your umbrella, this weekend is going to be a wet one. Here are some of the prettiest places to venture out for misty water-colored magic.

Sutro Forest

When Sutro Forest is hit by rain, it becomes shrouded in mist. The overhead canopy provides some protection, while shimmering drops fall like confetti before disappearing into the lush ground. Wander the multiple trails through eucalyptus and take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge. // Medical Ctr Way (Inner Sunset), mntsutro.com

San Francisco Botanical Garden

Take in nearly a hundred rare magnolias blooming (the largest collection for conservation outside China) amid a multitude of other flowers exuding bright hues and smells. Walk through the native redwood grove or and witness the annual bloom of nearly 100 trees—where saucer-sized pink, white and magenta florals burst into life through March. // 1199 9th Ave. (Golden Gate Park), sfbotanicalgarden.org

Japanese Tea Garden

There's no better time to traverse the five acres of Japanese-style gardens in the heart of Golden Gate Park than when there's a cloudburst. The tranquil setting exudes a sense of cleansing when all wet, and the elements shine—a glistening arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stone paths, koi ponds, and zen garden. Also, in March and April, the cherry blossom trees begin to bloom. // 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr. (Golden Gate Park), japaneseteagardensf.com

Marshall's Beach

A beloved San Francisco destination, Marshall's Beach provides an epic view of the Golden Gate Bridge with the rolling seashore underneath. Though lovely rain or shine, when it's wet out, the storm in the sky and gilded breach of the sun reflects onto the sand, making for a truly surreal sight. // Langdon Ct. (Presidio), presidio.gov

California Academy of Sciences

The enclosed rainforests and living roof are stunning during the rain. Wander the multiple levels taking in the diverse eco-systems, and then pop out the top to see the rain wash over 2.5 acres of undulating green mounds with skylights; created to represent the topography of the Twin Peaks hills. // 55 Music Concourse Dr. (Golden Gate Park), calacademy.org

Redwood Regional Park

The redwoods are beautiful year round, but in the rain, the grounds come alive with a glowing crimson, and the towering trees provide a misty covering overhead. Though the trail options here are endless and could offer days of hiking, they're easy to navigate and are well manicured. // 7867 Redwood Rd. (Oakland), ebparks.org

Tilden Regional Park Botanic Garden

In the Berkeley Hills lies a gem of a park. The Regional Parks Botanic Garden sits on a sprawling 10-acres in Tilden Regional Park that explodes come rain with native California plants divided into ten geographically-based areas including Franciscan (yellow labels), Sierran (blue labels), Redwood (red labels), Sea Bluff (brown labels), Pacific Rain Forest (green labels), and more. In March the most prominent blooms include redbud, pink-flowering currant, California poppy, trilliums, shooting stars, wallflowers, fritillaries, and fawn lilies. // Shasta Rd. (Berkeley), ebparks.org

Mount Diablo

For yellow mustard, head to the valleys of the East Bay. The vibrant hues pop against the green hills. The Diablo Trail and North Peak Trail are great places to start as flowers will be just starting to bloom. // 96 Mitchell Canyon Rd. (Clayton, alltrails.com

Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore

Witness a waterfall plunging over a cliff onto Wildcat Beach, in full force during the rain. You'll need to hike about 13 miles to see it, but the trek, too, will be stunning with foliage and wildflowers. // Pt Reyes National Seashore, Mesa Rd. (Bolinas), alltrails.com

Cataract Falls, Mount Tamalpais

See the swelling pools and cascades along the creek, and make your way up to the falls set in the trees. If you're really feeling it, you can trek the full eight miles around the creek and surrounding area. // Bolinas Fairfax Rd. (Fairfax), alltrails.com

Long Ridge Open Space Preserve, La Honda

Step back in time to Jurassic Park. Walking along Peter Creek, made even more lush with rain, will have you in and out of groves of old redwoods, captivating views, and flowing waters. // 12000 Skyline Blvd. (Cupertino), openspace.org

McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Cruise down Highway 1 to behold McWay Falls, a quintessential Instagram attraction, reminiscent of Never, Never Land. The waterfall flows out of the mountainside and onto the beach before flowing into the crystalline sea, and is even more captivating in the rain. For the perfect vista, park on the dirt pullout 36 miles south of Carmel. // 52801 California State Route 1 (Big Sur), parks.ca.gov

Little Yosemite, Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness

Looking for efficiency? Sunol has a stunning series of mini waterfalls at Little Yosemite as well as cave rocks and wildflowers. Wildlife lovers, this is also a great spot to see golden eagles and perhaps even mountain lions. // 1895 Geary Rd. (Sunol), ebparks.org/parks/sunol

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