Sure, we’ve all spent sunny days exploring the tide pools at Crissy Field, building forts beneath the towering eucalyptus and cypress trees, or lazing away the day at Off the Grid’s Sunday picnics (which are starting up again in April!), but did you know the Presidio really shines when the rain clouds come out? There’s plenty of indoor family fun to be had within San Francisco’s largest National Park, from movies to bowling to simulated batting cages. Read on for some of our favorites, plus a few outdoor activities that are worth the risk of getting caught in the rain. As your mother might say, you won’t melt.family crafts

Photo: Presidio Trust

In a Downpour…

Get Crafty at the Presidio Officers’ Club
After a 3-year rehabilitation, the Officers’ Club reclaimed its status as the Presidio’s social hub, with inviting gathering spaces that host a full calendar of free community events. Families are invited to get crafty — and a little messy — every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with art projects that riff on the Presidio’s storied history and natural beauty. All materials, instruction and inspiration are provided. While there, check out the building’s original adobe walls that were revealed during the rehab, and treat yourselves to brunch at Traci Des Jardins’ Arguello before or after your craft session. Keep your eye on the Officers’ Club event calendar for kid-friendly programs throughout the year.

Presidio Officers’ Club
50 Moraga Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-561-4400
Online: presidio.gov/officers-club

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Make it a Date for Family Movie Night
At the end of a long week that saw everyone running in different directions, reconnect with family and friends in front of the big screen in the Presidio Y gym. Bring your coziest blankets, and settle in for cartoons and a kid-friendly feature, sponsored by SF Supervisor Mark Farrell, in partnership with the Presidio Trust and the Y. Show up early to score dinner from the food trucks parked outside. Inside, there’s free popcorn and It’s-It ice cream treats. Held one Friday a month. Upcoming flicks include Ratatouille (February 12), Cars 2 (March 11), and Sandlot (April 8). Note that in better weather, this is an outdoor affair, on the lawn between the Presidio Preschool and the Presidio Dance Center.

Presidio Y Gym
63 Funston Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: presidio.gov

 

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Go Deep with Ocean Science at the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center
The Greater Farallones Marine Sanctuary outside the Golden Gate is home to a jaw-dropping array of sea life, including many endangered and threatened species. Learn all about it at the Sanctuary’s visitor center, housed in a historic Coast Guard station at the west end of Crissy Field. The second Saturday of every month, they host a family program in their hands-on classroom on the pier. You’ll feel like ocean scientists as you study live crabs or plankton, dissect a squid, and explore other wonders of the local waters. There’s a new topic every month. To sign up, contact Mark Oates at mark.oates@noaa.gov. The $10 Second Saturday program fee helps fund their free educational programs for area schools.

Greater Farallones Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center
991 Marine Drive
San Francisco, Ca
415-561-6622
Online: farallones.noaa.gov

Catch an Animated Feature (or make your own) at the Disney Family Museum
When it’s raining cats and dogs, duck into the Walt Disney Family Museum to take in a classic Disney movie in their Fantasia-themed theatre. You won’t find popcorn for sale in the lobby, but you can grab a snack or sample Uncle Walt’s favorite chili in the museum cafe. On weekends, kids and caregivers can try their hand at making their own animation in the museum’s Open Studio on the lower level. Stop-motion and other computer-based projects attract older kids, while Little Open Studio offers arts and crafts for the younger set. Open Studio is free to all, no museum admission required. Films are free with museum admission, or tickets can be purchased separately (as with the museum, kids 5 and under are free with adult admission). Check the website for hours and film schedule.

Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery St. in the Presidio
San Francisco, Ca
415-345-6800
Online: waltdisney.org

Get Ready for Spring Ball at Batter’s Box
If you signed your little slugger up for spring baseball or softball, book some family time in the cage at Batter’s Box to help them prepare for the season (while you let off some post-workday steam). In this repurposed Army warehouse next to the La Petit Baleen swim school, hi-def simulated pitching machines throw varying degrees of heat—from 40 to 90 MPH —to ages six and up. Whiffle balls are available for ages three and up. Book your time online or in person in 15-minute blocks. Ask about their discount for LPB members. Batter’s Box SF also offers camps and lessons, and can be booked for private parties.

Batter’s Box
933B Old Mason St.
San Francisco, Ca
707-412-8228
Online: battersboxsf.com

Go Ahead and Jump at House of Air
When’s the last time you said, “Wheeeee”? Too long ago to remember? Book some therapeutic jump time for the whole family in this historic airplane hangar, housing 8,000-square-feet of conjoined trampolines. Note that kids age 3 to 6 have their own dedicated space at House of Air, with a staff of “air traffic controllers” to keep them entertained and safe. You can book a tandem jump session or grab a coffee and zone out to the rhythmic bouncing. To appease rumbling tummies, House of Snacks also serves lunch and healthy snacks. They also offer classes for kids as young as 2.5 years and adults.

House of Air
926 Old Mason St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-345-9675
Online: houseofair.com

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Pick a Lane at the Presidio Bowling Center
One of the few buildings in the park that’s still being used as the Army intended, the Presidio Bowling Center is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Family-friendly features include pop-up lane bumpers; tasty food from the grill, including guilty-pleasure faves like curly fries and corn dogs; classic arcade games; and an Internet-connected jukebox. In addition to the extensive beer list, adults have something more to smile about: a new online reservation system! You can now pre-book 1 to 4 lanes up to a month in advance, without the cumbersome paper contracts. Have a birthday to plan? Ask about their party packages.

Presidio Bowling Center
93 Moraga Ave
San Francisco, Ca
415-561-2695
Online: presidiobowl.com

Strengthen, Stretch and Breathe Together at It’s Yoga, Kids
It’s Yoga, Kids is a family-centric yoga studio just inside the Lombard gate. It offers one of those rare opportunities to take care of yourself and your kiddo(s) at the same time. In a serene setting filled with natural light, it’s an ideal place to bond with your newborn through gentle movements, massage and songs. For kids that are already mobile (ages 2 to 9), family yoga classes introduce them to the healthy fun of yoga, with group and individual poses, breathing techniques and age-appropriate mindfulness practices. Check the website for the current schedule.

It’s Yoga, Kids
569 Ruger St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-750-9990
Online: itsyogakids.com

Climb the Walls with Your Little Monkeys at Planet Granite
Planet Granite’s 45-foot climbing walls certainly put on a show through the ground-to-roof windows overlooking Crissy Field. If your kiddo has been eyeing the scene with interest, sign up for a parent/child belay lesson. You’ll learn how to work the ropes to have them safely scrambling up the wall in no time. Bonus for parents: two Fridays a month, Planet Granite offers date night drop offs, so kids ages 6 to 13 can climb while you dine.

Planet Granite
924 Old Mason St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-692-3434
Online: planitegranitesf.com

Sing your Heart Out at Sports Basement
Breakfast with Enzo fills Sports Basement to the rafters with rollicking kid-song every Thursday and Friday morning. This has been a long-running event for good reason, as Enzo captivates both kids and caregivers. During the hour-long interactive performance, he deftly switching between the tools of his trade: banjo, harp, guitar, accordion, and the musical saw. The drop-in-anytime shows start at 10 and 11 a.m. Admission is $15 for the first kid and $10 per sibling over 6 months of age.

Sports Basement Presidio
610 Old Mason St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-437-0100
Online: sportsbasement.com

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A light sprinkle…

Learn to Ride with YBike
When you’re just starting out, riding a bike isn’t always “as easy as riding a bike.” The first Sunday of every month, the Presidio Y’s YBike team sets up a corral in the Main Post Parking lot to teach all-comers of all ages how to ride in safely and style. That includes adults! They even supply the bikes. You just need to bring your grit and determination. They’ll be there in a drizzle, but not a downpour, so check their Facebook page or for updates.

Presidio Main Post parking lot
Anza Blvd. at Owens St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-447-9622
Online: ybike.org

Encourage Growth at the Presidio Nursery
If you have a nature-lover or natural do-gooder in your house (or if you’d like to encourage those characteristics), the Presidio Nursery welcomes young volunteers every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. This ambitious nursery grows around 100,000 plants and trees a year, to restore native plant communities around the park. Depending on the season, volunteers are charged with collecting and cleaning native plant seeds, transplanting, pruning, weeding, and more. Drop-ins of all ages welcome (kids younger than 15 must have an adult chaperone), rain or shine. Wear long pants, close-toed shoes, and hats, and be prepared to get dirty!

Presidio Nursery
1249A Appleton St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-561-4826
Online: presidio.gov

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Photo: Charity Vargas Photography

Clear skies….

Join the Star Party at the Main Post Parade Ground
Watch those twinkling ‘diamonds in the sky’ come down to earth for your little ones, when the SF Amateur Astronomers bring their telescopes (many handmade) to the Presidio’s Main Post lawn. They patiently point stargazers to the most interesting celestial beauties on view that night. This event happens throughout the year, with the next one on February 13th at 6 p.m. As you would expect, poor visibility cancels.

Main Post Parade Ground
Near Anza Blvd. and Sheridan Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: sfaa-astronomy.org

Camp Under the Stars at Rob Hill Campground
Is your family up for an overnight adventure beneath the stars? Book a group campsite for up to 30 people, perched on a bluff above Baker Beach. Rob Hill’s clean and well-lighted bathrooms (sorry, no showers here) and urban location make it ideal for first-time campers. Hook the kids with the promise of silly camp songs, gooey marshmallows, and reading bedtime stories by flashlight. Each site includes a stand-up grill large enough to cook for a small army. A campfire circle is perfect for s’mores and keeping toes toasty after sunset. Reservations for spring and summer are available now. Check their site for details. Weekends are snapped up fast, so get your requests in early. Tip: If you don’t have your own tent, you can rent it nearby at Sports Basement Crissy Field.

Rob Hill Campground
1475 Central Magazine Rd
San Francisco, Ca
Online: presidio.gov

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Explore New Trails and Overlooks
If your family loves hikes with a view, check out the updated trails and new scenic overlooks leading to and from the Golden Gate Bridge. The Battery East overlook has one of the best views of the iconic International Orange beauty, plus picnic spots and a trail leading down to Crissy Field. Heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge from here, you can connect to a new section of the Coastal Trail, passing under the bridge along the way (not recommended for the noise-sensitive). Several newly paved parking lots are stationed along Lincoln Boulevard to the south and east of the bridge.

Online: parksconservancy.org

Getting There and Around

There is ample public parking in the city, including in the heart of the park at the Main Post. The hourly rate is reasonable by San Francisco standards, and you can park all day for $7. From the Main Post, you can walk to many attractions, or take the free PresidiGo Shuttles to hotspots in other areas of the park, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Field. If you’d prefer to leave the car at home, the Muni 43 bus makes frequent stops at the Transit Center in the Main Post, entering and exiting through the Lombard and Presidio gates. The Muni 29 stops at Baker Beach, where you can also catch the PresidiGo shuttle. See the Presidio’s transportation page for help in planning your travel.

What is your favorite thing to do in the Presidio on a rainy day? Tell us in the comments below! 

–Sarah Ordody