My sister was lucky; in her visit, we had exactly one cloudy, rainy day. It was the longest stretch of nice weather that I can remember! When it's nice in Rio, there's plenty to do:
Hike in the Floresta Nacional da Tijuca or on the trail in Urca across from Pão de Açucar. The Tijuca park is full of waterfalls; bring your swimsuit!
Brave the crowds for all those tourismy things. Try NOT to have your butt grabbed by frisky Indian ladies (like we did). One suggestion: do the trails around Pão de Açucar, which are usually less crowded as the big groups have a limited time on their tours, and hang out long enough for the little monkeys to show up and play. We got some great photos!
Beach, beach and more beach. We didn't take pictures here, though. I *did* have to dig a hole for my baby belly so I could get a little sun on my back!
When it rains, though, it can be hard to think of things to do. Here are a few suggestions:
Find a supermarket and stock up on unusual food gifts to take home. Tang and other bad-for-you-artificially-sweetened beverage packets often come in Brazilian fruit flavors that you'll never find in anywhere else. Try jabuticaba, graviola, cupuaçu, acerola, pitanga, cajú and cajá...unlike the actual fruits, these should be Customs friendly! Pão de queijo mix is another favorite, and if you can find it, Queensberry's Manga-Cupuaçu jam, which I give as gifts on almost every trip. It's getting a bit rare though, so if you find a store that is stocking, please let me know! Coffee is another gift that's appreciated by our friends and family. Some of the specialty ones in the supermarket are actually pretty good but if you feel like splurging, pick up something from Armazén do Café. Our favorite is the Valsa. While I'm not the biggest fan of Brazilian chocolate, the big bars with cashews (cajú) are a hit, and you can't go wrong with cashews and Brazil nuts (castanha-do-pará) as well. The cookie and snack aisles are full of exotic treats, or at least, unusual flavors.
Rainy days are good for shopping, in general. There's always Havaianas stores for all your flip-flop needs. Used books and CDs can be found at Berinjela on Avenida Rio Branco. I can't remember the number, but it's in the subsolo of a building across from the Carioca subway stop with a huge spiraling ramp leading down...Leonardo da Vinci bookstore is also here, which is packed with gorgeous but costly volumes in just about any language you could want. LEGEP in Recreio or the Shop dos Cristais in São Cristovão are places to buy carved birds, marble coasters and all things rock and mineral-like.
Of course, my favorite rainy day activity is just what we did on our last day, when the skies drizzled non-stop. We made chocolate chip cookies, drank tea on the porch and read books. It was perfect!