You’ve planned your dream San Diego trip, envisioning perfect weather. But what if it actually rains during your visit, especially in the winter or early spring? It’s always a good idea to have some rainy-day activities on your itinerary. Fortunately, San Diego offers plenty of options to enjoy even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
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Embrace Rainy-Day Activities
Even when it’s not raining, San Diego can have dreary skies, particularly during the months known as May Gray and June Gloom. This can make planning a beach vacation a bit tricky. But don’t worry, because there are still plenty of things to do in San Diego when it’s raining. From art museums to movie theaters, there’s something for everyone to experience.
Luxury Movie Theaters
San Diego is home to several upscale movie theaters that go beyond the standard strip mall experience. The Lot, with locations in La Jolla, Liberty Station, and Downtown San Diego, offers craft coffee, adult beverages, and delicious cuisine to enjoy before and during the films. Reclining seats and large screens make for a comfortable and immersive movie-watching experience. Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas Del Mar and UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley are also fantastic options with great amenities.
Luxury Bowling Alleys
If you’re looking to stay active while avoiding the rain, consider visiting one of San Diego’s high-end bowling alleys. Bowlero San Marcos provides a fun experience with well-kept lanes and tasty drinks. Punch Bowl Social in East Village offers more than just bowling, with creative beverages and a variety of activities to enjoy. Tavern+Bowl East Village and Break Point are also popular options that combine bowling with delicious food and drinks.
Indoor Ice Skating
Indoor ice rinks in San Diego allow you to enjoy the thrill of ice skating year-round. Check out UTC Ice, San Diego Ice Arena, and Kroc Center for some ice skating fun, regardless of the weather.
Indoor Rock Climbing
For a workout that challenges both your body and mind, indoor rock climbing is a great option. While you might miss the real outdoor experience, rock climbing centers like Grotto Climbing, Vertical Hold, and Mesa Rim Mission Valley offer a taste of the sport. Many of these centers offer day passes, so you can still enjoy the experience even if you’re not a member.
Fleet Science Center
The Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park is a gem for science lovers of all ages. With interactive exhibits designed to educate and spark curiosity, there’s something for everyone. Explore the Space Gallery, try the VR transporter, or head straight to Kid City for younger children. Don’t forget to catch a movie at the IMAX theater for a truly immersive experience.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Unleash your inner child at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, one of the largest and most impressive model railroad museums in North America. While some exhibits are outside, there are plenty of indoor attractions to keep you occupied. Explore the themed line and location categories, and marvel at the incredible attention to detail.
San Diego Natural History Museum
Founded in 1874, the San Diego Natural History Museum has been enlightening and entertaining visitors for generations. With exhibits on mineralogy, citizen scientists, and the evolution of whales, there’s plenty to discover. Admire the display of fossils and immerse yourself in the wonders of natural history.
Museum of Photographic Arts
San Diego’s breathtaking landscapes make it a dream destination for photographers. If you appreciate the art of photography, make sure to visit the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in Balboa Park. Experience the works of some of the world’s best photographers and cinematographers, including impressive displays created by children.
San Diego Automotive Museum
For transportation enthusiasts, the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park offers a close-up look at the history and future of motor vehicles. With a rotating collection that highlights various types of cars and motorcycles, there’s always something new to see.
San Diego Air & Space Museum
If you can’t get enough of aircraft, the San Diego Air & Space Museum is a must-visit. Home to the Apollo 9 Command Module and a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, this museum offers interactive options like a MaxFlight® simulator and an action hangar. Make sure to explore the outdoor flight deck and don’t miss the gift shop for some great souvenirs.
Mormon Battalion Historic Site
Regardless of your religious affiliation, the Mormon Battalion Historic Site is worth a visit. Take an interactive video tour to learn about the site’s historical significance, followed by gold panning demos and photo opportunities. While it may not take up much of your time, it’s a fascinating stop to add to your itinerary, especially if you’re already planning to visit Old Town San Diego.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Immerse yourself in the wonders of the underwater world at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. From seadragons and seahorses to sharks and kelp forests, every exhibit promises to fascinate. Don’t miss the Oddities exhibit, which showcases weird and wonderful sea creatures, as well as insights into oceanographic research.
Liberty Station Public Market
After a day of exploring museums, treat yourself to the culinary delights at Liberty Station Public Market. This food hall offers some of the city’s finest cuisine at wallet-friendly prices. If you’re up for a little rain, take a short stroll to discover excellent gift shops and galleries nearby.
Check Out Local Breweries
Instead of bar hopping in the Gaslamp District, why not visit some of San Diego’s renowned breweries? North Park Beer Co., Pour House Brewery, and Ballast Point are just a few examples of the excellent breweries in the area. Sample their brews and enjoy some delicious small plates or appetizers. You might find that the rain doesn’t bother you at all when you’re in good company with great beer.
USS Midway Museum
Take a stroll past the USS Midway Museum for a unique sight of a naval aircraft carrier against the backdrop of downtown San Diego. But don’t stop there—head inside to explore what life was like aboard this historic ship. Walk through the galley, sleeping quarters, engine room, and more, while listening to a guided tour. Don’t forget to check out the flight simulator, the holographic theater, and the outdoor flight deck, which truly bring the USS Midway to life.
Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla
Discover the fascinating world of cartography at the Map & Atlas Museum. With over 200 items spanning several centuries, this museum’s collection will give you a newfound appreciation for the power of maps and atlases. Check the museum’s hours before your visit, as it’s not open every day.
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Expand your horizons with a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Although it’s a relatively small museum, it features a wide range of thought-provoking works of art. Explore various 3D, photographic, and interactive exhibits that will leave a lasting impression. Make sure to check back regularly, as the exhibits change frequently.
Book a Spa Appointment
Take advantage of a rainy day to relax and rejuvenate at one of San Diego’s fantastic day spas. The Center For Wellbeing at Fairmont Grand Del Mar, The Spa at Torrey Pines, and The Spa at Estancia are just a few favorites located inside top hotels and resorts. Treat yourself to spa treatments, enjoy the lounging facilities, and indulge in delicious meals at the spa’s restaurants.
San Diego Zoo
Don’t let a little rain dampen your spirits at the San Diego Zoo. In fact, some people prefer visiting on rainy days because the crowds tend to thin out. Many animals also tend to be more active in cool and rainy weather. If the rain becomes too heavy, retreat to the 4D theater for a movie experience.
New Children’s Museum
If you’re visiting with kids and the zoo doesn’t appeal to you on a rainy day, the New Children’s Museum is a fantastic alternative. With a variety of interactive art installations, this museum will keep children entertained for hours while stimulating their senses. Don’t forget to explore the Innovators LAB for more indoor activities.
Discover a New Side of San Diego
Rain or shine, San Diego offers a multitude of activities that appeal to all types of vacationers. So go beyond the beach and embrace the rainy days. You just might discover hidden gems that become your favorite San Diego attractions.