Things to Do When it Rains in San Diego

Believe it or not, it’s not always sunny in San Diego. On those rare instances when it rains in America’s Finest City, locals and visitors may find themselves at a loss on what to do for fun. After all, what’s a day without the beach? Here’s a round-up of activities you can enjoy in San Diego on a rainy day – or, really, any day for that matter.

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San Diego Museum of Art/Bauman Photographers
Sure, an outdoor stroll in Balboa Park is a truly unforgettable San Diego experience, but there are plenty of indoor activities to take in at the landmark as well. Balboa Park is home to 15 major museums, including the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the San Diego History Center and the San Diego Museum of Art, just to name a few. Most museums are open daily, many beginning at 10 a.m. Check each one individually for specific days and hours of operation.
THE LOT at Liberty Station
There’s nothing like curling up to watch a movie on a rainy day. While going to the traditional movie theater is always a good option, you can also treat yourself to an elevated experience by visiting one of the luxury theaters around San Diego County. There’s The Lot at Liberty Station or in La Jolla, which features leather recliners and in-theater dining options. Over in Del Mar, locals love Cinepolis, which features 11 auditoriums, 713 seats and tasty cocktails served in select auditoriums. In downtown San Diego, movie buffs can check out Theatre Box, the brand-new, swanky entertainment complex on 5th Avenue that boasts a dine-in movie theater, a restaurant and club in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.
Monica Garske
Liberty Public Market, located at 2816 Decatur Rd. in Liberty Station, opened in March 2016. The 25,000-square-foot marketplace features more than 30 vendors selling interesting eats and, in its three years in business, has grown into a food emporium. You could easily spend an entire day browsing the vendors at this marketplace or enjoy lunch or a craft brew at the communal indoor dining area known as Mess Hall. If the rain lets up while you’re there, grab a seat on the patio and enjoy your food outside. Otherwise, there is seating inside. While you’re walking around, you’ll catch traces of the history held in the walls of the building. The warehouse-style venue was originally built as the Naval Training Center’s commissary in 1921. Some U.S. Navy art still covers the walls -- a reminder of its roots. The food hall is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but vendors' individual hours may vary.
The New Children's Museum
Help the kids get their rainy day energy out by letting them run around at the New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego (200 West Island Ave.), a colorful space designed to stimulate young minds. The three-story, 50,000-square-foot building has plenty of space for thought-provoking, engaging activities, exhibits and art. It’s open every day but Tuesday.
More than 430,000 people visit the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (2300 Expedition Way) in La Jolla every year to learn about the science of the ocean and ocean conservation. The site features a host of educational exhibits, including “Hall of Fishes” – more than 60 tanks of Pacific fishes and in invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and the Caribbean. Grab the family (or the out-of-towners) and explore the sea on dry land.
Monica Garske
Well, you’re in San Diego, so a visit to a craft brewery should probably be on your agenda at some point. On a rainy day, you could grab a brew at one of dozens of local breweries around the county and hang out with friends or the family. Many breweries boast a collection of board games to keep patrons entertained and you could pack some snacks and make a day of it. If you don’t know which brewery to visit, the San Diego Brewers Guild website is a good place to start. It lists every member of the guild in San Diego, plus details on the types of beers brewing at different locations. Please, drink responsibly and use ride-sharing services so you’re not drinking and driving.
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The first of the 21 great California Missions, the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala is definitely worth a visit. Nestled at 10818 San Diego Mission Rd., the mission church has a visitor’s center and gift shop that is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mass is held daily at the historic site as well, at 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, and at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. On Sundays, mass is held on the hour from 7 a.m. to noon, and again at 5:30 p.m. The Mission Basilica was founded in 1769 and represents more than two centuries of California history.
Vertical Hold/Instagram
Missing that outdoor exercise session on a rainy day? Perhaps it’s time to try indoor rock climbing. There are plenty of climbing gyms in San Diego from which to choose, including Vertical Hold ($19 for a day pass, $7 for a gear package rental) with locations in San Diego, Poway and San Marcos, or Mesa Rim Climbing & Fitness Center with locations in Mira Mesa and Mission Valley.
Hotel Del Coronado
Built in 1888, Hotel Del Coronado is a designated National Historic Landmark right on the beach on Coronado Island. Of course, it’s best enjoyed when you can actually explore the beach on which the hotel sits, but there are lots of things to do inside the massive property, too. The resort boasts many restaurants, shops and hallways chock-full of history, including display cases with large, vintage photographs and artifacts. It’s worth a stroll on a rainy day, that’s for sure.
iFly Indoor Skydiving
Ever dream of skydiving without the actual sky part? Oh, it’s possible. iFly Indoor Skydiving (2385 Camino Del Rio North) in Mission Valley and Oceanside (3178 Vista Way) offers the airborne experience, indoors, in a safe, controlled space. First-time flyer packages start at $79.95 per person. The business is open daily.
K1 Speed/Instagram
If you like driving – just not in the rain – you could fulfill that need for speed at an indoor go-kart speedway such as K1 Speed tracks in San Diego (1709 Main St.) or Carlsbad (6212 Corte del Abeto). Open to adults and kids 48 inches and taller, the go-kart facility offers something called “Arrive & Drive” where you can show up, pay your entry fee and hit the track. Prices start at $22 for one race, or, if you’d rather compete in a race, you can upgrade to a $55 pass that includes two races, a T-shirt and a membership to the track.
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