12 Things to Do in San Diego When it Rains

It’s that time again…the rare rainy day (not so rare these days!) in San Diego.

We’ll spare you assorted clichés (see: “No one here can drive in the rain!” “Oh, we could really use this…” etc.) and just get down to brass tacks:

Whatever is one to do when this weather anomaly encroaches on our sunny territory?!

Well, settle in, hunker down, and grab that hot toddy because the rain is a-comin’, folks.

We’ll get through it, I swear.

However, in the meantime…let’s all just make a pact to let everyone merge equally on the freeway (Okay, ONE cliché. Just one).

Here are 12 great things to do in San Diego when it’s raining!

Dinner and a Movie

Speaking of clichés…they exist for a reason, and word to the wise—you should most definitely fully indulge the tried and true cliché of dinner and a movie, only elevated.

Hop on over to The Lot at Liberty Station or Cinepolis Del Mar for dinner and a movie in one of their luxury theaters.

I mean, if you haven’t watched a movie in a recliner while someone serves you a cocktail…you haven’t lived!

An added bonus at The Lot is the fact that you’re already at Liberty Station, which means your rainy day fun is just getting started (more below).

Warm Up With a Spot of Tea

Even if you’re not a regular tea drinker, there is something undeniably cozy about that little libation ritual.

While there are many coffee and tea houses in San Diego brewing up delicious elixirs, two of note that have fully embraced their roots (botanical pun intended) are Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Marlene’s Tea and Cakes.

Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe offers up the most authentically British afternoon tea in town, while Marlene’s offers a classic “high tea-esque” experience with a variety of house-made pastries and classic savory tea snacks.

Both would absolutely be a departure from the typical tea experience and the perfect way to up the cozy ante on your rainy San Diego day.

Challenge Your Friends to Classic Video Games…Loser Buys Drinks!

Everyone has that friend or two that you can count on to have a good time doing just about anything…this is the rainy day challenge for them!

San Diego has some amazingly fun arcades that are designed for us ‘big kids,’ which means you’ll have full bar service, great bar food, and sports on the TVs while you play!

Head to the Smoking Gun Arcade or Coin-Op for some classic Pac-man or pinball duels and crown a champion. If you want to add a little more competitive heat…loser buys drinks!

Commit to Cozy and Hunker Down in a Cabin!

If you have the opportunity, why not create some snug ambiance for you and yours and rent a little getaway space for a couple of days while it rains and pours?

Idyllwild is our favorite (click here to read our guide to a perfect road trip to Idyllwild). It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away—and fun fact—your chances of getting some snow up there when it’s raining in San Diego are pretty high due to its 6,000 foot elevation!

We have so many options, though—hit the road to Julian, Bear Mountain, or Mammoth!

They are all great, and you’ll feel like you’re in a different world for a while!

Treat Yo-Self to a Spa Day

Rainy days are the perfect permission slip to practice just a tiny bit more self-care than usual.

When doom and gloom abound, why not indulge in a sunny new manicure from Hello Birdie Nail & Lash Lab in North Park, or fully lean in and get a facial or massage at Urban Calm downtown?

Visit a Distillery or Brewery and Commit!

San Diego is known for being a mainstay in the brewing community. However, the bounty of quality distilleries here in our fair city is something surely noteworthy, and it’s only growing.

One not to be missed is You & Yours Distilling in East Village.

Whatever your preconceived notions of Gin may be, we strongly urge you to ditch them at the door and sample something truly amazing. Laura, the founder of You & Yours, makes a Gin (several, actually) that will blow your mind!

If that doesn’t seal the deal for you, pay a visit to the new Societe Brewing tasting room in the Old Town Corral—this place is so cool!

Either way, pick a distillery or brewery and commit to staying and enjoying one or two more than normal…it’s a special day, after all!

Grab a Bowl of Something Seriously Comforting: Ramen

While the prospect of whipping up a fully from scratch artisan soup with the flick of a wrist sounds all too optimal, there comes a time to call a spade a spade and make your load just a little bit lighter—a rainy day being the perfect occasion to do so.

This being the case, grab yourself a bowl of the soup-hug equivalent: ramen.

Raki-Raki is a favorite, with a seriously delicious offering of ramen, sushi, curry, and more. But wow, the options we have for good ramen in San Diego just keep getting better—so enjoy exploring!

Old Indoor Reliable: Birch Aquarium

There’s something inherently dreamy and gloomy-weather appropriate about being in a moody underwater setting. The Birch Aquarium in La Jolla is the perfect spot to go kiddos-in-tow or not and see some seriously stunning sea life.

Peruse Something Fun, and Maybe Even Buy It

What better rainy day activity is there than endlessly sifting through vintage merchandise? I can think of few.

Maybe this isn’t your bag, but shopping for vintage treasures is, at the very least, a conversation piece. Whether you’re commenting to your significant other about some seriously laughable album art or sternly haggling over the price of a new dinette set, anyone can get in on the pre-owned glory.

Some notable favorites include Folk Arts Rare Records, Verbatim Books, and Midcentury—all located in North Park.

Make a rainy day of it!

Hit a Museum

A rainy day is a perfect opportunity to take a leisurely, educational stroll through one of San Diego’s fantastic museums!

Whether it’s exploring the inner workings of the Midway or taking in one (or several!) of Balboa Park’s many museums, you can’t go wrong.

Think you’ve seen them all already? We bet you haven’t been to all of the museums represented by the San Diego Museum Council—check out their directory of San Diego museums and pick one.

And if you happen to be reading this in February—SCORE!—it’s San Diego Museum Month, and you’re going to save 50% on admission!

Wander Around the Market, Beer in Hand!

We LOVE Liberty Public Market, and it’s quite possibly the perfect place in San Diego to spend a rainy day! Grab a beer at Bottlecraft and wander the aisles of incredible food and products from local merchants.

Take your time…it’s still raining outside.

Go Climb a Rock

San Diego has some great indoor rock-climbing facilities to check out!

Mesa Rim is a standout, with multiple beautiful facilities in San Diego that have a variety of options to keep everyone having fun while getting a great workout.

And no, you don’t have to be an experienced climber to go have fun—you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn and to challenge yourself no matter your level of fitness or experience.

Release Your Inner Formula One Driver

You feel the need. The need for speed!

Nothing will get the competitive juices flowing like a race with friends, and everyone has ‘that friend’ that thinks they are the best driver in the world (or tells you they’ve never raced before…then smokes you!).

Grab them and head to K1Speed, and finally determine who is ACTUALLY the best driver!

Do an East Coast-Style ‘Hunker Down’!

When a Nor’easter rolls into Boston or New York, it can only mean one thing:

A day of ‘hunkering’ down at the bar!

Well, they shouldn’t get to have all the fun!

Pick one of the great San Diego hole-in-the-wall bars on our list, grab some friends, and make a day of doing absolutely nothing productive! You deserve it!

See you there!

Rain or shine, the plethora of fun to be had here in San Diego is not to be stopped. A little rain won’t hurt you!

Get out there and enjoy your rainy days!

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