What to Do in San Diego When It Rains

san diego california rain storm weather
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You’ve traveled to San Diego hoping for a sunny vacation full of beaches, outdoor parks and activities. But when you get there, it’s raining. What to do?

Luckily, there are plenty of indoor things to do in San Diego. Here are a few of them.


San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park is a great sunny day activity, and it’s also filled with indoor museums, making it a great place to also visit in the rain. There are 17 different museums inside the park, covering everything from art to science to history. Don’t miss the hidden San Diego Model Railroad Museum with exhibitions set up by several local model railroad clubs.

san diego california model train museum balboa park
Courtesy of Mary Lang

Outside the park, there's the New Children's Museum downtown, the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, and the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad.

Head to a Theater

San Diego has an often undervalued theater scene, with shows at La Jolla Playhouse or the Old Globe that regularly make it to Broadway. If movies are more your style, check out luxury movie theatres The Lot and Cinépolis where you can order gourmet food and watch a movie from a reclining chair.

Bars With Games

The bar Coin-Op had the revolutionary idea to combine cocktails with old school video games. You can sip a mule or old fashioned while playing pinball, Buck Hunter, X-Men or Packman at its locations in North Park or the Gaslamp.

san diego california coin op bar arcade
Courtesy of Coin-Op

Also try Coin Haus in La Mesa. Other bars with classic games include Polite Provisions with its coloring books, Whistle Stop with board games and Triple Crown Pub with ping pong, shuffleboard, and foosball.

The local science museum also runs a recurring event called “Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar” where you can chat with local scientists and ask them all your “I’ve always wondered why” questions.

See a Concert

You can also try catching a live show at venues such as The Casbah, Belly Up, House of Blues and The Observatory North Park. Bars such as Soda Bar, Tin Roof and Seven Grand also regularly have live music. Or try live piano bars like The Shout! House and Red Fox Steakhouse where you can sing along.

Beer Tasting

San Diego has more than 150 local craft breweries spread throughout the city, so you won’t run out of options. It even has companies like Brew Hop that serve as brewery tour guides.

san diego california coronado brewing company beer
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Some breweries are bars that are extra great on a rainy day: Stone Brewing with multiple rooms to explore, and Coronado Brewing with a cozy fireplace.

Outdoor Activities You Can Do Inside

You can try rock climbing indoors at Vertical Hold, sky dive inside at iFly San Diego, and still get your swimming fix at indoor pools including the Copley-Price Family YMCA and The Plunge. Even though it might not make you think of a beach town, you can also try ice skating at the Westfield UTC mall.


Many of San Diego’s malls are outdoors, but if you don’t mind dodging raindrops or using an umbrella you can dash from store to store. If you don’t want to get wet at all, the Westfield mall in Carlsbad is covered. Also try neighborhoods such as Normal Heights, La Jolla, and South Park for boutiques where you can shop indoors.

The newly-opened Liberty Public Market is also a good spot for shopping and eating from local restaurants and artisans.

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