While San Diego is typically sunny and temperate year round, it does get its share of rain on occasion.
If any of those rainy or gloomy days happen to pop up on your vacation, don’t worry! There are plenty of fun indoor activities and things to do in San Diego when it rains, from museums to aquariums and more.
Looking for some fun things to do indoors?
Admission to a bunch of the below activities is available on the Go San Diego® Card.
Choose as you go from a number of fun attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
A few of the available activities include…
- Balboa Park Museums
- USS Midway Museum
- Birch Aquarium
- The New Children’s Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- And more!
San Diego Air & Space Museum
Fans of science, and particular of the history of flight, will want to make sure not to miss out on a chance to visit this Balboa Park mainstay. The Air & Space Museum is one of the best of its kind in the country, reflecting San Diego’s naval heritage and the important role its place in the development of flight across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Of course, the history of space flight spans much further back than the 1900s – which you’ll learn after a visit to this exciting museum. See the actual balloon flown by the Montgolfier Brothers in 1783, Wright-era aircraft, navy bombers, and even the Apollo XI Space Pen.
There’s so much to explore at this attraction that you’ll forget all about the sunshine and outdoors.
Getting In: Admission to the San Diego Air & Space Museum is included with the Go San Diego® Card.
San Diego Natural History Museum
Another Balboa Park favorite, the Natural History Museum is filled with exhibits and artifacts that showcase the natural history of Southern California.
Five floors filled with dozens of inspiring, interactive exhibits house everything from gigantic dinosaur bones to tiny gemstones.
You’ll also get the chance to watch a selected film at the museum’s own theatre, with films offered on topics such as “Ocean Oasis” and “Wild Africa.”
Don’t miss out on the chance to take the whole family to theNAT!
Getting In: Admission to the San Diego Natural History Museum is included with the Go San Diego® Card.
USS Midway Museum
This is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and it’s a great rainy day option because you’ll probably beat many crowds by visiting on a less than sunny day.
The inside of this amazing retired aircraft carrier is fascinating for military buffs of all ages, with areas like crew sleeping quarters and the flight control deck available for touring.
Visitors will learn all about the history of this iconic craft and her 50-year service, which spanned several wars and multiple campaigns.
Keep in mind that parts of this attraction are outdoors, so be prepared for a little bit of weather.
Getting In: Admission to the USS Midway Museum is included with the Go San Diego® Card.
If the animal lovers in your life are down about missing the San Diego Zoo on their rainy day, then be sure to take them to the delightful Birch Aquarium for a chance to encounter some pretty fascinating wildlife even in bad weather.
Explore an extensive variety of marine habitats and informative exhibits, including topics like “Boundless Energy,” “Wonders of Water,” and “Live Tide Pools.” There are also exhibits organized around specific types of marine life, such as “There’s Something About Seahorses” and the popular “Hall of Fishes and Shark Reef.”
Plus, you’ll get an amazing view of the water from inside the aquarium – a great chance for stunning coastline photos without worrying about getting wet.
Getting In: Admission to the Birch Aquarium is included with the Go San Diego® Card.
Fans of the Birch Aquarium may also find the Living Coast Discovery Center of interest, which is located south of San Diego and is also included with the Go San Diego® Card.
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
This amazing scientific complex is not to be missed by those with an interest in the natural world or technology.
The Fleet Science Center is filled with interactive exhibits, displays, and programs that allow visitors to make the most of their learning experience. Try out the Tinkering Studio for a chance to make your own great invention, or stroll through the “Origins in Space” exhibit, which allows you to peek at the latest image from the Hubble Space Telescope.
It’s also home to the first IMAX dome theater, so you’ll be sure to use that complimentary IMAX ticket that comes with Go Card admission!
Getting In: Admission to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center plus tickets to an IMAX Film are included with the Go San Diego® Card.
More Balboa Park Museums
Of course, there are plenty more museums in Balboa Park to choose from. Whether you’re interested in the history of human civilization, or just love to look at old cars, there’s something for you to explore.
One of our favorites is the San Diego Museum of Man, which provides an excellent study of man’s history through art, anthropology, archaeology, and much more. Others will get a kick out of the Automotive Museum and the Model Railroad Museum, which are just perfect for collectors and excited kids.
The best part is, a few of them relatively close together so you aren’t getting soaking in transit. If you’re looking to explore museums that are further apart, take advantage of the free Balboa Park tram to get around.
If you prefer artwork to automobiles, there are many opportunities for you to enjoy as well. Indulge your creative side with a visit to one of the region’s many art museums, each with different strengths and foci.
For example, Balboa Park’s San Diego Museum of Art is the most traditional, featuring all of your favorite genres such as paintings, sculptures, and craftwork. The Museum of Photographic Arts, however, is more focused on its namesake, and features some truly compelling examples of the genre. If modern art is more your thing, then a trip to La Jolla is in order to scope out their fantastic contemporary collections.
Art lovers may also enjoy the San Diego Art Institute, also located in Balboa Park and included with the Go San Diego® Card.
New Children’s Museum
Families know that sometimes the hardest part of traveling in bad weather with kids is the lack of opportunities for them to really get out and burn off some energy.
That’s where the New Children’s Museum comes in. This exciting and totally interactive museum offers dozens of exhibits and themed areas for children to explore, climb, play, and create.
With a particular focus on the inspiring potential of art, this museum offers plenty of chances for kids to express themselves through creativity, whether that’s by crafting their own sculptures or through participating in guided art-making activities.
Getting In: Admission to the New Children’s Museum is included with the Go San Diego® Card.
Many visitors forget that San Diego is a city with a ton of history. With American roots stretching back to the mid-nineteenth-century, you shouldn’t be surprised to come across historical homes that date all the way back to California’s debut as a state.
That’s why a visit to the lovely Whaley House is in order. Built by San Diego pioneer Thomas Whaley, this house first served as his family home before later being used as a general store, a theater, and even the San Diego County Courthouse.
Getting In: Admission to the Whaley House is included with the Go San Diego® Card.
Another fun historical option for indoors fun is the William Heath Davis House, admission to which is also included with the Go San Diego® Card.
Mingei International Museum
This globally-focused institution tells the history of humanity’s relationship with art, and the ways in which our artistic works impact our culture.
You’ll see art and artifacts from around the globe and throughout history, although the collections have particular strengths in African and Japanese Art, contemporary American craftwork, and pre-Columbian artifacts.
Of course, with 26,000 objects in their collections, it’s clear that they represent a little bit of just about everything.
Getting In: Admission to the Mingei International Museum is included with the Go San Diego® Card.
Quick Rainy Day Recap
So if you’re in search of some ways to spend some time indoors and things to do in San Diego when it rains, we hope we’ve given you plenty of attractions and activities to choose from.
There are, of course, plenty of other options too, such as shopping in fun downtown areas like Seaport Village, taking in a theatrical performance, or exploring the local cuisine. Get more ideas from our post on things to do in San Diego besides the beach.