San Diego isn't exactly known for rain, so a rainy day on your California vacation might seem disappointing at first glance. After all, how many times were you told: "It never rains in Southern California!" Regardless, it's not the end of the world to head indoors. And luckily, from museums to indoor day trips, San Diego still has plenty of fun things to do a soggy day. Here are our 12 favorites.
Visit the Birch Aquarium
La Jolla's fascinating Birch Aquarium is a great place to get out of the rain. While it's not as big as some other California aquariums, the Birch has a remarkable range of exhibits, including extensive seahorses on display and a massive exhibition dedicated to the Pacific Ocean, featuring more than 60 different habitats. There are also daily feedings in the various exhibits.
Get Spooked at a Haunted House
If you thought haunted houses were just for Halloween, think again. San Diego is home to the spiritous and spooky Whaley House, near Old Town. This 19th-century Greek Revival home has been called the most haunted home in America and is said to be home to many spirits or ghosts from the Whaley family, who built the house. For hours and tour information visit their website.
Enjoy a Cup of Afternoon Tea
If the weather outside resembles the damp gloominess that England is known for, why not embrace it with a cuppa? This quintessentially English tradition is alive and well in San Diego and makes for an excellent activity for a rainy afternoon. The most charming experience is Escondido's Grand Tea Room, where the cozy tea salon is decorated with antiques and plenty of lace. Tea options include a simple cup of tea and a light lunch to a two-hour Grand Tea, a great way to spend an afternoon. The latter comes with fruit, fresh scones, tea sandwiches, and pastries, and of course, more than 40 different kinds of loose-leaf tea.
Ice Skate Year-Round
UTC Ice is located inside the Westfield UTC Shopping Centre, which means you can catch a movie at Arclight theater or grab a bite to eat before or after your skating session.
Skydive Indoors at iFLY
If you've always wanted to try skydiving but were too afraid, give it a go on a rainy day! At iFLY, you can experience the sensation and the freedom of skydiving in a completely safe, indoor environment. The bodyflight experience replicates skydiving freefalls from 12,000 feet, but all ages and ability levels can try it. Get more information at the iFly website.
Get a Workout at an Indoor Rock-Climbing Wall
Instead of climbing the walls in your hotel out of boredom, try a climbing rock wall at Vertical Hold. The friendly staff can teach beginners how to get started, but the gym is also well-equipped for experienced climbers to get a great workout too, with equipment for top roping, lead climbing, bouldering, and more.
Drink Beer at a Microbrewery
San Diego's craft-brewing scene is booming, with literally hundreds of breweries churning out unique beers. While rain, beer, and driving don't mix, you can still taste plenty of these new brews on a brewery tour. Brewery Tours of San Diego offers both public and private tours that include transportation, tours, tastings, and in some cases, even a snack or two.
Visit the San Diego Maritime Museum
Since 1948, the San Diego Maritime Museum has preserved one of the country's most extensive collections of historical, seagoing vessels. Today, the collection includes 10 different ships, ranging from the world's oldest active sailing ship to the USS Dolphin, the deepest-diving submarine in the world. When the weather's nice, museum guests can head on for an on-the-water adventure on one of the museum's famed ships.
Tour the USS Midway
Beat the crowds by visiting the popular USS Midway on a rainy day. This historic retired aircraft carrier is open to the public to explore; you can see the crew sleeping quarters and even the engine room. The flight deck is home to 20 different aircraft.
Go See a Concert
San Diego has no shortage of entertainment venues where you can listen to live music. The Casbah, in downtown, is a long-time favorite, but a few bars get in on the action too, with the unpretentious Soda Bar bringing in local indie bands a few nights each week. Want to sing along? Try a live piano bar, like the charmingly retro Red Fox Steakhouse.
Take a Trolley Tour
Hop on one of San Diego's Old Town Trolley Tours to see a lot of the city from the comfort of a warm, dry trolley. These tours leave from Old Town, covering some of San Diego's most well-known landmarks, like the Embarcadero Marina and the Gaslamp Quarter. They're also hop-on, hop-off, which means you can jump off if you spy a shop or museum that looks interesting.
Gamble at a Casino
You might think of Las Vegas rather than San Diego when someone mentions gambling, but California has its share of casinos too, all of them on Native American land.
You'll find plenty of casinos within driving distance of San Diego, but the best is the Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino, with a beautiful hotel on the grounds and a wide variety of different table games.