San Diego on a Rainy Day

It’s difficult to think of all that many places in the United States more beloved for their beautiful weather than San Diego. Year in and year out, no matter the season, people flock to San Diego from all over the world to experience the city’s sun and sand for themselves. When we think of San Diego, in fact, that’s quite often what comes to mind first: sun, sand, and smiles.

Alas, nothing in life is perfect, and even in San Diego a little rain must fall from time to time. And so the question comes to mind: what to do when you find yourself visiting San Diego on a rainy day? Fear not, there’s still much to do in San Diego on a day when the weather is not your friend. Keep reading for a list of some suitable solutions to this rainy-day riddle.

San Diego Natural History Museum

Lovingly referred to by locals as “The Nat,” the San Diego Natural History Museum is every bit as neat of a place as you would expect a museum with a hip nickname to be. There’s so much to experience at The Nat that it’s likely you’ll struggle to decide where to begin your adventure, but when in doubt, follow this simple rule and you’ll be just fine: Dinosaurs. That’s right, the San Diego Natural History Museum is home to some wonderful dinosaur-centric exhibits. These include Fossil Mysteries—which catalogs a staggering 75 million years’ worth of locally discovered remains—and a prominently displayed Allosaurus fragilis skeleton fondly known as “Al.” Al would have been a cousin of the mighty T. rex, so yeah, he’s pretty cool.

Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps (helpful shorthand for the “Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego”) will help you shake your rainy-day blues in no time at all. Over 5,000 different sea creatures, spread out across nearly 60 unique exhibits, call this charming facility home. It’s impossible in this short space here to describe everything there is to discover at Birch Aquarium, but some favorite attractions would have to be Tidepool Plaza, Shark Shores, and the Giant Kelp Forest exhibit, a two-story, 70,000-gallon tank that lets you experience these “underwater forests” like never before. Not only does Birch Aquarium make for a great visit, but its remarkable physical setting gifts it with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and La Jolla.

USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway Museum is housed on the retired aircraft carrier Midway, which means that parts of the museum experience here are located outside. “Wait, what?” you’re asking right about now, operating as you are under the belief that this article is about rainy-day suggestions. Hear me out, though, as there’s a certain method to the madness of suggesting visiting the USS Midway Museum on a rainy day. The USS Midway Museum is one of San Diego’s most popular attractions—it’s more often than not a really busy place. However, since some of the museum is located outside, that’s liable to scare away guests on a day when the weather is a bit crummier. Yet a great deal of the USS Midway Museum’s exhibits—features like the Hangar Deck and Below Deck exhibits—are found indoors. So, if you aren’t afraid of a little bit of rain, you can enjoy this fine attraction and all it has to offer while also beating the crowds—all by visiting on a rainy day!

Fleet Science Center

Just because the weather outside is not cooperating, that doesn’t mean you and the kids will be prevented from “being active” on a rainy day in San Diego. That’s because a terrific place to visit in San Diego is the Fleet Science Center. This popular attraction is full of interactive marvels that’ll cheer up any one feeling blue at the prospect of not being able to run around the beach all day. Take in a movie at the Giant Dome IMAX Theater, prepare to be an astronaut at the Space Gallery’s Off-World Training Base, learn about the power of water in the San Diego’s Water: From Source to Tap exhibit, and inhabit an alternate reality with the Pulseworks Virtual Reality Transporter ride.

San Diego Museum of Art

The heart of the matter is that the San Diego Museum of Art is well worth your time regardless of the weather outside, but if you can slot it into your schedule on a day when outdoor conditions are less-than ideal, then that’s even better. The San Diego Museum of Art’s permanent collection alone is reason even to visit, as it contains works by brilliant artists as diverse as Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, El Greco, and Henri Matisse. Beyond those fine holdings, though, the San Diego Museum of Art regularly hosts live performances, educational events, and special exhibits from all over the world. Whether you’ve got an hour to kill, or desire to spend an entire afternoon losing yourself in the power of art, this San Diego attraction is for you.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Air & Space Museum makes for a great place to spend the day—and, if we’re being honest, that’s true whether it’s raining outside or not! Here you’ll find all sorts of educational exhibits and cultural artifacts pertaining to the history of flight. The museum’s collection of historic airplanes and space craft is second to none, and includes highlights like a replica of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 9 command module Gumdrop, and multiple reproductions of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s early experimental gliders. In addition to these treasures, visitors can enjoy touring an assortment of rotating special exhibits, as well as grab a bite to eat at the tasty Flight Path Grill.