In a city like San Diego, coveted for its near-perfect weather, you wouldn’t expect to find yourself searching for the best indoor activities.
However, the city gets the occasional rainy day here or there, making swims at the beach or strolls around the Gaslamp Quarter not so pleasant.
Wet weather can stop both San Diegans and visitors in their tracks, but there’s a surprising amount of things to do in San Diego when it rains.
From trips to an indoor ice rink to afternoons in one of the city’s beloved museums, there’s lots of things to do in San Diego on a rainy day.
Read on for some of the best indoor activities in San Diego for both kids and adults.
Indoor Activities In San Diego For Adults
USS Midway Museum
Address: 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 544-9600
One of the coolest things to do in the city is the USS Midway Museum.
A museum set on a former aircraft carrier, the USS Midway houses numerous retired airplanes, which you can explore as part of a guided or audio tour.
You can also hop on a flight simulator to try out a take-off for yourself, or catch a short movie detailing the Battle of Midway.
The museum is located in downtown San Diego. You can spend around three hours here between 10 AM and 5 PM, with the last entry at 4 PM.
San Diego Museum Of Art
Address: 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92102
Phone: (619) 232-7931
With numerous museums in Balboa Park, you’ll never be short of indoor things to do in San Diego.
Art enthusiasts will keep busy for a few hours at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Wander past incredible paintings, sculptures, and drawings dating back to the Renaissance, or explore the museum’s contemporary collections.
You’ll spot the work of big-name artists such as Monet and Rembrandt here, as well as up-and-coming artists.
You can visit before 5 pm any day except for Wednesdays.
San Diego Air Space Museum
Address: 2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 234-8291
Another Balboa Park favorite, the San Diego Air Space Museum, is a treasure trove for anyone with an interest in aviation and space.
With a nice mix of aircraft and spacecraft collections, film archives, artifacts, and revolving exhibits, each visit will always be a little different.
There’s so much to see, you could easily spend a day here.
At the very least you’ll need a few hours to see the highlights, like the Apollo 9 command module and the flight simulator.
Come for a visit any day between 10 am and 4:30 pm.
Indoor Rock Climbing
Thrill seekers don’t need the weather to cooperate for their next adventure fix, simply hit one of San Diego’s indoor rock climbing arenas.
Don’t worry if you’re new to rock climbing, as most gyms offer lessons for first-timers to ensure you feel safe and confident climbing and belaying.
You can work your way up to more challenging climbs or stick to shorter walls if you’re feeling a little nervous.
Address: 2131 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 546-9073
Comic book collectors won’t want to skip this one!
You’ll find lots of interactive presentations at the Comic-Con Museum, bringing all the classic comic books, fantasy movies, TV shows, and video games to life.
Get the chance to see plenty of exciting displays like Spiderman, Superman, Star Trek, and much more.
Situated in Balboa Park, the Comic-Con Museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Looking for more Comic-Con activities? Check out these Top Comic-Con San Diego Attractions.
Visit A Brewery
Escape the downpours with one of the finest indoor activities to do in San Diego, an informative and tasty brewery tour.
This is a city with a huge range of brewhouses, so you’ll have your pick of tours and tastings.
Ballast Point, Stone Brewing Co., and Karl Strauss Brewing Company are among the top spots in San Diego.
Here you can get the low-down on how each beer is brewed, and see behind-the-scenes of the entire process.
Liberty Station Public Market
Address: 2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
Phone: (619) 487-9346
In the Point Loma area and seeking shelter from the rain? The Liberty Station market will be just what you’re looking for.
Not only can you find some mouthwatering bites, but you can also do some shopping and browse handmade jewelry or artwork.
If that wasn’t enough, exercise classes, potter-making, and nail salons are also on the agenda.
Liberty Station market opens between 11 am and 8 pm every day of the week, but individual business hours vary.
Pamper Yourself At A Spa
San Diego has a lengthy list of spas to help you destress when the weather interferes with your plans.
You’ll find top-tier spas in every corner of the city, so there’s no need to fret if your hotel doesn’t offer a spa on-site.
If you’re in the downtown area, unwind with a facial or massage in renowned spots like the spa at the Pendry Hotel or Girl On The Go in Golden Hill.
As there’s an extensive range of spas in San Diego, you should be able to snag a last-minute appointment pretty easily.
For some of the best spas in San Diego, check out our guide Top Spas In San Diego.
Indoor Skydiving at iFly
Address: Multiple Locations
Get your adrenaline flowing with an exhilarating indoor skydive.
With locations in Mission Valley and Oceanside, iFly offers visitors a chance to experience skydiving no matter the weather.
Newbies will undergo a training session first, while experienced guests can join an instructor for higher and faster flights. Trust us, these will make for a true thrill.
The Oceanside branch opens every day, while Mission Valley is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Mormon Battalion Historic Site
Address: 2510 Juan St, San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: (619) 298-3317
History buffs will love the Mormon Battalion Historic Site.
The Mormon Battalion was a group of Latter-Day Saint members who fought in the U.S. military during the 1800s.
This site recounts their contribution to the country during this time through engaging presentations and gold-panning activities.
Although this historic site is open until 7 pm, opening times vary by day, so be sure to double-check before your visit.
You’ll find this landmark in Old Town.
Indoor Activities In San Diego For Kids
San Diego Natural History Museum
Address: 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 232-3821
An exciting indoor activity in San Diego for all ages is the Natural History Museum, one of Balboa Park’s top attractions.
Set aside around three hours to see the best of this jam-packed museum.
The Natural History Museum features a ton of fascinating exhibitions, including impressive fossil collections, an exploration of the habitats and wildlife in Southern California, replicas of extinct animals, and so much more!
Kids can enter free of charge during October, while residents have free entry on the first Tuesday of every month.
Model Railroad Museum
Address: 1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 696-0199
Next, we’re staying in Balboa Park and heading to the Model Railroad Museum.
If you or your little ones have a keen interest in trains, this is a can’t-miss indoor activity regardless of the rain!
Retelling the history of railroads in California, spend an hour or two learning about the development of trains in the region through scale models and memorabilia.
There’s even a scavenger hunt and play area to keep the kids busy.
The Model Railroad Museum is open until 4 pm every day except Monday.
Birch Aquarium At Scripps
Address: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: (858) 534-3474
Among San Diego’s best-loved indoor activities is the Birch Aquarium.
Guests, young and old, will love spending a few hours getting up close to majestic sea creatures, including tiny blue penguins, seahorses, giant octopi, and sea turtles.
During fall, guests can also walk down the iconic Scripps Pier, which is typically closed to the public.
Head down to La Jolla between 9 am and 5 pm to see these mesmerizing animals for yourself.
Indoor Ice Skating – UTC Ice
Address: 4545 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA 92122
Phone: (858) 452-9110
Take to the ice at one of San Diego’s indoor skating rinks.
UTC Ice opens its skating rink to the public for a few hours every afternoon, during which novice and experienced skaters can sharpen their skills.
This will be a family day out you’ll never forget! Don’t worry if you’re not the most graceful on the ice, as the staff will be on hand to help you find your feet.
You’ll find the rink in the Westfield UTC Shopping Center.
Fleet Science Center
Address: 1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 238-1233
Although the Fleet Science Center mostly caters to kids, you could also find yourself learning a thing or two here.
All exhibits are interactive and hands-on, giving visitors an insight into innovation, sustainability, how video games are made, the solar system, and electricity, to name a few.
Plus, you won’t want to miss the IMAX dome for an unforgettable and immersive experience.
Spend an afternoon here if you’re in Balboa Park between 10 am and 5 pm.
New Children’s Museum
Address: 200 W Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 233-8792
Education has never been so fun.
The New Children’s Museum focuses on learning through art and play, giving kids the opportunity to partake in exciting workshops and explore colorful installations.
Everything from breathing rooms, foam sculptures, murals, and clay studios can be found here.
There are even separate sections for toddlers and children under the age of three.
Bring the little ones along to this downtown museum from 9 am to 4 pm any day except for Tuesdays.
San Diego Zoo
Address: Balboa Park
Phone: (619) 231-1515
A little rain won’t keep the San Diego Zoo down.
Though the rain may disrupt certain exhibits and outdoor activities, the zoo remains open every day of the year.
Everything runs as normal during light showers, though heavier downpours might lead to temporary closures of some portions of the park.
Luckily, there’s plenty of action indoors at San Diego Zoo, such as the 4D theater and the butterfly garden.
A major advantage of visiting the zoo when it’s raining is that there’s usually much smaller crowds, and the animals are often more active due to the cooler temperatures.
For adults, if you purchase tickets online, you get access to a number of extras that you won’t get if you buy tickets at the entrance.
Be sure to check out the San Diego Zoo Tips before heading out.
Catch A Movie At A Luxury Theater
Sometimes there’s no better way to steer clear of the rain than to cozy up and watch a movie.
Make your trip to the movies a little more special and opt for a luxury theater where you can watch the latest flicks in style.
Think huge reclining chairs, comfy cushions, and hot food delivered right to your seat. This is sure to make the whole family feel like VIPs.
San Diego has several luxury movie theaters where you can enjoy the royal treatment.
Venture to Cinépolis in Del Mar or Carlsbad, The Lot in La Jolla or Liberty Station, or Theatre Box in the Gaslamp Quarter.
A firm favorite in hail, wind, or snow, bowling is an excellent way to keep the kids busy while you wait out the rain.
San Diego has bowling alleys scattered throughout the city, most of which also serve food and drinks if you find yourself stuck inside for longer than anticipated.
Many spots also boast arcade games, too.
You can’t go wrong with bowling alleys like MCRD, Aztec Lanes, Mira Mesa Lanes, or Tavern & Bowl.
Though there are plenty more which may be a little closer to your hotel, check out our list of Best Spots For Bowling In San Diego.
Spend An Afternoon At An Arcade
On the subject of arcades, San Diego has lots of those, too.
The kids, and even adults, will surely be amused for a few hours in one of the city’s super-fun arcades.
Go head-to-head with the little ones in a game of Mario Kart, pinball, or air hockey.
As expected, lots of prizes will be up for grabs, which will hopefully make up for the unfortunate weather.
Dave & Buster’s, Brewski’s, and Lazerblast are some of the go-to spots for San Diegans.
There you have it! Our guide to the best indoor activities in San Diego to ensure the whole family has a vacation to remember, irrespective of the weather.
Of course, San Diego is all about the sun, sea, and sand, but a rainy day can show you another side of the city, proving there’s much more to San Diego than you might think!
Last Updated on October 27, 2023 by Maria Haase