Maybe it’s a rainy day on what was supposed to be a sunny beach vacation.
Or perhaps it’s cold and wet in your home city on your day off.
Either way, it’s miserable outside.
Well, don’t get down in the dumps.
Whether you’re traveling or just itching for something to do with your free time back home, there are many awesome things to do on a rainy day.
So, without further ado—
Here is a list of the best rainy day activities from dozens of experts:
Head to the Museum
Museums were by far the most recommended of all the rainy day activities people suggested.
Caroline, a UK-based blogger over at Pack The Suitcases, puts it like this:
“Being from England, I am well used to rain. Perhaps even a rain expert! A rainy day doesn’t have to put a dampener on exploring a new place on your travels. If you’re in a large town or city, do some research online to find the best local museums. Whether it’s art, science, history, or a local niche, museums are often free or cheap to enter and can easily pass a whole morning or afternoon.
“They also usually have a gift shop so you can pick up some postcards and small souvenirs. Larger museums like the Louvre in Paris or Louisiana in Copenhagen could easily fill an entire rainy day. As a bonus, most museums tend to have really good cafes – so you can always have a bite to eat and a tea/coffee while planning what you’ll do next on your travels when the rain clears!”
Have a Long, Slow Meal
Vanessa Valiente, creator of V-Style, a fashion and travel blog, had some tasteful rainy day activities:
“One of the most wonderful things to do in the rain is sit down to a five course meal in a nice restaurant. You don’t even know it’s raining out there while you sip and nibble for hours.”
Speaking of having a meal, April from SoCalFunFamily, gives up a secret tip: “Did you know some places give out free things on rainy days? In-N-Out Burger, for instance, gives out free kids hot chocolates on rainy days!”
Check Out Local Attractions
Nikki Webster, the traveler behind Brit on the Move, enjoys exploring in the rain: “Rain has never phased me. In fact, unless the rain prohibits an activity, I embrace it. With the right clothing, you can still visit outdoor monuments and national parks, and there will be no crowds! If in Europe, visit a castle, a church or cathedral, or a palace.”
Sit Down and Write
Writing is one of my favorite things to do on a rainy day. I often feel more productive when a downpour batters my windows. The heavier, the better! Whether you’re just journaling in your diary to release some pent-up emotions or writing your master’s thesis, writing makes a great activity for a cloudburst kind of day.
If you’re a travel writer and need some inspiration, check out our post on travel blogging ideas.
Plan Your Next Trip
What better way to overcome those rainy day blues and take back control than to plan your next adventure?
Whether you’re stuck at home and avoiding getting drenched or on holiday and dodging the deluge outside, planning a trip puts fun back into the dreary day. Think up an exciting destination, organize the budget, and research the various attractions you’ll see. Next thing you know, the clouds will part and the sun will be peaking back out!
Dane Kolbaba, from HoustonPartyRide, takes advantage of precipitation by mingling:
“If you’re staying at a hotel and they have a restaurant, head down for some drinks and chat with the locals (or other travelers). If you’re staying at a hostel, then there’s a good chance other travelers may be hanging out at the lobby—they’re probably as bored as you are and having that to share is a great way to connect.”
Hike Through the Forest
Nicole Hunter, from Go Far Grow Close, suggests a stroll through nature:
“I think that it is a natural inclination to head to museums, art galleries, shopping malls and other indoor activities when it rains while on holiday. However, I live in the Pacific northwest, in Vancouver, British Columbia, and rain is a part of our everyday life. If we stayed inside every time it rained, we would almost never breathe the outdoor air.
“However, it isn’t much fun becoming cold and wet. That is why heading into the forests that surround our city and all over the province is such an ideal activity on a rainy day. The canopy of the trees creates an umbrella protecting you from most of the worst of the weather. Your walk or hike (depending on your choice of trails) can take you up mountains, down to the Pacific Ocean, and to dozens of rivers and lakes.
“Heading into nature when it rains, wherever you might be, is always an opportunity to see your destination in a unique and rewarding way.”
Clean and Organize
Are you marooned at home and the gray skies and pitter-patter making you melancholic? Bring out the broom, dustpan, mop, and wipes. Not only will you give yourself something to do so you don’t succumb to cabin fever, but the results will be sure to satisfy you.
And, if you’re backpacking through a foreign land, you can still clean and organize. Use the rainy day to do laundry, organize your suitcase, and pack for your next destination or return home. Need some tips? Check out our guides on how to travel light and why you should travel light for more inspiration.
Melt Away Your Problems in a Natural Hot Spring
Manon Van Der Loo, a tour guide in Albania, offers up a local favorite from her Balkan home:
“The best thing to do on a rainy day is to visit natural hot springs, like the Thermal Springs of Benja in the South of Albania. While you are sitting in one of the thermal pools, you can feel the steam going up and the rain falling down on your skin. The rain actually feels very refreshing. Moreover, the nice warm pools in Benja are in the middle of nature. So instead of hiding away from the rain, you can relax in the mineral-rich warm water. And, as an added bonus, the hot springs actually have healing capacities, as well.”
Take a Cooking Class (or Make Your Own)
Nailah Hayward, owner of the travel blog There’s So Much to See, uses a rainy day to cook traditional, local food:
“One fun thing I’ve done on my travels when the weather is not the best is take a cooking class focused on the local cuisine. A quick Google search (or search on Tripadvisor or Airbnb experiences) will provide you with different options, many of which you can sign up for that day or the day before.
“Alternatively, if you are traveling and staying in a home (or hostel) with a full kitchen, you can create your own cooking class. Find a regional recipe that makes your mouth water, head to the local grocery store or farmers market to pick up the ingredients you’ll need, and head back to your kitchen to see what you can whip up. Help set a festive mood by playing some tunes from a local musician and grab a bottle of a wine or spirit native to the region. Bonus points if you invite a local over to share the experience.”
Use the wet and dreary day to learn something, new or otherwise. Perhaps study that second language you’ve put off, or practice for your upcoming exams. If you’re traveling, research a strategy for the next day that’ll make up for any time lost due to the rain today. Rainy days are excellent times for education!
Splurging a bit on yourself is always a happy time, especially when it’s cold and rainy outside (at least until the credit card bill arrives). Malls are quite lively from other folks avoiding the same situation. Wanna kill two birds with one stone? If you’re on holiday, go shopping for souvenirs to bring back to friends and family.
Find New Activities to Try
Catherine Ryan Gregory writes the family travel blog To & Fro Fam, where she shares tips on actually enjoying vacations with the kids, recommendations on family-friendly destinations, and all with a healthy dose of humor. Here’s her advice:
“If you find yourself stuck in crummy weather when you’re traveling, you can use the rain as motivation to find an off-the-beaten-path activity that you wouldn’t have tried in good weather. Where to find these gems that don’t make the Pinterest top 10 listicles? Search Groupon, Airbnb Experiences, and other discount or coupon sites. You’ll run across quirky (indoor) experiences that most visitors wouldn’t ever consider.
“For instance, one rainy day on vacation, I hunted around for a deal on an inside activity for myself and my kids, and I got a screaming deal on passes to an indoor bouldering gym. None of us had ever tried rock climbing before, but my kids still talk about that adventure. We might not have never discovered my kids’ new passion for climbing had the weather been nice!”
Research and Plan
Becca and Dan, from @halfhalftravel, get productive when it rains:
“During our recent trip in Taipei, Taiwan, we became VERY familiar with what to do on a rain day. In fact, we had five days of nonstop rain, and had to figure out what to do, while still enjoying ourselves! We learned from some local expats that this is very typical for Taipei, at any time of year! It’s practically unavoidable.
“To make the most of our wet, dreary, rainy days, I got cracking on some research. Taipei is a bustling metropolis with lots of history, culture and shopping. I made separate lists of cultural attractions that were indoors like top museums – the Taipei Contemporary Art Museum, the National Taiwan Museum, the Taiwan Design Museum and others. I starred them on a map.
“Then, I made a list of shopping malls that we had not yet been to (shopping malls are everywhere in Taipei, and we had already been to so many!). I found one that had a movie theater connected to it, which was ideal for a rainy day! We spent one of our rainy days during the five wettest days ever in the shopping mall, eating in the food court, browsing local fashion and seeing a movie in the cinema.
“The last thing I did was create a few itineraries based on proximity of shopping malls to other attractions like museums, so that we could do a few things on any given day and minimize our time spent walking outside dodging puddles and raindrops.”
Get the Coloring Books Out
Barbara Ali, an author and adventuring mom who blogs at Just Another American Princess, sends these rainy day tips:
“We often travel during rainy season because it’s cheaper. One summer, we were in Ethiopia where it stormed every day. Usually the power went out. We spent a lot of time doing adult coloring books with gel pens, sometimes by candle or flashlight. It was as much fun for the adults as the kids. The pictures ended up being great reminders of the family fun time we had together. Now we always pack some gel pens and books.”
Do What You Had Planned to Do Anyway
Matthew Lubin, from Booze Food Travel, thinks rain shouldn’t stop you from doing what you were about to do: “Sometimes there’s no way to avoid getting wet. Just accept it and see the sights you want. Those sites can be just as inspiring in the rain as in the sun. Your socks and shoes will dry.”
Brooke Baum, from Trailing Away, echoes this sentiment: “While many people choose to change their plans when it rains, we usually decide to go to our original location anyway. With the right gear, a little rain becomes far less of a nuisance. Going out in so-called ‘bad’ weather can actually lead to some phenomenal experiences.
“We’ve had some of the world’s most popular destinations all to ourselves, simply because we chose to venture out in not-ideal circumstances. Most of the time, vacation days are limited, and you may only have one chance to see the wonder. Don’t let a little rain stop you!”
Elisse, from the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre in Eckman, West Virginia, agrees: “It rains a LOT in southern WV mountains, so our guests often have to deal with it, and usually they just do the fun ‘outdoorsy’ things they came here to do anyway, such as fly-fishing for trout in Elkhorn Creek or ATVing. More mud = more fun! :-)”
Hit the Water
Joey Holmes, from Cool of the Wild, proposes you find bodies of water to enjoy during a rainstorm, drizzle, or shower:
“If you’re traveling with kids, or are a big kid yourself, the idea of spending a rainy day walking round museums or sitting in cafes may not fill you with joy. So my top tip for the energetic, adventurous types is to go get more wet than the rain will make you! In hot climates, seek out a place for a wild swim or journey down a river in rubber ring.
“In cooler areas sign up to rafting trip or take a surf lesson. Head for the hills and hire a canyoning guide or explore urban waterways on a stand up paddle board. All these activities are as fun in the rain as they are in the sun. Plus, you’ll be given a wetsuit to wear anyway, so it really makes no difference whether it’s raining or not!”
Release the Bookworm in You
Layla Turner, a freelance content writer and travel blogger at Alial Travel Gal, hits the books during inclement weather: “There are a ton of excellent cafe bookshops in cities like London or Sydney. Many libraries have great facilities for families, too. You’ll often find cafes, free wifi, kids play areas, study areas, and charging facilities. Cafe bookshops are a book lover’s haven. You can huddle in a chair with a latte and a rare book find until the gloomy weather passes.”
As for me, I like lazing about on a sofa with a great book, often an audiobook, eyes closed while hearing the production play out.
Check Out an Indoor Botanical Garden
This idea comes from Lindsay Davies, owner of the travel blog, I’ve Been Bit!
“The saying goes “April showers bring May flowers,” but what about the rest of the year? If Mother Nature is raining on your parade, take the fun indoors. A botanical garden is sure to brighten your dreary day! While many botanical gardens are outside, there are a number of great options which reside indoors. Wander through the exhibits and enjoy beautiful flowers, unique plants and more. You’ll forget all about the dreary weather as you enjoy the plethora of colors on display!”
Head to the Subway
Miguel A. Suro, a Miami attorney and lifestyle writer at The Rich Miser, heads downstairs to see what the metro has to offer:
“If you’re adventurous, mingle with locals and explore the city’s subway or underground public transportation system. You might be surprised at all the interesting shops (and sometimes even art exhibits) that are in some stations. It’s also a great way to get to try local food a lot cheaper, and get a true feel for the place.”
Samiha Ahmed, a frequent traveler and co-founder of the travel discovery app Burdie, agrees:
“Some of the best moments of travel can happen when you’re stuck indoors during a storm. For example, Seoul is known for elaborate shopping malls located in underground subway stations where you can shop for unique items or just try yummy local bites.”
Play a Game
Games are some of the best rainy day activities. Whether they’re board games at home with the kids or I Spy in the car on a road trip, a miserable day outside is meant for this. Traveling solo and don’t have anyone to play with? If you’re staying in a hostel, head down to the lobby or kitchen and ask your fellow backpackers if they’d like to join in.
Josh Baltzer, a travel YouTuber (Josh the Travel Guy) from Nova Scotia, Canada, is no rainy day beginner, saying, “I’ve been around enough that rainy days are very much something I am used to dealing with! Always carry a deck of cards with you. In a pinch, this is a great way to kill some time in the rain. They are extremely portable, and you can play anywhere.”
Another game variation for rainy day activities with the kids—an impromptu treasure hunt or scavenger hunt, which can be fun no matter what age group you’re playing with.
Get Your Adrenaline Up
We’ve mentioned indoor games for what to do on a rainy day. But Tatiana Sorokina, who runs the Family Road Trip Guru blog, gets her heart racing and blood pumping with indoor rainy day activities that are slightly more extreme:
“Another option is adrenaline inducing experiences such as indoor go-karts, indoor skydiving, or free-flying in a wind tunnel. How do I know all that? I am a travel blogger from San Francisco. It rains here half of the year and the other half of the year it is foggy, so you are lucky to get a couple of sunny days.”
Visit a Theme Park or Water Park
Paula Werne, from Holiday World in Indiana, also thinks getting even more wet is a great idea:
“This may seem counter-intuitive, but visit a theme park (and / or water park) on a rainy day! As long as you have a rain poncho to slip on when the raindrops fall, you’ll find the lines for the rides to be short and the other park guests to have that same good-natured delight in having the park ‘to themselves.’ And as far as visiting a water park in the rain – you’re already going to get wet, right?”
Karolina Klesta, co-founder of the Lazy Travel Blog, concurs: “If you are looking for the boredom busters on a rainy day, find the nearest spa or aquapark. It’s always good to have fun in the water!”
Check Out Some Local Shopping Spots
Jenny Smith, a travel blogger and founder of the blog MoveToNewZealand, says some of her favorite rainy day activities include heading to everyday shops:
“Some of the most fun places to shop are old hardware stores and a general or dry goods store. If your travel plans have been rained out, find a copy of the local yellow pages and look for out of the way shopping. You may find something you can’t live without, such as really decent cast iron cookware for your next camping trip at the nearest little hardware store. You might also find the favorite candy that you haven’t had since your last stop at Aunt Dorothy’s house at a small town craft or dry goods store.”
Pamper Yourself at the Spa
Magdalena Berger is a sustainable swimwear designer, owner of MAGDAKINEDESIGNS swimwear, and a self-proclaimed tropical travel expert. Her advice is this:
“My top recommendation for a rainy day on a tropical vacation is to pamper yourself at the local spa. If you know rain is in the forecast, why not be prepared by familiarizing yourself with where the closest spas and bathhouses are in your area? Relaxing activities like massages and steam rooms are a great way to take advantage of a rainy day and get the most out of a vacation meant for rest and relaxation.
“Depending on your travel destination, you may even find it to be a cultural experience, as well. In places like Asia and Europe, you’ll find large bath houses with indoor pools, outdoor pools, and saunas along with traditional bathing practices unique to the region.”
Jessica Armstrong, from Glamping Hub, agrees: “Whether you want to pamper yourself with some luxury massages and facials to the soft sounds of the rainfall or visit some of the worlds most gorgeous and tasty wineries for delicious experience, glamping at these sites in the rain will not hold you back from having the best vacation yet.”
Just Relax & Enjoy Yourself
Sometimes you don’t have to do anything at all. If it’s a rainy day outside and it’s messed up your plans, just go with the flow. Use that time to relax and enjoy yourself. Maybe get a nap in or catch up on that show you’re behind on.
Well, how ’bout that? I hope these rainy day activities helped inspire you. Got any other great things to do on a rainy day or when it’s miserable out there? Leave us a comment, and thanks for reading!