San Diego is famous for its spectacular coastline, theme parks, and beautiful beaches. When the weather doesn’t cooperate with your outdoor plans, this Southern Californian city offers a huge variety of indoor activities. Whether you prefer to spend a day exploring the many museums in Balboa Park or sipping craft beers in a funky North Park brewery, fun is never far away when you’re in San Diego. If you’re booking a San Diego vacation rental during the wet winter season or unexpectedly caught in a rainstorm during your getaway, save the day with these great activities and attractions.
1. Visit the Museums in Balboa Park
A rainy day is nothing to worry about at Balboa Park, which features 17 different museums and cultural institutions just north of downtown. Experiment with electricity or cozy up in the Giant Dome IMAX theater at the Fleet Science Center. Next door, the San Diego Natural History Museum offers an up-close look at an Ice Age mastodon and an exciting collection of dinosaur fossils. Feel like a fighter pilot in the MaxFlight and F-35 simulators at the San Diego Air and Space Museum; the space museum also features the interactive Be The Astronaut exhibit, where adults and kids can launch a rocket and drive a space rover. Other options include the San Diego Museum of Man, the San Diego Art Institute, and the Mingei International Museum. Nearby, the Prado at Balboa Park restaurant is a great place to refuel with the family.
2. Sample Craft Beer in North Park
Experience San Diego’s booming craft beer scene at the North Park Beer Co., which is located in the North Park neighborhood. The welcoming tap room provides two floors of seating and an ever-evolving selection of small-batch brews on tap. Order elevated pub foods such as grilled broccolini and fries with harissa aioli and cotija cheese from the kitchen, which is operated by Mastiff Sausage Company. Check the event schedule, which features regular beer and yoga sessions, big band brunches, and beer nerd trivia.
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3. Check Out the Fish at Birch Aquarium
Peek under the ocean at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. Watch as leopard sharks and endangered giant black sea bass dart in and out of an underwater kelp forest in the Giant Kelp Tank, which holds 70,000 gallons of water and stands an awe-inspiring two stories tall. In the There’s Something About Seahorses exhibit, you can watch the unusual movements of tiny seahorses and seadragons. Don’t miss the Hall of Fishes, which offers an underwater tour of Pacific Ocean habitats. The museum offers a regular schedule of experiences, including shark feedings, kelp forest dive shows, and sea turtle feedings. A short drive away, La Jolla Center houses restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen and Pho La Jolla.
4. Go Indoor Rock Climbing at Vertical Hold
Try rock climbing at Vertical Hold, an indoor climbing gym in Mission Hills. If you’re new to the sport, book a beginner lesson and a belay lesson with the friendly staff; kids’ climbing lessons are also available. Once you know the ropes, take advantage of the gym’s automatic belays as you navigate up steep walls and hang upside down from overhanging ledges. Routes are conveniently marked with color-coded grips to help you choose a skill-appropriate line. After you work up an appetite, head across the railroad tracks to Little Italy Pizzeria and Pasta.
5. Take a Trolley Tour
There’s no need to let the rain stop you from sightseeing; hop on an Old Town Trolley Tours trolley to explore San Diego in warm, dry comfort. Large glass windows provide a clear view of the city’s landmarks as you depart from Old Town, including the Embarcadero Marina and the Gaslamp Quarter. Regular daytime tours are hop-on, hop-off, so you can get out to explore a shop or museum. In the evening, try the San Diego City Lights Night Tour, which offers a fantastic view of San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.
6. Explore the USS Midway
Get a feel for life at sea aboard the USS Midway, an enormous aircraft carrier that has been turned into a museum just west of downtown. As you climb into crew bunks, explore the engine room, and check out the ship’s jail, the included audio tour provides stories and fascinating facts. Head up to the bridge to get a bird’s eye view of the enormous flight deck. Be sure to chat with the friendly docents throughout the museum; each one is a treasure trove of facts and anecdotes about the ship. When you’re done exploring, fly a military mission in the Air Combat 360 flight simulator or climb into the cockpit of a retired plane. There’s no need to head for dry land when meal time rolls around; the Fantail Cafe serves affordable snacks on the flight deck.
7. Visit The New Children’s Museum
Give your kids space to play at The New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego. Little ones can build circuit critters in the Innovators LAB, create a masterpiece in the Clay Studio, and construct enormous buildings in the Blocks area. Find a Museum Play Worker to find out how to join the Museum Spy Agency, or head to The Wonder Sound to climb through a labyrinth of rooms and ropes. Don’t worry about driving to find dinner; Richard Walker’s Pancake House is just across the street.
8. Go Skydiving Indoors at iFly
Get the thrill of a lifetime with an indoor skydiving session at iFly in Mission Valley East. After a training session, strap into a flight suit and step into iFly’s enormous wind tunnel. As you lean forward, the high-speed air lifts your body effortlessly. Between flights, watch the instructors perform gravity-defying tricks. The experience is open to everyone 3 and older.
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