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San Diego’s Ultimate Guide of Awesome Rainy Day Activities For Kids and Families

January 19, 2017
San Diego's Ultimate Guide of Awesome Rainy Day Activities For Kids and Families

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The forecast shows that San Diego is due to get 6 straight days of rain starting now.  While to the rest of the country 6 days of light rain seems like no big deal, for us sun loving – live outdoors San Diegan’s it’s almost terrifying.  Other cities are built to account for poor weather; malls are indoors, there are indoor play places and a healthy balance of activities that work well when the weather outside is bad.  In San Diego, the weather is rarely bad and almost always sunny.  As a result, for a city our size there aren’t a lot of indoor options for places to take your kids when it’s raining and most of us just don’t know what the activities are.

As a parent of a 4 and a 3 year old, 6 days of rain means that I either have the kids bouncing off the walls in the house or I need to get creative with activities that will burn off some of their energy. So before we go full steam ahead with our rainy day plans I thought I would share my shortlist of favorite rainy day activities for our family.  Whether you are an out of towner visiting with kids or a local just trying to save your home from unruly little ones, you don’t want to miss this list of the best activities to do with kids in San Diego when it rains.

Go to KidVentures

kidventures liberty statoin san diego

Honestly, I didn’t want to like KidVentures at first but I’m kind of obsessed with it now.  It’s really clean and entirely indoors.  The kids are meant to play with the parents (or with them if that’s your thing) and there are employees who come by in 30 minute intervals and do activities with the kids.  Every couple hours they take the kids into the crafts room and do a craft for 15 minutes, which is absolutely devine.  What are the parents doing while the kids are so content?  We’re sitting at the table eating food from their cafe and working on our laptops using the free Wifi.

Seriously, if you don’t want to be in 100% parent mode on a rainy day, go to KidVentures. But get there early and secure a good table because a lot of other parents will have the exact same idea.

  • Where: Kid Ventures
  • Location: Liberty Station,4S Ranch and Eastlake
  • Website: http://indoorplaysandiego.com/
  • Price: First Child $15/day, Sibling $8/day, Adults $5/day, Babies under 1 FREE, Seniors and Military Adults FREE

Insider Tip: Bring socks or else you are going to pay for them. If you are visiting the one in Liberty Station head over to Pigtails & Crewcuts for more entertainment and a haircut or walk down to the Liberty Public Market for a delicious lunch. My kids love Cecilia’s Taqueria and the chocolate chip cookie from Local Greens.

Visit the New Children’s Museum

the new childrens museum san diego wonder sound

If you are not already a member, the New Children’s Museum is still worth a single day admission for a rainy day (or even sunny one for that matter).  It’s a big 3 story building with tons of installations that let your kids learn through modern art.  This isn’t like other museums with concrete activities with blocks or building but sort of a magical adventure through a variety of abstract play based installations that are actually art.

The kids and I easily spend 3+ hours there on a sunny day (outside across the street is a garden, bubbles, swings and climbing structure) and on a rainy day we’ll eat lunch there too and get lost in the zen sandbox for an hour.

  • Where: New Children’s Museum
  • Location: Downtown
  •  Website: https://thinkplaycreate.org/
  • Price: $13 adults and children over 1 (memberships are for 4 people and only $105

 Insider Tip: There is limited underground parking if you get there early enough. It’s $5 for members and probably double that for non members. Very convenient but very small parking spaces.  If you are rolling in a big SUV look for street parking first.  

Put the Kids in Yoga Classes

san diego kids yoga

Yoga classes for kids are amazing in so many ways and as a rainy day activity they are even better.  With intimate classes and a really calm vibe it’s the perfect way to center your hipper preschooler. Hapa Yoga in Mission Valley and Eastlake offers a Kids class for little ones starting at 2 years old and as an added bonus if they are over the age of 3, you can go take your own class while they do a 45 minute kids class.  If you like the studio they also have childcare  for all their adult classes.

  • Where: Hapa Yoga
  • Location: Mission Valley
  • Website: http://hapayoga.com/
  • Price: $10 a child for drop ins

If you are looking for a very robust schedule for kids yoga try If I Was A Bird Yoga.  They also let you drop off your little ones while you take a class as a sister studio (like CorePower or Barrys Bootcamp). You just need to plan ahead at least a day in advance to make sure there is a spot for your little one.

Jump Around at Rockin’ Jump’s Rockin’ Tots

IMG_1606 (1)

Rocking Jump has quickly become a regular in our activity rotation. I discovered Rockin’ Tots a year ago and ever since have been taking the kids almost weekly.  Rockin’ Tots is just for parents and their kids under 6 years old.  The whole trampoline park is open but it’s got about 1/4 the crowd that it usually does and no kids over the age of 6.  From the crawlers in the foam pit to the older toddlers flying onto the air bags, it’s a great mix of adults and kids and one of our favorite activities for a Saturday morning.

Insider Tip: They just opened up and arcade in the front which is cool yet expensive.  So just prep the kids that they can jump and do the climbing wall and you’ll save yourself for losing $20 to get a rubber ducky.

Shop at Ikea + Smaland Childcare

ikea mission valley

Ikea is a total gem for rainy days when you aren’t trying to fill up your entire day but just a few hours out of the house.  As soon as your kids are tall enough they can go into Ikea’s daycare which is basically what every mom dreams of whenever they walk into a store.  I can’t tell you how many things I’ve bought at Ikea simply because I’ve been able to shop alone and really see the products they have.  Our entire playroom was designed around idea furniture simply because I could make decisions in peace while the kids where content in the daycare. Want some quiet time with a girl friend? Put the kids in Ikea daycare and go find a cozy couch upstairs and then have lunch.  Or if you are alone, put the kids in daycare, shop and then pull them out and head upstairs for lunch.

  • Height Requirements 37″-54″ tall
  • You have to stay on site – I mean it, don’t ruin it for the rest of us!
  • Must be potty trained
  • If only your oldest is tall enough, you’ll still enjoy shopping with one less kid
  • I’m not a big fan of the food at Ikea so depending on the weather we’ll walk over to Luna Grill

Skate at the UTC Mall & Ice Rink

utc ice skating rink la jolla

Looking to get out for lunch and maybe a quick stop in a store?  Westfield UTC is a great mall to go to with the kiddos if you want to grab a food court lunch and ice skating session.  The food court looks down on the ice skating rink which provides lots of lunchtime entertainment and a fun activity for the whole family.  If you love Tender Greens there is one right outside the food court for healthier eating.

Insider Tip: If you have babies in diapers or are breastfeeding the family lounge in the food court area is the best I have ever seen in San Diego.  There are nursing rooms with recliners, bottle warmers and even an enclosed play area with television for older brother or sister to watch while you tend to the baby.

Go Bowling

san diego bowling with kids

Bowling is my husband’s favorite rainy day activity to do with the kids.  There isn’t much restriction on the age kids need to be so it was something we started doing with the kids when they were young.  With bumper lanes and the metal rack to roll the ball down, it’s easy for even little ones and there is a simplicity to the repetitiveness that makes it a really fun game for them to play.  As a bonus we always take them into the little arcade area after to try out air hockey and some other games.  Since you are in Kearny Mesa there are lots of good noodle places and comfort food at surrounding restaurants for after.

  • Kearny Mesa Bowl
  • Location: Kearny Mesa
  • Website: http://www.kearnymesabowl.com/
  • Price: Winter rates are around $17 an hour for the group.  Shoe rental is extra.

Insider Tip: From April – October each year kids bowl FREE. Up to 2 free games a day for the kids all summer+ long! 

Indoor Rock Climbing

san diego kids indoor rock climbing for kids

If you have tested your kids climbing skills over at Rocking Jump, consider taking them to a rock climbing facility. While this might require an advanced booking the day before most indoor rock climbing facilities let kids as young as 4 climb.  If you’ve been to Rockin’ Jump and your child exceeded on their wall, this could be a great activity. Neither of my kids are a good enjoy skill level but I imagine in just a few years this is going to be an awesome activity for rainy days.

  • Grotto Climbing
  • Location: Mission Valley East
  • Website: https://www.grottoclimbing.com/
  • Price:  Children 4 and under climb for free with the purchase of 1 parent admission of $18.

Visit Balboa Park

fleet science center with kids

While Balboa Park is a totally magical place on beautiful sunny days, it’s actually still doable for rainy days.  The rain in San Diego is usually scattered and light so going from place to place within Balboa park is totally doable.  While the museums single day prices are expensive, always look out for the Free Residents days, membership prices and first Tuesdays. You can also check out the local library to sign up for a museum pass which gives you admission to dozens museums in San Diego. It’s a long wait list for the pass but it saves you hundreds on museum admissions while you get to have it checked out from the library.

Here are the places we would consider stopping at on rainy days.

Ruben H Fleet Science Center:

Upstairs they have a great place space for little ones ideal for kids under 3.  The rest of the museum is tailored to kids over 5 with science activities and experiments that are fun for all ages.  There is also an IMAX (extra cost) in a dome theater which is great for school ages kids and adults.

Natural History Museum:

The NAT is a beautiful large museum dedicated to all things Natural History.  If you little one likes Dinosaurs, this would be the place to take them. In all honestly, my kids don’t really dig this museum so we don’t go but I have a handful of friends whose kids slightly older really enjoy it.

San Diego Model Railroad Museum:

The model train museum is my 3 year olds jam.  Located downstairs on the Prado it’s a large museums of working model trains that have all little boys squealing with excitement.  Everything is enclosed behind plexiglass so there are no concerns of the kids being able to mess anything up.  Its big enough that the kids burn off some energy racing the trains around the tracks and following them back and forth.  There is a little Chipotle like cafe right upstairs from the train museum for a quick and easy lunch after:

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater:

The Puppet Theater is Balboa Park is a great rainy day activity.  If you don’t feel like sitting through a movie but want a mellow indoor activity, this is the way to go.  There are shows every Wendsday – Sunday with showtimes before lunch and naptime which is a huge plus!

Website: https://marie-hitchcock-puppet-store.myshopify.com/

Price: $5

Ride the Trolley

san-diego-trolley-with-kids

My kids love the trolley (they are actually currently riding it downtown to the Children’s Museum while I write this). The trolley is a great adventure with lots of stops so you can just buy a day pass and go on a bit of a follow your nose trip.  The Coaster has the most scenic views but it’s very expensive compared to the trolley which is about $5 for an all day pass. The trolley will keep you in the central San Diego corridor but it’s got lots of fun places to stop off.

Green Line:

There are tons of great sunny stops on the trolley but here are my favorites for when we are doing a rainy day adventure:

Fenton Parkway Stop:

  • Ikea: See the separate section on Ikea.  Childcare + Toys + Food
  • Mission Valley Library: Great Children’s section, reading room and outdoor kids garden.  Check the schedule because they have everything from Baby Sign Language to Preschool Story Hour.

Hazard Center Stop:

  • Movie Theater: They offer parent movie and cheap ticket prices
  • Lakeshore Learning: Educational Toy Store

Fashion Valley Stop:

  • Ghepetto’s: Great local kids toy store (also on the Old Town stop)
  • Lego Store: Lego tables where they can play for a bit while you look around
  • Disney Store: They have a big screening area where they kids can select which clips of movies they want played
  • Nordstrom Cafe: This is my favorite place to get lunch on a rainy day.  Great food and even though it’s semi cafeteria style their service is great and it’s really easy with well behaved kids. It’s on the 3rd floor so stop at kids shoes for a balloon first and then head over to lunch.

Convention Center:

  • This stop will put you right outside the New Children’s Museum which is another great rainy day activity on this list.

Insider Tip: Save that plastic Albertson’s reload card your trolley pass comes on.  It’s reusable so you only pay the fee once.  Kids under 5 years old are free with a paying passenger.

See a Movie

going to the movies with kids in san diego

I pretty much only take my kids to movies when the weather is bad.  We are such outdoor people that the movies on a cold or rainy day is a perfect cozy activity.  Check out your local theater because there are often Parent Movie morning where the first showing of the day has lights brighter and kids are allowed to be a bit noisier than usual.

While I am into the fancy theaters for myself I recommend doing a standard AMC or Hazard center type theater with little kids.

Play at Chuck E Cheese

chuck e cheese on a rainy day

When I was a kid Chuck E Cheese has a really bad wrap. I don’t even remember why, probably because it was filled with germs?  But, with the age my kids are, I’m sort of warming up to Chuck E Cheese for rainy days.  It’s generally not that crowded and my kids are old enough that they can just roam around on their own. They don’t need all the games to be on so I’m not blowing through tokens like crazy either. While it’s not a place I would choose for a nice sunny day I’ve definitely headed there more than once on rainy days.

Insider Tip: If you are a germaphobe, just give your kids a fun bubble bath right when you get home.  It will be another great way to keep them entertained during a rainy day.

The Bottom Line

Rain or shine, any of these activities on the list will not dissappoint.  But luck for us, they are the perfect solution when San Diego gets some unexpected rain and you can’t figure out what to do with your kids or even your out of town guests.  I know that with the rainstorm we have right now, the kids and I will be sure to be adventuring in at least a few of these spots!

Do you have any other local spots that are great for kids on rainy days?  Share in the comments below!

In Gratitude Legos in my Louis

Looking more inexpensive ideas for activities in San Diego be sure to read:  15 UNIQUE KID FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN SAN DIEGO FOR UNDER $5

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