Creative Things to Do When There’s Rain on a Beach Vacation

Mary Dixon Lebeau Avatar
Lone beachgoer under a blue umbrella when it rains on a beach vacations

Few things can put a damper on fun like the news that it will rain on your beach vacation. But there’s no need to be glum. Embrace the unexpected and make the most of your time with these fantastic activities that will keep you entertained while it rains.

1. Turn Your Rainy Day into a Spa Day

Sure, you can treat the whole family to a day at the spa in your resort. It’s a great, relaxing way to spend the day when a little rain keeps you off the beach. But it can take a big bite out of your vacation budget and chances are the spa will already be booked by people who looked at the forecast and planned accordingly.

To prepare for rain on our annual vacation at the Jersey Shore, we always bring along an “emergency spa kit.” It includes a tub of coconut oil, a fresh lemon, a cucumber and a variety of fingernail polish colors, all packed in a tub large enough to soak your feet in.

Usually the kids “ran the spa” while my husband and I were customers; they would rub lemon into our rough elbows, put cucumber slices on our eyes and so on. After a foot massage and fresh coat of polish (my husband passed on that), we’d all head to the kitchen for that ultimate spa treat – strawberry smoothies! (Bonus: if our vacation was a week of sunny days, we could still use the cucumber and lemon for our salad!)

Rain on beach day? Cook up some fun.
Your Top Chef pizza competition is bound to stir up that old “pineapple” debate. Photo courtesy Pixabay

2. Cook Up Some Fun to Battle Rain on a Beach Vacation

If you’re looking for things to do on a rainy day at home or you happen to be staying at a beach vacation rental with a kitchen, start gathering supplies for a family cook-off.

Our favorite “Top Chef” competition was always the pizza challenge. Give each person a ready-made crust or roll out some crescent rolls. Then each one creates their own pizza using whatever they can find in the pantry. We’ve had pizzas topped with fresh fruit, peanut butter and jelly, and Fruity Pebbles (a personal favorite).

If you’re not into pizza, bake cupcakes or brownies or create new sandwiches.

When the cooking is done, sit down to feast. If you’re a really competitive family, someone can be the judge. THe prize? The winner gets to watch while everyone one cleans up.

Encampment Wyoming Lodging - Comfort is quite available at the Wolf Hotel, even after walking up a flight or two of stairs.
Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

3. Go on a Hotel Scavenger Hunt

You can quickly and easily come up with your own list — a laundry cart, swimming pool, hotel key, coffee maker, clothes hangar, restaurant menu, pillow, etc. — or download one and print it in the hotel business center. You can look for things throughout the hotel or, if your kids are younger, just insider your room.

Make it a photo scavenger hunt so all they have to do is find the object and snap a photo to get credit.

two kids playing cards in an rv
Playing UNO FLIP. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

4. Board Games, Card Games and Puzzles – Oh My!

Sure, they’re the standard go-to when a last-minute downpour cancels your surf lesson.

But we have to admit some of our best memories are of the times the entire family gathered around the dining room table in our rental home and played Apples to Apples while listening to the downpour. Our answers got outrageous, our choices comical, and our laughter deafening. What more could you ask for on a vacation?

With board games, you can choose the game that’s appropriate to the age of your kids. (I was so happy when we finally could put away that Hi Ho Cherry-O because the whole clan was old enough for Headbands.) There is, quite literally, a board game for every family.

A rainy day is perfect for a Monopoly marathon, or to gather around that thousand-piece puzzle. And if you’re stuck in a hotel room without a dining room table, remember that card games take up very little space. Little kids like Go Fish or Slap Jack, while teens and adults can bond over Pinochle or Poker (betting with corn chips, of course).

Rain on beach day? Bring your reading indoors
A great beach book is just as good indoors. Photo courtesy Pixabay

5. Book It

A rainy day at the beach is perfect for snuggling up under a blanket (or sitting on a covered porch) and catching up on your reading.

If you didn’t pack a paperback with you, take a trip to a local bookseller a spend some rainy day time exploring the book shelves. Better yet, visit the local library. You can spend the full day there perusing the magazines, reading a paperback, or even catching a special event.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Before your trip, visit the local library site. You’ll be surprised at all that’s going on!

Don't forget the popcorn if you're having a movie day
A movie without popcorn is like a beach day without sun….oh, wait….Photo courtesy Pixabay

6. Movies, Inside and Out

Heading to the movie theater when it rains on a beach vacation is always a good bet. And those nice plushy seats are calling your name! But if you don’t want to brave a downpour, set up a movie marathon right in your hotel room.

You can watch whatever is playing on the hotel’s channels or pay for a movie rental. If you came prepared for rain, you will have packed your Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. Just plug it into one of the TV’s HDMI ports and you’re ready to go!

Viewing displays like the Counts House at the CA State Mining & Mineral Museum is one of the things to do in Mariposa CA.
The Counts House at the California State Mining & Mineral Museum. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

7. Check Out Museums and Art Galleries When There’s Rain on a Beach Day

Just because an area is known for its beaches doesn’t mean nothing else happens there. From historical societies and local showings to marine mammal stranding centers and even aquariums.

Google “things to do in (name of area) and chances are good you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of options.

rainy day karaoke can chase the clouds away
Who wants to sing “Rain Rain Go Away”? Check out local ice cream parlors to see if they offer karaoke. Photo courtesy Pixabay

8. What’s Going On Locally

Particularly in touristy areas like beach resort towns, the local coffee shop can be a cabaret of entertainment. So get a round of frappes or lattes and settle in to listen to live music as the rain passes.

Ice cream parlors often do one better – they offer afternoons of karaoke, magic or trivia challenges. Our favorite in Ocean City NJ even offers a family sock hop day. And this entertainment goes on rain or shine, so make your rainy day a “sundae” at the local ice cream parlor.

9. Escape to an Escape Room

If you’re a competitive bunch, an escape room — they’re popping up at beach towns everywhere! — can be a great way to spend a rainy day.

10. Give In and Get Wet When It Rains on A Beach Vacation

Okay, here’s the disclaimer – only suggest this idea when you’re absolutely sure it’s safe to do so –when it’s just a passing sun shower, not a thunderstorm or the next hurricane to hit.

Sure, the lifeguards may ban your boogie boards and you may not be allowed to go in past your ankles. But since you’re going to get wet anyway, why not play some beach games and dance in the rain?

A former newspaper columnist, Mary is now a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Parents, Parenting, Pregnancy, Conceive and Family Circle (are you sensing a theme?). She was also the former travel editor at REAL Magazine (RIP). Her essays have appeared in such publications as the Christian Science Monitor, God Allows U Turns, and four different editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Mary is also adept at creating vacations that are “one size fits all.” The mother of five (ranging from “Expedition Everest” to “Dumbo”), she has become skilled at planning for all ages, collecting kiddie swap passes and making sure everyone is happy (sometimes all at the same time). A former newspaper columnist, Mary is now a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Parents, Parenting, Pregnancy, Conceive and Family Circle (are you sensing a theme?). She was also the former travel editor at REAL Magazine (RIP). Her essays have appeared in such publications as the Christian Science Monitor, God Allows U Turns, and four different editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
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One response


  1. Great article Mary❣️ Your literary skills always impress me and make me smile.

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