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Rain Rain Doesn’t Have to Go Away: Or at least it doesn’t have to ruin your vacation

Updated: Oct 6

What to do on a rainy beach vacation

Rainy Window

It’s happened to us all. You plan the perfect weekend getaway to the beach. You can’t wait for a few days of fun in the sun, getting the kids out of the house and away from electronics, you wouldn’t even mind a little bit of a sunburn. Your weekend is full of mini-golf, walking around downtown or the boardwalk, and wearing the kids out with a swim in the ocean a few times a day.

And then it rains. All. Weekend. Long. Now you are trapped in the house with kids going back and forth between running around and screaming and eyes glued to the iPads. Your plans are dashed, and you are fighting off the boredom and frustration of being stuck indoors. Your vacation is ruined!

Welcome to my Memorial Day weekend. We headed to my in-law’s beach house in New Jersey for the long weekend ready to celebrate the unofficial start of summer. Unfortunately, there was a lot of rain in the forecast. Instead of letting the rain – and the kids – get the best of us, I hopped online and started making other plans. Not all beaches are the same, but there are a few types of places that you can likely find at or near many of your beach destinations.


Panorama of NAS Wildwood

There are often a couple types of museums near your destination. I’m not talking Smithsonian-level museums, but many small towns have their own small history museums, train station museums, or more. You will want to base the museum choice around who you are traveling with. For instance, I’m not about to take my crazy brood to a fine art museum! However, we found the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum to be PERFECT. It was also an appropriate choice, as it led us to a discussion with the bigger kids about the real meaning of the Memorial Day holiday.

The boys loved it. Lots of military planes, helicopters, jets, and more. They got to climb into the cockpits, peer down from the tower, and they loved the 1940’s apartment and diner exhibit. With their cousin in tow, ages ranged from 1-10 and every one of them had a blast.

Winery or Brewery

Wine Barrell

Wineries and Breweries are everywhere these days. They are a great place to grab a bite and a drink. Just be warned: some don’t allow kids on property, and others do not have food available onsite (in some states, like New Jersey, they are not allowed to prepare/serve onsite). Do your research before you go to see if you can bring the littles, have to stop on the way to pick up a bite, or if they may have another option like food trucks on-site that you can enjoy. Their websites are a good start but also check their social media’s, as many will post a food truck or musician that may be onsite that day.

You also want to make sure there is ample seating. Many wineries/breweries are pretty small inside and rely on outdoor biergarten or picnic-style seating. This is great on a nice day, but on a rainy one, you are not likely to get a seat if you don’t get there right at opening.

For our Rainy adventure, we headed to Cold Springs Brewery – NJ’s first Non-Profit Brewery. They have a restaurant next door to the brewery that because of COVID offered take-out only. We ordered lunch and headed over to the brewery, only to find it packed. No seats to be had indoors. They did however have a covered pavilion out back, so we took our beers and our food and headed back there. Since it had been unnaturally hot the week before, they had removed their heaters, so it was quite chilly in there, but at least it was dry.

Cold Stone Grange Sign

Grabbed take-out from the neighboring restaurant

Cold Stone Brewery Building

Headed over to the brewery

The beer and food were good and there was an adorable village connected to it, so I’m looking forward to heading back on a lovely sunny day. This is a great example of a gem that we wouldn’t have otherwise found!

Escape Room

Group picture from escape room

C1 picked the name: Nonya, as in None of Your [business]

I had never done an escape room but have always wanted to. I’m a huge mystery buff and love solving puzzles, so this activity seemed to be custom fit for me. A rainy weekend was just the excuse I needed to do it! We signed up for a room at Escape Cape May for their Shawshank-inspired room. This was at the insistence of my 10-year-old who didn’t want to do the ‘easier’ more kid-friendly room but rather this one because it was the only one that had ‘Break Out’ in the name.

We ended up with 5 adults and 3 kids in our group, which was a good number for this room. We had enough brainpower, but we also weren’t stepping on each other. It wasn’t too hard that the kids couldn’t help, but it was certainly challenging.

In the end, we escaped with 2 minutes to spare and only using 2 of the 3 available clues. The boys had a blast and so did the adults. The kids still talk about it 3 weeks later, though my 5-year-old says “Remember when we escaped from Dominos Pizza?” – it was in the same building as a Dominos storefront.

One piece of advice: plan ahead. Either call or sign up online early or plan that you won’t go until the next day. We waited just a little too long to sign up and we had to switch our plans around and go on Sunday instead of our original planned day of Saturday.

Nature Conservatory or Aquarium

Many beaches – especially along the East Coast- have locations dedicated to nature. It may be a nature conservatory, wildlife center, or aquarium. We didn’t make it to one this time, but in a past rainy day adventure, we headed to the Wetlands Institute – a nature conservatory in Stone Harbor, NJ. They had some great hands-on educational exhibits for the boys, so they got to learn in a playful environment.

Aquariums are also fantastic ways to spend a rainy beach day. If the kids can’t swim in the ocean, at least they get to learn about the ocean habitat! We have been to the Manteo Aquarium down in the Outer Banks on more than one occasion. The boys loved petting the stingrays and watching the huge wall of sharks!

Rain doesn’t always have to ruin your beach vacation. It may not be everything you dreamed it could be, but it is amazing the new adventures you can have and hidden treasures you wouldn’t normally have found if you spent your whole vacation laying on the beach!

What are some fun indoor activities you have discovered during a rainy vacation? Comment below or on my social media!

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