This is one of those topics that has been forced upon me, thanks to the exceptionally dreary and wet year that was 2023 - in fairness, this year was probably more typical British weather, it was simply the contrast to the last few years where we've had beautiful sunny weekends and glorious heatwaves, 2023 felt abysmal. Every weekend it seemed to rain, gone were the summer days of dead grass because of weeks on end of sun, certainly better for the plants, but a bit of a dampener for those trying to enjoy themselves out and about on holiday. So what can you do? Well, today I'm going to delve into some of the solutions we've come up with to keep the wet days fun, some of this may seem like I'm touching on familiar subjects but stick with me - I'll hopefully come up with a few new ideas you can keep in your back pocket for the next time your holiday gets washed out.
Board Games & Indoor Activities
The classic: it's a rainy day, so what do you do? grab the board games. But, for the love of god, please expand your board game horizons! Instead of the same 40-year-old Monopoly, and the Cards Against Humanity set that you have fully exhausted any entertainment from, although there is nothing inherently wrong with these games, there is so much more out there! Try taking a jump into a few of the more exciting options on offer. Board games are amazingly varied and can offer all different kinds of experiences, so with that in mind, here are just a few that we have enjoyed recently, hopefully, you can use these as a jumping-off point to explore the world of table-top gaming:
- Disney Villainous - an all-things Disney board game that sees you jump into the shoes of some of your favourite Disney villains. Follow the prompts, complete your goals and use your evil abilities to complete your character's unique objective.
- Horrified - Sticking with the evil theme, but with more of a horror flick focus. Your aim is to stop the classic horror monster and villains from winning, each of which has a unique method to stop their reign of terror. The best part of this game is you can adjust the difficulty by changing the selection and number of enemies on the board per game.
- Throw Throw Burrito - Time for something completely different with a dodgeball card game. The box contains two very soft burrito projectiles and an array of colourful cards will prompt how to go on. Chaotic fun, remove anything breakable from the room before unleashing hell!
- Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Baker Street Irregulars - don your best deerstalker and pipe, it's time to solve some crimes. This game (and its variants, there are a few to pick from) gives you an introduction, a newspaper and a London map to explore and sets you loose to your deductions. It is a serious challenge, and achieving a Sherlock Holmes perfect score really takes some work. Navigate London, find new clues, debate and infer your way to the correct answers. Great fun, and can easily absorb a full day.
There is a handful of options to keep you entertained or to find something more up your alley. But what about if you don't fancy a board game? A movie day is always an option - grab every blanket, duvet, pillow and snack you can find and nestle in for a marathon of new films and old favourites. Not sure where to start? consider getting a scratch-off movie poster that will guide you through some of the classics you may have missed! It is a great way to spend a day and the rain lashing up the windows can add to the experience...
There are plenty of things you can do indoors and what has come to be called the "experience" is honestly a brilliant way to create memories without being out in the lashing down rain. There are some common ones popping up everywhere, like Axe Throwing and Escape Rooms, and these can be brilliant and well worth checking out. Beyond that, Zip World is slowly growing around the UK and has many attractions that can work well in the rain like Bounce Below, the underground trampolines that are sure to be something you remember forever.
That being said, there are plenty of great experiences around the UK that will not only allow you to escape the damp but they may also be things you haven't even considered. One that I think is worth drawing attention to is a train ride on a classic locomotive, this worked well for us on our last holiday, taking a ride on the Talyllyn Railway which made for a nice half day out, we got to experience the charms of a steam locomotive and still got to see some beautiful views - all from our dry and comfortable cabin! We also had great success with our day out at a place many people don't know exists in the UK: firing ranges. You can go plinking with air rifles at any one of the ranges designated for them, and these will certainly test your accuracy and can be great fun, but we wanted something a little more like a full-fat gun experience. There are a handful of .22 rimfire ranges dotted around the country and these can give the feel and experience of firing an actual gun - the .22 round is a small round, shorter and about half the width of the traditional 9mm round, but still gives a nice pop without being heavy on recoil and as deafening as a larger calibre gun. A day at the range is a brilliant experience, and one I will remember for a long time.
This is just a taster of some of the great experiences you can find, but don't rule out some of the more traditional stuff - you might feel that something like museums all have the same feeling, but many have diversified. You can end up with science and technology centres that are engaging for all ages, to places like the JORVIK Viking Centre, the Black Country Museum and Blists Hill Victorian Town that are a much more interactive experience than a traditional museum. Aquariums, Cinemas, Theatres etc all work well on rainy days, but I think if you can find something a little different you can end up creating brilliant memories even on the bleakest of days...
Exploring the Local Town/City
Okay, I'm sure you could have figured this one out, and while hopping shop to shop is a little bleak when it is bucketing down, it can still be a decent way to spend a rainy day - hopping from doorway to doorway, canopy to trees and hopefully, you'll stay dry enough to have a good time. But there is plenty more you can do to make a day in town more exciting, so here are a few ideas that can hopefully add a little sunshine to a dull day:
- Secret Shopping - agree on a price, something quite low to help make it a challenge and then agree on a timeframe, 10 minutes up to 1 hour depending on the size of the town or city you are in. Split up, and buy each other a gift. Sounds simple, but if you've made the budget and time frame tight enough it can be a real fun challenge. Extend the challenge by adding additional criteria - requirements such as "must be themed to the town/city you're in" can really make it difficult.
- Food Crawl - I imagine most of you are familiar with the age-old concept of a pub crawl: start in one place, work your way to another place stopping in just about every pub as you go. Rainy days are a great excuse to stuff your face, so why not sample a little bit of what the local area has to offer? If you have a few options then plan a route from one to the next, and at each stop grab a little something to eat. From food trucks to pubs, restaurants to cafés: hit each spot and find something small to try - most places have light bites or side menus to pick from, so you'll end up trying a whole range of brilliant foods. In a small town with only one or two options? Pick somewhere that looks good and order the whole light bite or sides menu for a sampling platter you'll love!
- Drinks Crawl - I mentioned the pub crawl above, so why not give it a shot? If you're in a city with solid nightlife it can be a blast to hop from bar to bar, pub to pub as evening turns to night and grab a tipple in each one. Make each drink unique at each stop to keep things fresh - I recommend grabbing cocktails to really experience a range of flavours as you go. A few drinks deep and you won't even care about the rain...
- Amusements - If your local area has amusements then they can be a brilliant way to have a bit of fun on a rainy day, and these are ideal for all ages. We love amusements just as much as we did when we were kids, except now we have adult money and can spend all the 2ps we dreamed of spending when we were young 'uns. I don't care how old or young you are, I guarantee you can find some fun in an amusements. Plus, plenty are expanding beyond the traditional 2p machines and 1-arm bandits, with at the very least pool tables, air hockey tables and a few full arcade machines if not VR experiences and more!
Gear up and get on with it
I'm a firm believer that you can still enjoy a day out in the rain, it just requires a bit of prep beforehand. I will forever extol the advantages of things like overtrousers, a great waterproof jacket and correct hiking boots or even wellingtons to increase your resilience to the elements. It might not be the perfect blue sky adventure, but as long as you have everything you need to keep your body warm and dry, you'll certainly still have fun. To be honest, some places just look better in the rain like the glorious slate mines of Wales with their cold blue stone just coming to life in a downpour. Even mountains develop a certain ominous charm when they are framed by a torrent of rain. That being said, it is important you don't overstretch your abilities in such weather - travelling does become harder in adverse conditions, so I'd recommend against attempting to summit a mountain or travel huge distances if you aren't used to dealing with the elements.
So why not tailor your days out to the bad weather? Nature has plenty on offer that still works well in the rain, delving deep into dense woodland can offer a natural barrier that, while not perfectly waterproof, will certainly reduce the misery greatly. There are plenty of caves around that can be explored and are appointed with all of the fixtures to make them a safe tourist attraction and these can be brilliant to experience in their own regard. The caves beneath Nottingham ended up being a fascinating experience, one I would totally recommend to anyone stuck in on a miserable day. Just remember, don't go spelunking into unmanaged caves unless you're with someone who knows what they are doing - caves flood easily. Likewise, if you will be travelling around rivers beware of any flood warnings, but otherwise, go explore and, as long as you're geared appropriately, stay dry doing so! You may not be able to make the beach as alluring as it is on a glorious summer's day, but this will at least get you outdoors and enjoying what nature has to offer.
So there it is: 4 tips, plus plenty of ideas within, to hopefully get you out should your holiday be rained out. It is a frustrating thing to go through, to start your holiday off only to see a forecast loaded with day after day of solid rain - but rather than let mother nature win, with a little planning and a little research you can make great memories even without the sun shining on your shoulders. Even if you are a sun holiday, lounging on the beach and napping in the sun type, I promise, give some of these things a try and you will find at least one thing that makes up for a washed-out holiday.