It’s winter in the Lowcountry, and that means the forecast is calling for rain just about every week. This will continue into the spring; and, for some reason, it seems like the rainiest days are almost always Saturdays and Sundays. As a result, many residents (and visitors) find themselves looking for rainy day activities in Charleston this time of year.
Fortunately, while much of the Lowcountry lifestyle (and most Charleston vacations) revolves around being outside, there are plenty of options for rainy day activities in Charleston. Whether you are looking for a way to get some exercise (or for your kids to burn off some energy), or you are looking for a more relaxed rainy day experience, there are plenty of places you can go with just a short drive no matter where you live (or where you are staying) in the Charleston area.
What Can You Do When It’s Raining in Charleston?
So, what can you do if it’s raining in Charleston? Here are 10 ideas for getting out of the house and having some fun on a rainy day:
When was the last time you went bowling? If it’s been a while (or perhaps decades), going to the bowling alley on a rainy day can be a nostalgic experience. It can also be great fun for the whole family. Your kids can use the bumpers so they hit the pins every time; and, whether you are an experienced bowler or you are just going to have some fun on a rainy day, you can enjoy working on your throw (or “delivery,” in bowling lingo) and improving your score game after game.
Here are two places you can go bowling in Charleston on a rainy day:
- Ashley Lanes Tavern (1568 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard in West Ashley)
- The Alley (131 Columbus Street (parking across King Street) in downtown Charleston)
While many Charleston residents are familiar with the outdoor climbing wall at James Island County Park, there is also an indoor climbing gym on the peninsula. Coastal Climbing, located at 708 King Street, is an indoor bouldering gym that has undergone extensive renovations in recent years.
Bouldering is a type of climbing that does not involve roping in with a harness. Instead, the walls are much shorter than the wall at James Island County Park, and the floor is covered with thick gym pads. So, if you get to the top, you simply jump down. Coastal Climbing allows kids starting at age 5 with adult supervision, and it has a standard fitness gym as well. You can rent climbing shoes and a chalk bag if you don’t have your own.
If you’ve never been climbing it’s great exercise, and you will see that some of the color-coded routes are much more difficult than others. Regardless of your age and fitness level, don’t be afraid to start with the easiest boulder problems—this is where everyone starts—and pace yourself so that your forearms don’t burn out too quickly.
3. Downtown Charleston’s Museums
There are several museums in downtown Charleston, and all of these are good options when you’re looking for things to do on a rainy day. Some are free, some accept donations, and some have entrance fees; and, if cost is a consideration, you can check the museum’s website before you go. Some of the museums you can visit when it’s raining in Charleston include:
- Children's Museum of the Lowcountry (25 Ann Street)
- Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center (340 Concord Street)
- Gibbes Museum of Art (135 Meeting Street)
- Mace Brown Museum of Natural History (202 Calhoun Street)
- The Charleston Museum (360 Meeting Street)
4. Fun Park
There are two fun parks in the Charleston area that have arcades, bumper cars, virtual reality experiences, mini-bowling, and more. While you won’t be able to use the go-karts or play mini golf outside, both parks have plenty of options for hours of indoor entertainment on a rainy day in Charleston.
- Charleston Fun Park (3255 N. Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant)
- Frankie’s Fun Park (5000 Ashley Phosphate Road in North Charleston)
5. Ice Skating
When you think about things to do in Charleston, going ice skating might not come to mind. But, Charleston has a large indoor ice skating rink, and lacing up some skates is a fun alternative for a rainy day activity in Charleston.
Located at 7665 Northwoods Boulevard in North Charleston, the Carolina Ice Palace has public skating sessions on weekdays and weekends, and both adults and children can rent skates. Just be sure to check the schedule before you go, as you won’t be able to skate if there are lessons or a hockey game in session.
6. See a Movie
Seeing a movie is a popular rainy day activity in Charleston; and, depending on where you live in the area, you have several theaters to choose from. If you are visiting from out of town, the theaters on James Island and in Mount Pleasant will likely be your closest options. All four of these theaters show new releases, and some do showings of older movies as well.
While movie ticket prices (like just about everything else) have gone up in recent years, it can be significantly cheaper to see a matinee. You can bring your own snacks to cut down on the cost of seeing a movie in the theater as well.
- Citadel Mall Stadium 16 (2072 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard in West Ashley)
- Northwoods Stadium Cinema (2181 Northwoods Boulevard in North Charleston)
- Regal Palmetto Grande (1319 Theatre Drive in Mount Pleasant)
- Terrace Theater (1956D Maybank Highway on James Island)
7. South Carolina Aquarium
Located on the Peninsula, the South Carolina Aquarium is another good option when looking for things to do on a rainy day in Charleston. You’ll have to make a short walk from the parking garage, so you’ll still need to bring your umbrella, but once you’re there you can spend hours inside. The aquarium has a small café, too, so you can plan to have lunch while you’re there.
Permanent fixtures at the aquarium include the stingray tank (where children can feed the stingrays for five dollars), the sea turtle hospital and rehabilitation center, the sea star and urchin touch tank upstairs, and numerous live animal exhibits. The aquarium also has an interactive children’s area; and, if you bring some quarters and pennies, you can use one of the penny presses on the second floor to take home a unique (and cheap) souvenir.
The South Carolina Aquarium is located at 100 Aquarium Wharf. The parking garage is located at 24 Calhoun Street.
Topgolf opened in North Charleston (at 5000 Topgolf Way) in 2023. This huge facility has several options for indoor activities on a rainy day; and, with multiple food options on-site, you can go in the morning and stay well into the afternoon. There are activities for children (and adults) of all ages, including activities that the whole family can enjoy.
9. Trampoline Park
There are three large trampoline parks in the Charleston area, located in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, and West Ashley. Trampoline parks are good options for families on rainy days in Charleston when the kids need to get out of the house and burn off some energy. The Charleston area’s trampoline parks are:
- Flight Adventure Park (8551 Rivers Avenue in North Charleston)
- Sky Zone Trampoline Park (411 Wando Park Boulevard in Mount Pleasant)
- Summit Adventure Park (1964 Ashley River Road in West Ashley)
10. Go Outside!
Just because it’s raining, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay inside. While you might not want to spend all day out in the rain, walking on an empty beach on an overcast day is a unique experience you won’t soon forget. You almost certainly won’t hit any traffic on your way there, and the restaurants will all still be open.
Or, if you have small kids, get everyone’s rain gear on and just go outside. Your kids are almost guaranteed to have fun splashing in the puddles around your neighborhood; and, when you get back home, everyone can get their favorite warm beverage and get cozy on the couch.
More Options for Rainy Day Activities in Charleston
Those were 10 options for rainy day activities in Charleston that mostly involved going somewhere you don’t normally go (or perhaps somewhere you’ve never been). But, getting the most out of a rainy day doesn’t necessarily have to mean straying far from home.
No matter where you live (or where you are staying) in Charleston, there are plenty of free and low-cost options close to home. For example:
- Play a Card Game or Board Game – Playing a card game or board game is a great way to pass the time on a rainy day in Charleston. You can dig out one of your old favorites; or, if you are on vacation (or you just want to try something new), you can rent some games for the weekend.
- Get Some Exercise at the Gym (or at Home) – A rainy day is as good an excuse as any to get out your exercise mat or head to the gym. If it’s not too chilly outside, you can open your window or screen door and enjoy the sound and smell of the rain while you do some exercises at home. Or, since most people stay home when it's raining in Charleston, you may find that you have your neighborhood or local gym mostly (if not entirely) to yourself.
- Go Out for Lunch or a Treat (or Both) – Going out when it’s raining in Charleston doesn’t have to mean spending hours out of the house. You can also break up the day by going out for lunch or a treat (or both). Give your favorite local restaurant or café some business on a rainy day; and, if you can, give the local behind the counter an extra tip since business is likely to be slow.
- Knock Some Items Off Your To-Do List – Another way to get the most out of a rainy day in Charleston is to knock some items off of your to-do list. Take a few minutes to organize your day, then see how much you can get done if you put on a playlist and leave your phone on the charger. Whether you commit yourself to a couple of hours, the whole morning, or the entire day, we’ll bet you can get more done than you think.
- Watch a Movie at Home – Finally, while you can go out to see a movie, you can also watch a movie right at home. Pick something from your Watch List; or, if you have an old collection of DVDs (and a DVD player that still works), get nostalgic with one of your old favorites. Make some popcorn, grab a blanket, and enjoy spending the day at home whether you are by yourself, with your significant other, with friends, or with family.
That’s it, that’s our list of 15 rainy day activities for Charleston residents (and visitors). While we know there are plenty more, we tried to focus on options that you can do just about whenever, and that don’t require much (if any) advance planning. If you have ideas you’d like to share—maybe a local business that deserves a shoutout—we encourage you to let us know @life_charleston.
Map of Places to Go When It’s Raining in Charleston
If you’re interested in visiting one of the places we included on our list of rainy day activities in Charleston, you can use our map to see where they are. We’ve included the addresses above, but it can be helpful to see your options if you aren’t familiar with their locations. You can also click or tap on each location to get directions on your computer, tablet, or phone.
Again, we hope you’ve found this article helpful. We’ve tried to make it as practical as possible, and we encourage you to bookmark it and come back when you need more ideas for more rainy days in Charleston.
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