No sun definitely doesn’t have to mean zero fun. We’ve already explained how to camp in the rain so you know that wet weather doesn't have to put a damper on your plans to get outdoors, but what do you do when you actually get there? Do you just carry on as usual, find a new pastime, or huddle inside your tent the whole time? In this article, we provide 12 camping activities for rainy days that range from adventurous to contemplative to help you make the most of your trip no matter what the skies are doing.
1. Go hiking in the rain
Your first option is not to change your plans at all. If the conditions aren’t dangerous – meaning, it’s just a light or moderate shower without lightning or flooding – why not just get your waterproof jacket on and get out on a hike after all? Read our tips on how to go hiking in the rain to make sure you’re well prepared.
2. Go wild swimming
If it’s not too cold out and you’re already wet anyway, why not take a dip in a nearby lake? Wild swimming has been connected to all sorts of mental health benefits, and doing it in the rain can be especially calming. That said, you should not get in the water if there is lightning in the forecast.
3. Go kayaking
If there’s no lightning in the forecast and it’s not too cold, water sports generally are a great camping activity for rainy days because you’re likely to get wet doing them anyway. If there’s a lake or river nearby, or you're camping at the beach, look into renting a kayak or canoe and exploring on the water.
4. Go fishing
The fish aren’t afraid of a little rain so if there’s no lightning, get your best waders and waterproofs on and go cast a line or two. Just after the rain, there will be lots of flies at the surface of the water and the fish will really be biting.
5. Play cards and board games
If camping for you is more about hanging out and relaxing, you should always bring a tarp or pop-up shelter. Then you can still have a campfire in the rain and hangout and play games. Cards are compact and easy to bring along on any camping trips and dice games like Yahtzee work too, especially if it’s a little windy.
6. Play charades
Need a game that doesn’t require transporting boxes and pieces of paper blowing away in the wind? Charades is the perfect, hilarious low-apparatus game and can work with any size of group.
7. Have a jam session
If there are any budding musicians in your group, have a jam session. Gather under your shelter and work out classics like “Fool in the Rain.”
8. Read a great book
A good camping trip involves lots of down time and you should never set off without a good book. Hang out under your shelter or even inside your tent and get stuck into one of the 10 best hiking books to inspire your next adventure – as soon as the sun comes out!
9. Visit a nearby town
You might have gone camping to get away from civilization, but there can also be some really cold and interesting small towns once you get off the beaten path. Consider exploring a hidden gem and maybe warming up in a great local cafe with a luxurious cup of coffee that you didn’t have to make yourself at camp.
10. Go bird watching
Birds change their behavior when it rains so it can be a really interesting time to go bird watching, especially if you brought your binoculars. Read our guide on how to bird watch – the benefits may surprise you.
11. Do some nature journaling
Okay, this one only works if it’s not too wet to get a pen and paper out, but nature journaling has some incredible health benefits and again, nature behaves differently in the rain. Instead of hiding from the elements, why not dive in and interact with them by recording what’s happening around you in words or drawings? Read our article on how to get started with nature journaling.
12. Take a tent nap
Exhausted just reading this list? According to the University of Melbourne, the sound of rainfall can induce brain wave states associated with deep relaxation. No one will argue with you if you want to zip up your tent, crawl inside your cozy sleeping bag and catch some shuteye.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.