Skip to content

14 Things to do in Dorset in the Rain

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Take a look at my privacy policy for more information.

a three small white wooden rowing boats on a beach with dark clouds overhead - things to do in dorset in the rain

There are loads of great things to do in Dorset in the rain, so grab your wellies and get out there…

There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling when the grey clouds roll in while you’re on holiday. And since the British weather is often less than cooperative, rainy days are rarely a surprise. But they needn’t ruin your holiday!

If you feel like braving the elements, there are plenty of spots for muddy puddle rambles in the countryside or windswept coastal walks. Just pick a route, get outside, and explore. But if you prefer to escape the rain and find some more sheltered activities, I’ve got you covered.

This is a list of some of the best rainy-day activities in Dorset. Soak up some history at a stately home, let the kids go wild at an indoor soft play, or get soaked on your own terms at an indoor water park!

There’s plenty to keep you busy when the weather takes a turn for the worse, so before you get comfy on the sofa, check out some of these brilliant suggestions…

READ MORE: 15 Top Things to do in Dorset

Things to do in the Rain in Dorset – Map

14 Things to do in Dorset in the Rain

1. Explore a Stately Home

Dorset has dozens of historic buildings and stately homes to discover, and these are perfect places to escape the rain and soak up a little English history! Discover how the nobility of old once lived, or wander through the kitchens to get a glimpse of servant life.

Athelhampton House - a large historic mansion made from grey stone with a red tiled roof and a very neat grassy lawn in front on a sunny day with blue sky above
Athelhampton House

Many of the stately homes in Dorset feature vast collections of historic art, antique furniture, or even exotic curios from around the world – such as at the Russel-Cotes Museum in Bournemouth.

Below, I’ve listed a few of the best-known stately homes in Dorset for the next time you need to while away a rainy afternoon. For more info, check out my in-depth guide to all of Dorset’s stately homes here and my round-up of Dorset Castles here.

  • Athelhampton House and Gardens, Dorchester
  • Highcliffe Castle, Highcliffe
  • Kingston Lacy, Wimborne Minster
  • Lulworth Castle, Wareham
  • Mapperton House and Gardens, Bridport
  • Max Gate, Dorchester
  • Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth
  • Sherborne Castle, Sherborne

2. Dive into Sea Life at an Aquarium

A little girl wearing a white dress with blue flowers and a lilac cardigan toaching the glass of a large tank with many fish and two small orange starfish on the other side of the glass near her hand - at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth Dorset

What to do in Dorset when it’s too rainy to enjoy the coast and beaches? Find out more about what’s going on beneath the surface of the ocean at one of our excellent aquariums, of course!

The SEA LIFE Centre in Weymouth is one of the most famous attractions in the county – and a popular day out for families. At this huge aquarium, you can see seals, penguins, sharks, and more. Many of the larger animals, such as the sea turtles, are rescued, and the Centre is doing some really great conservation work. This is one of the best places to take the kids in Dorset, no matter the weather.

All the exhibits are in separate buildings, so you do have to go outside to get between each one. But most of the best stuff to see is indoors – while the huge outdoor play area can still be good fun if it’s not too wet.

On the other hand, the Oceanarium in Bournemouth is entirely indoors. It’s slightly smaller, but also has an amazing collection of marine life. Including penguins, crocodiles, stingrays, sharks, and loads more. So it’s an ideal place to take the kids on a rainy afternoon.

3. Play Crazy Golf at Mr Mulligan’s in Bournemouth

Interior of Mr Mulligans Indoor Golf in Bournemouth, a 2D fake city scape and a grey golf hole on the ground surrounded bymulticoloured LED lihting witha  drinks menu on the table nearest the camera - things to do in dorset in the rain
Image Credit: Mr Mulligans Bournemouth

Mr Mulligan’s crazy golf centre is one of the most fun things to do in Bournemouth! And it’s all indoors, so this is the perfect rainy-day activity in Bournemouth. There are three uniquely themed courses to choose from, each with incredible and creative scenery and props. Immerse yourself in a real-life comic book, an otherwordly light experience, or putt your way through an apocalyptic crash scene.

4. Head to the Bovington Tank Museum in Wareham

close up of the tyre of a large army tank at the Tank Museum in Bovington

The Tank Museum at Bovington Camp, about a mile outside of Wool, is the world’s biggest collection of tanks! With over 300 armoured fighting vehicles across 10 exciting exhibitions, you can learn all about tanks, their crews, and their history – from 1916 to the present day. Interactive exhibits, special events, and dress-up sections mean this is a fun day out for all ages. And it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Dorset in the rain!

5. Get Wet at Splashdown in Poole

exterior of a large indoor water park with a grey roof and several long flumes in different colours around the outside of the building. Things to do in Dorset in the rain.
Image Credit: Splashdown

Splashdown is one of the main attractions at Tower Park in Poole, and it’s a brilliant family day out in any weather! This is an indoor waterpark with flumes, slides, and other water rides. From gentle tyre slides to intense flumes and a giant “infinity bowl” slide, there’s something for everyone.

6. Admire the Sculptures at Sandworld in Weymouth

Next door to the SEA LIFE Centre, Sandworld is another indoor attraction that makes a perfect day out for families – especially on a rainy day in Dorset!

This unique gallery is filled with sand sculptures created by artists from around the world! Many of the sculptures are of pop culture figures such as cartoon characters and movie scenes, so it’s great fun to explore. There’s also a sandpit, where kids can work on their own creations.

7. Visit a Dorset Brewery on a Rainy Day

Interior of the Lyme Regis Brewery in Dorset, looking down from up high at the shop floor with black painted brick walls and a large white mural of a sea creature on one wall. there is a long wooden chair on the wood floor with chairs made from silver beer barrels and the walls are lined with wooden shelves stocked with beers.
Image Credit: Lyme Regis Brewery

If you’re looking for things to do in Dorset in the rain WITHOUT the kids, this one’s for you! Head to one of the many incredible local breweries to try some unique beers, or take a tour to see how it all gets made. I’ve got a full blog post rounding up all the breweries you can visit in Dorset here, so check that out and take your pick!

8. Tour Dorchester’s Museums

Exterior of the Shire Hall museum Dorcheste, a large grey stone manor with large windows and blue sky above. Things to do in Dorset in the rain
Shire Hall Dorchester. Image credit: Marcin Wisniewski

Museums make the perfect rainy day activity, and Dorset has plenty of great ones to choose from. But if you want to spend a day visiting a few different museums in one place, the historic county town of Dorchester has more than its fair share of museums. There’s sure to be at least a couple you’ll enjoy on the list below. Don’t forget to check out all these other things to do in Dorchester while you’re in town.

  • Hardy’s Cottage – the birthplace and first home of the famous local author Thomas Hardy.
  • Dorset County Museum – an excellent museum focusing on local history.!
  • The Keep Military Museum – an extensive military museum housed inside a castle-like keep dating from 1879.
  • Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum –  an immersive glimpse into local history where visitors can explore the original cells, courtroom, and dock. 
  • The Dinosaur Museum Dorchester – a collection of dinosaur skeletons and real fossils, as well as life-sized reconstructions. 
  • Teddy Bear Museum – a small museum home to over 100 kinds of teddy bears!
  • Tutankhamun Exhibition – an incredibly accurate recreation of the tomb and treasures discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

9. Visit one of Dorset’s Leisure Centres

Another perfect rainy day activity is to visit a leisure centre, and again, Dorset has plenty to enjoy. Below are a couple of the best options…

  • Warmwell Leisure at Warmwell Holiday Park – indoor pool with waterslide, as well as a roller rink and dry ski slope.
  • Jurassic Fun Centre at Freshwater Beach Holiday Park, near Bridport – three swimming pools, including one with water slides, water cannons and other apparatus, as well as a hot tub, sauna and steam room and a bowling alley upstairs.
  • Queen Elizabeth Leisure Centre, Wimborne – a 25m swimming pool, 3 gyms, sauna and steam room, climbing wall, and more.
  • Ferndown Leisure Centre, near Bournemouth – indoor pool and a gym.

10. Have a Climbing Adventure at RockReef

Clip n climb walls inside RockReef climbing centre in Bournemouth with a few figures climbing the walls in a line
Image Credit: RockReef

RockReef is an adventure activity complex situated at the end of the pier in Bournemouth. There are 28 themed indoor climbing walls of varying difficulties, as well as a vertical drop slide, a high ropes aerial obstacle course, and much more. So there’s something for everyone – and it’s the perfect place for kids to boost their confidence by learning some new skills!

11. Take the Kids to an Indoor Soft Play Area – Perfect for a Rainy Day in Dorset!

Parents will know there’s very little that’s trickier than trying to entertain small kids on a rainy day. Especially if the kids are full of energy and need to burn it off.

Indoor soft play areas are the perfect antidote, as the kids can run riot in padded safety while you supervise with a coffee nearby! Below, you’ll find some of the best indoor soft play areas around Dorset ready for next time you’re confronted with a rainy day…

12. Try an Escape Room

Escape rooms are IDEAL rainy day activities. If you haven’t heard of the escape room phenomenon, these are live, interactive experiences where you’ll find yourself locked in a room and need to escape. You have a set amount of time to solve puzzles, find clues, and figure out how to beat the room.

Usually, you need to work as a team to escape, so these are perfect for groups of friends or families with older kids. Here are a few of the best escape rooms to try in Bournemouth next time it rains. Or, even if it doesn’t!

13. Watch a Show at a Dorset Theatre

Exterior of the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis next to the seafront with a bit of rocky beach and the blue sea to the right and some cliffs visible in the distance on a very sunny day with clear blue sky above.
Image Credit: Marine Theatre Lyme Regis

When it’s raining outside, you might feel like doing nothing more than curling up in front of the TV. But why not mix things up by catching a show at a local theatre instead?

Dorset has a lot of really great pavillions and theatres dotted around the county, showing everything from stand-up comedians and musicians to plays and ballets. Support the local am-dram society, or catch a big name at one of the larger venues such as Bournemouth’s BIC. There’s always something on and it’s a great way to get yourself out of the house (or hotel) while the weather is rubbish!

The below list is by no means extensive, but here are some of the best theatre venues across the county:

  • Bournemouth International Centre (BIC), Bournemouth
  • Bournemouth Pavillion Theatre, Bournemouth
  • The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne
  • Weymouth Pavilion, Weymouth
  • Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis
  • Bridport Electric Palace, Bridport

14. Relax at a Spa

a woman's legs dangling into a bubbling hot tub viewed from above - Spas in Dorset for a rainy day

Finally, if you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Dorset in the rain that’s just for grown-ups, why not head to a spa? Make a day of it at one of the fabulous spas listed below, or book a treatment to really pamper yourself. Want a longer experience? Check out my list of Dorset spa hotels and get away from it all for a couple of nights.

What other fun things to do in Dorset in the rain can you think of? Share in the comments!

Pin this post!

Things to do in Dorset in the Rain

2 thoughts on “14 Things to do in Dorset in the Rain”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *