Bristol On a Rainy Day: 10 Things To Do
There’s no such thing as good and bad weather in Bristol because it’s a stunning place to visit, rain or shine. It is brimming with live music venues, great food, world-class attractions, diverse culture, and family-friendly fun. As one of the UK’s sunniest cities, it offers plenty of opportunities to explore its hundreds of parks and gardens, enjoy boating trips, or experience a fascinating ride on a hot air balloon.
However, Bristol also gets some kind of precipitation. Snow is rare, but rain falls here throughout the year, so there’s a chance you’ll experience a rainy day in Bristol during your visit. While you might have to reschedule your trip to Bristol Zoo or an inland-surfing spot, like The Wave, it doesn’t mean you should postpone your adventures and stay in your hotel room or apartment.
This colorful city has endless indoor activities to entertain and wear you out on a rainy afternoon. You can explore the museums and art galleries, shop, go indoor rock climbing, or go to a famous bowling alley.
For travelers on a budget, one of the places to go to is M Shed. It’s free entry, and it unveils the city’s fascinating history. There are also old buildings, heritage sites, and medieval churches, like the Bristol Cathedral. If you’re worried about your bags getting soaked when visiting Bristol on a rainy day, drop them off with secure Bounce luggage storage before going to your next destination.
Play Indoor Adventure Golf
Like any outdoor sports, golfers are at the mercy of the weather. So imagine looking forward to a weekend game only to meet a windy, wet day. But a rainy day in Bristol doesn’t have to stop you completely. Although you’re probably unable to play on the usual outdoor golf course, you can try indoor golf.
Located in the heart of Bristol, Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf is an indoor, adventure-packed mini-golf that features two 18-hole courses and a fully-stocked bar. Head to the top level of Cabot Circus and pick any of the two courses. The Secret Swamp Course will put your skills to the test, with the marshes adding to the challenge and offering a more immersive experience.
On the other hand, the Jungle Course is a favorite among beginners and even the most seasoned veterans. It’s an excellent course to begin your golfing journey with plenty of surprises along the way that players will love.
Discover Life on Space at Aerospace Bristol
Take your kids and embark on an exciting journey of discovery and flight through aviation history at Aerospace Bristol. Be ready to see some of the earliest airplanes, satellites, rockets, and helicopters, and enjoy hands-on activities with your little ones. No matter your age, you are sure to have a blast here that you’ll forget it’s pouring outside.
One of the highlights of your visit will be the chance to step aboard the Concorde Alpha Foxtrot. It’s the last of the legendary supersonic passenger jets to be made and definitely the last to fly. But before getting aboard, you’ll be able to watch a show, including three short clips recounting its rich history. There are also galleries with hundreds of exhibitions and interactive displays, from small aircraft models to rockets, helicopters, and missiles.
For a refreshing break, refuel in the café and grab delicious snacks, cakes, sandwiches, and hot meals. Every item on the menu is freshly made on-site and locally sourced when possible. There’s also a gift shop if you want souvenirs or unique gifts, including toys, models, cards, books, and more.
Shop at Park Street
If you’d rather spend your rainy day in Bristol on a shopping spree, a shopping destination you should go to first is Park Street. It’s one of the city’s most celebrated and iconic shopping streets with independent shops and boutiques, leading brands, and some of the best bars and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a unique piece of jewelry or an interesting gift for your loved ones at home, Park street is packed with different items you won’t find anywhere else.
Moreover, it is home to clubs, books shops, cafes, and even incredible city attractions. If you start at the bottom of the start, the stunning College Green and magnificent Bristol Cathedral will catch your eyes. You don’t have to walk far once you get to the area because it is lined with shops, allowing you to shop until you drop while staying dry. But to be sure, wear your comfortable waterproof boots when heading to the area.
Marvel at the Wills Memorial Building
Located at the top of Park Street on Queens Road, the Wills Memorial Building is a real Bristol icon. It opened its doors in 1925, featuring a 65-meter tower, making it one of the awe-inspiring buildings in the city skyline. It houses Bristol University’s School of Earth Sciences and the School of Law and hosts public events and graduation ceremonies.
Wills Memorial Building tours are available every first Saturday and Wednesday of the month for an hour to an hour and a half. Each tour allows visitors to see behind the building and tower’s grand façade while witnessing the elegance of the Council Chamber, the Great Hall, and the libraries. Guides will give an insight into its history while viewing from the top of the tower.
Discover History at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
History buffs and art lovers won’t mind the rainy days in Bristol after spending hours in the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. After all, what’s a better way to spend a wet day than being in a great building and seeing excellent collections of art, history, and nature on display? It’s like a dream come true, especially for historians!
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery features nineteen galleries over three floors, telling the story of the world in every display. Here, you’ll learn about ancient civilizations and cultures and appreciate human creativity and invention through artifacts and different archaeological finds from around the world. Apart from the main galleries and permanent collections, there is also a virtual exhibit available for anyone who wants to get a glimpse of spectacular art pieces from the comfort of their home.
It's essential to note that Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is actually part of Bristol Museums. It includes four other museums you can enter for free and historic houses, such as The Georgian House Museum, M Shed, Blaise Museum, and The Red Lodge Museum.
Appreciate Contemporary Arts at Arnolfini
Since its establishment in 1961, Arnolfini has become an international center of contemporary arts. It presents a diverse program of visual art, performance, dance, film, and music to local and international audiences in the city center on Bristol’s Harbourside.
Arnolfini started as a warehouse in Bristol’s docks in the 19th century. Today, it features cutting-edge performances and visual art, perfect for a rainy day to hang out with friends or family. Apart from the stunning artwork and live performances, there’s also a cafe bar and waterside seating area for relaxing.
Arnolfini has various exhibits and shows throughout the year. One of their upcoming exhibits is called Forest: Wake This Ground. This exhibit features the works of major artists, writers, filmmakers, and composers. Meanwhile, a collection of highly complex and textured bindi drawings from one of India’s most prominent contemporary artists Bharti Kher will also be shown in an exhibition called Bharti Kher: The Body Is A Place.
Visit The Red Lodge Museum
For a mix of historical and contemporary experiences, The Red Lodge Museum is a perfect place to visit, even on a rainy day. It was once an ancient house but has now become a fascinating cultural attraction, drawing thousands of people across the globe. Once you pass through Park Row, it would be impossible not to notice The Red Lodge Museum, thanks to its standout architecture.
The Museum offers a virtual tour of its rich interiors using interactive panoramic images on its website. However, nothing beats the personal experience since you can see and feel the different attractions. Once inside The Great Oak Room, you’ll witness the highly sophisticated fashion sense of The Great Age of Monarchy from the 1720s Family Home. A portion of the museum was transformed to look like a Victorian Reform School, taking visitors on a journey through the wonders of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Engage Your Minds at We The Curious
We The Curious is a science center and educational facility conveniently nestled on the historic Bristol Harbourside. It’s a science venue that will ignite your curiosity and challenge your ideas through its interactive exhibits, activities, and events aimed at exploring your questions in mind.
Everyone of all ages and interests will find this a captivating space where you can experiment, discover, and play. It features more than 300 exhibits, taking you on a wonderful journey of learning, discovery, and exploration. There are even live shows and a 3D Planetarium, which is the only one you can find in the UK. It allows you to see what’s inside the nebula, see Earth from an astronaut’s perspective, and enjoy a magical journey to the stars. These and more can be enjoyed from the comfort of your seat in the science museum’s Planetarium.
Pretend Like a Sailor at Brunel's SS Great Britain
Perhaps, one of the must-visit tourist spots in Bristol you don’t want to miss, whether it’s a rainy or a sunny afternoon, is Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Stepping on board the world’s first iron-hulled screw-propelled passenger ship to cross the ocean is like entering a time machine.
Launched in 1843, the SS Great Britain played a crucial role in Britain’s leadership in maritime commerce. It was used as a passenger ship and later a cargo vessel until it finally retired from the ocean and returned to Bristol, its original dock of origin, 127 years after its launch. Today, it serves as the city’s number one attraction, providing a real atmospheric experience to visitors.
When you wander around this iconic Victorian ship, you’ll get a sneak peek into the past and see the life of those who once considered it their home while in the middle of the ocean. The luxury ship comes alive with lights, sounds, and even smells, allowing you a more immersive experience.
And if the rain stops and you’re feeling brave, take the chance to go aloft and step into the shoes of a real Victorian sailor. Climb the foot ropes and go out of the main yard, taking you 9 meters out across the Great Western Dockyard below. Here, you’ll enjoy a unique view of the city of Bristol.
See the Wonders of the Sea at Bristol Aquarium
Come face to face with marine creatures and dive into the deep end at Bristol Aquarium. The aquarium features over forty naturally-themed displays and thousands of enchanting aquatic animals. These include sting rays, seahorses, tropical sharks, piranhas, puffer fish, and more. It also takes pride in being the only aquarium in the United Kingdom to feature a massive botanical house called the Urban Jungle. It is home to hundreds of exotic and unique plant and tree species worldwide.
If you want to discover behind the scenes, look in the Nursery tanks to see those baby sharks, little seahorses, and rays before they’re ready to explore the real ocean world. You’ll also witness how sharks and octopuses are trained, providing them with an array of enrichment to keep them active and stimulated.
Visiting Bristol When it Rains
If you're visiting Bristol for the first time and the weather isn’t exactly what you hoped for, it’s easy to be discouraged and feel gloomy. But don’t despair.
With tons of rainy day activities and indoor adventures in Bristol, you can still have fun and be entertained despite the dark and drizzly day. So grab your umbrella and head out because plenty of rainy day attractions await you in and around the city.
Looking for even more things to do in Bristol on a rainy day? Check out these other guides: