While of course nearly everyone would prefer a nice sunny forecast instead of a rainy day while camping, that’s not always the reality. But, rain doesn’t have to mean the bitter end for your camping trip. With a little planning ahead, a rainy camping trip can still be a fun escape from the city and great family, friend, or couple bonding time. Plus, if you plan for rain, it will be sunny the whole time!
Here are 21 activities to do on a rainy day while camping:
1. Read a Book
Whether you are tent camping or RVing, reading a book is one of the easiest rainy day activities as well as one of the coziest. Pack books for everyone on the trip or download a wide variety of ebooks ahead of time.
I use the Libby app to borrow e-books from my library – it’s free and I have an endless supply of books. Just be sure to download the books ahead of time if you’ll be out of cell service.
If you want to avoid screen time, grab some books from a thrift store or bargain bin so you won’t have to worry about getting a library book or an expensive hardcover book wet or damaged.
2. Watch a Movie
Watching a movie is definitely easier in an RV, but it can still be done in a tent with a laptop or tablet. Just be sure to download a few different movie options in advance if you’ll be out of service/wifi range. Netflix lets you download movies and shows to watch offline on certain devices if you’re using the latest version of their app.
While screen time on a camping trip is likely not the goal, it can be a great way to ride out a quick rainstorm and you can still cozy up with your camping partner or the whole family.
3. Play Cards
Cards are super portable and there are dozens of different games to play with a standard deck: solitaire, war, poker, go fish, etc. Or, you can bring specialty decks like Uno, Phase 10, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme, Charades, and so forth. A rainy day camping can be a great opportunity to sit down and teach the kiddos how to play the classics or test out a new game.
4. Play Board Games
Board games are another classic rainy day diversion. Think checkers, chess, cribbage (can also be played without the board if you keep score on paper), Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Scrabble, Candyland, Battleship, etc.
For adults-only trips, you can make almost any game into a drinking game for extra fun. Heck, you could set up beer pong in an RV if you really wanted to! That counts as a board game, right? Many games even come in travel versions now so they are packable and extra durable.
5. Take a Nap
I know I’m not the only one who gets sunshine guilt, where I feel like if it’s sunny out I have to be outside enjoying it – but when it’s rainy and I don’t have any other obligations, I can nap guilt-free. And besides, a vacation is a perfect opportunity to rest, relax, and catch up on your sleep. The sound of rain on a tent or RV is so calming and can help lull you to sleep too.
6. Journal or Write
A rainy day is also a great time to catch up on journaling or write an account of your trip so far. I keep a captain’s log of my travels and love spending a rainy afternoon updating it. If journaling isn’t your thing, write a short story or a poem. Nothing sparks creativity like getting out in nature.
7. Color or Draw
Coloring and drawing supplies are easy to pack and can entertain both kids and adults for hours on a rainy day while camping. Pack sketch pads, coloring books, pencils, and markers in a storage clipboard – it keeps everything together and provides a hard surface to draw on.
A coloring book that has scenes from the area you’re camping in can be a fun way to document your travels without requiring amazing drawing skills. Plus, coloring is easy to do in a tent, RV, or on the picnic table under a canopy.
8. Puzzle or Activity Books
When I was a kid, there were certain activities that were generally reserved specifically for rainy days on camping trips, like puzzle and activity books. This made the activities a special treat and helped mitigate the disappointment of a rainy day. Activity books can include sudoku, logic problems, madlibs, crosswords, and so forth.
9. Put Together a Puzzle
Alright, so putting together a puzzle in a tent might be pretty hard. But, if you have an RV or a canopy you can put over the picnic table at the campsite, a puzzle is a great pastime. You can even opt for a puzzle that’s meant to be framed as a piece of art after it’s completed, and then you’ll have a fun keepsake from the trip.
10. Play Pen and Paper Games
When’s the last time you played analog tic-tac-toe or hangman? Bring back the classic grade school games on your camping trip. The beauty of these games is their simplicity – no screens or equipment required, just your brain, paper, and a pen.
11. Play Group Phone Games
If you were caught off guard by rain during your camping trip and didn’t prepare with any other activities, you can still have some good family fun with your phone by playing an interactive game like Heads Up. It’s similar to the party game Taboo and I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent playing this game on camping trips, even when it’s not raining.
12. Visit a Nearby Town
If the weather is really gnarly, sitting in the tent or under a canopy won’t really be a fun option. If that’s the case, hop in the nice and dry car to go for a drive and explore any nearby towns. They might have a museum, interesting restaurant, or brewery to check out!
When the weather really gets inclement, there’s no shame in bailing out of the campground for a few hours until it calms down. Plus, you never know what adventures you’ll find.
13. Go For a Rain Walk
If you brought your rain gear with you, throw it on and go for a walk or a short hike in the rain. There’s nothing more peaceful than hearing the rain trickle through leaves in the forest or watching it hit the surface of a lake. And you’ll likely have the trail to yourself. You could even go find a geocache for added adventure.
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14. Go Fishing
As long as there’s not an intense storm with lightning or high winds that could make being on the water unsafe, a rainy day might actually be the best time to fish. There will likely be fewer other anglers on the water, and rain can actually trigger a feeding frenzy and bring out the big lunkers.
You’ll likely get at least a bit wet while fishing anyways, so what’s a little rain?
15. Make Crafts
There are tons of easily packable craft projects that are great for rainy camping days, like origami, sticker stories, paper dolls, and so forth. Etsy is an excellent resource for finding craft projects – many of them you can purchase digitally and print out right at home before your trip. Pinterest also has a wealth of craft ideas.
16. Tell Stories
Hone your storytelling skills with a story night. You can either make up fun stories, tell true (embellished, of course) stories of past travels or adventures, or play story games where you go around the circle and each person adds the next part. Better yet, wait until it gets dark, sit around the lantern, and tell ghost stories – a staple of camping!
17. Dance In The Rain/Jump In Puddles
If you are camping somewhere very hot or dry, you might actually rejoice a little bit when it rains. Cool off with a rain shower, have a dance party, or find the biggest puddle you can and jump in it. Being clean is overrated.
18. Listen To or Make Music
Take the opportunity of a slow rainy day to listen to your favorite playlist or to finally check out a new album from your favorite artist. With the often hectic pace of modern life, it can be hard to take time to just sit and dedicate your attention fully to listening to music.
Or, if you or anyone in your camping party plays an instrument and/or sings, have a little jam session. Listening to friends play live music has been one of my very favorite parts of living on the road for the last three years.
19. Go Swimming or Kayaking
If it’s still warm enough to avoid hypothermia, swimming in the rain can be such an amazing experience. Bodies of water often retain their heat more so than the air too, so it might actually feel warmer in the water. Plus, you can’t get any wetter.
Kayaking or canoeing in the rain is also more fun than you might think. I was recently on a kayak adventure to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and it started dumping rain immediately after we got on the water. Some people chose to bail, but my boyfriend and I decided that since we were already soaked through, we might as well enjoy it. We had a blast!
20. Hang Out in a Campground Shelter or Rec Room
If you are staying in an organized campground, you might have access to a large group picnic shelter where you can stay dry but still be outdoors, or a rec room where you can hang out until the weather passes. KOAs in particular often have rec rooms with games like ping pong and Foosball, or other indoor spaces where you can escape a storm.
21. Plan Your Next Destination
A rainy day can also be the perfect time to brainstorm for your next adventure, whether it’s the next destination on your current trip or your next big international trip. As long as you have cell service, you can browse pictures, travel blogs, and other inspo sources to find your next destination. It’s never too early to start dreaming.
My Closing Thoughts
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to pass the time when it rains during a camping trip. My personal favorite is probably reading because I’ve always been a voracious reader and I cherish any uninterrupted time to blaze through a book. Sometimes I read travel accounts or memoirs to get ideas for future travels, so really it’s multitasking!
However, I’m never against a rainy outdoor adventure or visiting a new brewery or coffee shop to warm up during a storm.
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Cat is originally from Seattle, WA but has traveled around the US and Canada full-time in a self-converted school bus with her boyfriend Aaron since April of 2018. She enjoys rock climbing, paddleboarding, hiking, and generally being outdoors!