Portsmouth city has a wealth of activities for darker days and when the wet weather sets in. There's a wealth of tourist attractions, museums, undercover shopping centres, and eateries to keep you occupied whilst sheltering from the rain.
Here's our list of some of the top ideas for you and things to do around Portsmouth when it's raining.
Head to the Spinnaker Tower to watch those pesky Cumulonimbus clouds
The Spinnaker Tower is taller than the London Eye at a sky-kissing 170 metres, the Tower stands proudly over Portsmouth Harbour, elegantly-shaped with an architectural nod to the spinnaker sail of its namesake, and offering a 350° panoramic view of the city at height closer to the clouds than the likes of Blackpool Tower and Big Ben.
The views from the three viewing decks, which feature the renowned Café in the Clouds and a glass floor daring you to walk on air 100 metres above sea level, stretch for 23 miles out to the horizon — breathtaking by day, and glitteringly lethargic by night.
Take cover and shoot up some friends at Action Stations
Action Stations is a high-tech, interactive indoor attraction located inside the superb Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The attraction features a unique series of physical challenges, simulators, and technological experiments which put visitors at the heart of the modern naval experience.
In addition, Action Stations houses Portsmouth's only laser quest arena set in a pirate stronghold and hijacked container ship, the theme was inspired by Action Stations' action movie, Command Approved with flashing lighting effects, billowing smoke, and an exhilarating atmosphere sure to get the blood pumping.
Shop under cover at Gunwharf Quays Designer Outlet
Gunwharf Quays is a shopping centre in Portsmouth which is home to over 90 premium retail outlet stores, a varied range of bars and restaurants, and a number of entertainment and leisure venues — all set against the stunning backdrop of historic Portsmouth Harbour.
After parking in Gunwharf's underground carparks, you'll be able to navigate your way around the outlet's shops which benefit from a covered walkway. Other attractions at the outlet to keep you out of the rain include the Spinnaker Tower, Hollywood Bowl bowling ally, Grosvenor Casino, and a whole host of renowned restaurants and cafes.
Get creative at Aspex Gallery
Whilst at Gunwharf Quays head over to Aspex Gallery. Aspex serves Portsmouth locals and visitors with opportunities to experience the most innovative and contemporary visual art, whilst supporting emerging artists, exposing and exploring the creative process, and engaging new audiences with visual arts.
The gallery, situated on the edge of Gunwharf Quays, features a shop, a café/bar, and spaces where workshops are regularly held for all ages. You can also buy a range of great gifts, crafts and greetings cards in the Aspex Craft & Design space.
Aspex events run throughout the year and the gallery offer many childrens themed events as well as projects for adults to get involved with.
Portsmouth City Museum
Portsmouth Museum explores different facets of Portsmouth’s rich and varied history; from the everyday to moments when the city has played its role in national and international events. A selection of some of the city’s art and design collections are also showcased.
The museum has a number of areas with ever changing themed displays, and also permanent fixtures based on the city's past. The highlight is the Sherlock Holmes exhibition that profiles Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest works and the nations most loved detective.
The Blue Reef Aquarium
What better place to spend a rainy day than immersed in an aquarium. The calming atmosphere of Portsmouth's Blue Reef is perfect for finding some refuge during a dark, damp day.
Blue Reef is home to many species of shark, one of the longest being the Black Tip Reef Shark, which is closely related to Tiger and Bull sharks. They live and hunt on coral reefs, and give birth to live young which can hunt as soon as they’re born.
Also living at Blue Reef are tropical amphibians, predatory piranhas, reptiles, and many more, plus a huge array of tropical fish showcased in a large aquarium which arcs overhead as you pass through the glass tunnel below.
Get lost inside the award winning Mary Rose Museum
The snug building takes the form of a finely crafted wooden ‘jewellery box’ with the hull at its centre and galleries running the length of the ship, each at a level corresponding to a deck level on the ship. Artefacts are displayed in such a way to provide visitors with an insight into what these decks would have looked like moments before the ship sank.
The museum contain’s one of the largest environmentally controlled display cases in the world containing the mirror image of the starboard side of the hull.
Interactive displays are strewn throughout the museum, proving entertaining and informative for all ages, and visitors will have the chance to gain a spectacular view of the conserved hull of the ship from a viewing lift.
Visitors can book for the Mary Rose Museum on-line via the Historic Dockyards website.
More rain free shopping at Cascades Shopping Centre
An undercover mall right at the centre of Portsmouth in the midst of the ever-busy Commercial Road high street, Cascades Shopping Centre is the most popular indoor retail destination in Portsmouth.
Home to countless flagship stores and high-street favourites, Cascades’ diverse selection of shops is spread out across a single-floor level, with some shops ascending or descending to lower or higher floors. Cascades Shopping Centre provides a Child Safe Zone scheme for customers shopping in the mall and Commercial Road Shopping Precinct.
Take the family swimming at the Mountbatten Centre
Mountbatten Centre is a modern sporting facility in the heart of Portsmouth which boasts an impressive 50metre swimming pool, a 150-station gym, a huge sports hall, two squash courts, an athletics track, a function suite, a friendly on-site café, and a crèche.
As well as the 50metre pool, which offers ASA-accredited swimming lessons and fun swimming activities, there’s a separate learner pool for all ages and abilities.
Fancy some alone time? Leave the kids at the crèche and head to the centre's spa featuring a sauna, steam room, and spa — perfect to revitalise and relax while the rain falls outside.
Watch the rain clouds roll in over the Solent from Southsea Beach Cafe
As well as having a fantastic view of the seafront as the rain passes you'll be able to warm up with some of Southsea Beach Cafe's freshly cooked food, enjoy one of Portsmouth's best hot chocolates, and heat your feet in front of one of the cafe's two log fires.
Breakfast options, served from 9:00am ’til 12:00pm noon, include porridge, Full Englishes, chorizo breakfasts, Eggs Benedicts, and gluten-free breakfast brioches, whilst the afternoon and evening menu offers up burgers straight from the grill, crispy salads, a wide range of toasties and tartines, and an array of tasty fish dishes.
Get snug at The Still & West pub in historic Old Portsmouth
The Still & West is a relaxing harbourside pub with stunning views overlooking the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour — a family-friendly gastro-pub with an impressive food menu and an excellent selection of real ales. There's nothing quick like getting some classic pub comfort food while the rain falls outiside.
It’s the perfect place to sit and soak up hundreds of years of maritime history on and around Spice Island, eating and drinking whilst enjoying panoramic views of the always-busy harbour mouth — all from inside the cosy rain-free public house.
Clarence Pier Amusements
Clarence Pier Southsea is one of the largest amusement parks on the south coast and boasts all manner of amusements, rides, and activities for all the family. The games arcade area is fully covered and is the perfect hideaway when the rain starts to fall.
The arcades and Pirate Pete's Indoor Adventure Playground are open all year. There's also plenty of food and drink outlets including an old school 100 seat Wimpy Express fast food restaurant. There's something about a good old classic arcade that takes you back to your childhood and envelops you in nostalgia.