Category: Beach Holidays

The Best Things to Do in Dorset When it’s Raining

Poole Harbour near Sandbanks, Poole, Bournemouth, Dorset

Dorset is one of the most popular places to stay in southwest England, renowned for its Jurassic Coast and beautiful green countryside. Over half of Dorset is established as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so it is an undeniably stunning location for those seeking a countryside retreat in the UK. 

There are many popular tourist attractions in Dorset, including Golden Cap, Chesil Beach, Durdle Door and Pulpit Rock. These spots, alongside many of Dorset’s other attractive scenery, bring people from all over the UK to explore this county further. 

However, as England is famous for its unpredictable weather, a trip to Dorset won’t always guarantee glorious sunshine. Therefore, we have put together our top recommendations of what to do if it rains, so if the weather isn’t on your side you can still visit Dorset and enjoy plenty of things to do!

Wander Around a Stately Home and Gardens 

When visiting Dorset, you will be spoilt for choice with the number of stately homes, ancient abbeys and grand castles on display. There are so many to choose from, you won’t have to worry about the rain making an appearance, as wandering through the historic buildings is a great way to spend a day in Dorset whilst remaining dry!

Athelhampton House and Gardens, Dorchester

Athelhampton House is tucked away in the centre of Dorset. The beautiful Tudor Manor House is over 500 years old and its impressive architecture is a perfect example of the designs of the era.

If you are seeking a peaceful day out in Dorset, Athelhampton Gardens and fountains will give you just that. Stroll through the gardens and then head inside if the rain comes to enjoy the history that lies here. 

Visiting Athelhampton is a great way to spend a rainy day in Dorset as there are also restaurants located at the manor, providing the perfect excuse to stop off and enjoy some food after all the exploring is done.

Highcliffe Castle, Christchurch

Highcliffe Castle is a must-see when visiting Dorset. Its romantic architecture tells the story of this Grade 1 listed building and how it has remained prominent in today’s history. 

The impressive castle was once destroyed by fires, which then required intensive restoration in order to bring it back to life. Today it sits by the coast, surrounded by incredible gardens and great views across Christchurch Bay to the Isle of Wight.

Max Gate, Dorchester

Max Gate is a Victorian home that was designed by Thomas Hardy. Visiting this beautiful historic building allows the opportunity to explore this sophisticated townhouse and find out more about the famous poet who once resided here. 

Some of Thomas Hardy’s most famous novels were born within the four walls of Max Gate. As you stroll through the house you can envision Hardy getting to work, creating his renowned fiction. 

The house is now owned and managed by the National Trust, which is perfect for those looking for guided tours, offering guests an abundance of knowledge about the history of Max Gate.

Chettle House, Chettle

Chettle House looks as though it has been taken straight from a period drama situated in the north of Dorset, in Chettle village. The red brick manor was originally designed by Thomas Archer back in 1710, and still reflects the wealth and prosperity of its historic owners today.

Visiting this 18th-century home is a great way to explore the history here, as well as the stunning gardens that surround the house if the rain eases up. Learn about the restoration of the property and how it has become a beautiful part of Dorset’s history. 

There are many other stately homes, manor houses and castles situated in Dorset, all of which offer their own unique setting and story. Some of the other well-known tourist spots include; Edmondsham House and Gardens, Lulworth Castle, Sherborne Castle, Stock Gaylard House and Wolfeton House. 

Have an Underwater Adventure at an Aquarium 

Dorset is home to a few great Aquariums, which all offer the perfect environment for a rainy day in England. This is a great day out for the whole family, as you can learn about plenty of underwater creatures and see them first-hand.

Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium

Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium is a popular tourist spot for many whilst visiting Dorset. The family-run attraction creates an immersive experience that allows for a great insight into the underwater world. 

There are both modern and historical features located at Lyme Regis, which makes it the perfect place to visit when wanting to learn about both past and present sea life.  This aquarium is situated at the end of Cobb, home to Lyme’s iconic harbour wall.

Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park

When looking for places to go in Dorset when it’s raining, Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park is a great option for the whole family, offering 13 different zones and home to over 1,000 creatures. Here you can see the 20ft-long famous submarine that underwent a dramatic rescue back in 1973, with two crew members on board fighting to survive and return to safety. 

With the opportunity to see an array of marine life, as well as some historical facts and information, this is a great way to spend a rainy day in Dorset. 

Bournemouth Oceanarium

Oceanarium offers a mix of theme parks, zoos, marine and water parks as well as plenty of indoor entertainment. This makes it the perfect place to spend the whole day if the weather isn’t on your side, with plenty to do to suit the whole family. 

Whether you are seeking a thrill from one of the exciting theme park rides or looking to explore the underwater world, you can find it all at Oceanarium, making it another great option if you’re wanting to stay dry on your visit to Dorset! 

Uncover Dorset’s History and Heritage 

Much like Dorset’s plethora of stately homes and manor houses, there is also an abundance of history and heritage to uncover on a day out in the area. Here are our top recommendations.

The Tank Museum

The Tank Museum is another popular place that tourists head to when the weather has taken a turn for the worse in Dorset. Here you will find tank exhibitions, special events and behind-the-scenes experiences, as well as arena action, free talks and tours to learn. There is so much going on, you can spend hours here! 

The Tank Museum is perfect for the whole family and offers something for all ages. It’s a great way to enjoy Dorset when the rain makes an appearance. 

Gold Hill Museum and Garden

The Gold Hill Museum is situated atop the picturesque Gold Hill in Shaftesbury town and is located across two historic buildings. With eight galleries displaying what rural town life looked like many years ago, there is plenty of exploring to be done here that will allow for a wider insight into Dorset’s history and heritage. 

The Keep Military Museum

If you are looking for an incredible insight into military history, then be sure to head to The Keep Military Museum. Here you can find outstanding artefacts located inside the Grade II historical building that will leave you with a wealth of knowledge on local military history. 

The Tutankhamun Exhibition

If Egyptian history is your thing, then a visit to the Tutankhamun Exhibition in Dorchester is a great way to spend a wet day in Dorset. 

At the exhibition, you will find an outstanding recreation of Tutankhamun’s tomb and treasures. The exhibition has been internationally acclaimed and featured many times on television.

Visit a Local Brewery 

Ranging from large scale breweries to smaller craft brewers, you can find all things beer when visiting Dorset. Plus, a day out at the brewery ensures that you remain dry when the rain is pouring outside!

Palmers Brewery Tour, Bridport, is a popular choice for those looking to find out more about Dorsets breweries and to perhaps taste a couple of different beers on offer.   Being the only thatched roofed brewery in the UK and having celebrated 225 years of continual operation, Palmers Brewery is a prominent part of Dorset’s history, as well as a great place to try local ales. 

When visiting Palmers Brewery, you can take part in one of their tours, which offers an exclusive opportunity to get close to the process of English brewing and allows for an insight into one of Britain’s oldest family-run breweries. Tours run daily at 11 am, as well as 2 pm in summer. There are also some great local pubs nearby, the perfect place to stop off for some wholesome pub grub!  

Explore RockReef, Bournemouth

This all-weather indoor activity attraction is perfect for those looking to get out of the rain and straight into fun! Located at the end of Bournemouth Pier, you have the option to explore the sea-front as well as this great indoor climbing centre. 

If the rain shows up, you can head straight inside for the 28 Clip ‘n Climb adventures. The themed indoor climbing walls are suitable for a range of ages and abilities, as they offer varying degrees of challenges. So whether you are 4 or 94, this is a great rainy day activity for all! 

Let the Kids Go Wild at an Indoor Soft Play Area 

It can be difficult to keep the kids occupied when the weather isn’t allowing for outdoor adventures, which is why indoor soft play areas are a great option for a family day inside! 

A popular spot in Dorset for indoor soft play is The Little Fire Station at Bridport. The play zone offers great activities for kids under 6 years. It is located at Martin’s Bar and Restaurant, so provides something for the whole family, as the kids can play and the adults can indulge in great food and drink.  

Relax at a Spa 

Just because the weather is looking gloomy, doesn’t mean you have to! A day at a spa can be a fantastic way to relax and unwind, all whilst staying warm and dry. 

Feel utter relaxation as the therapists get to work with massages, facial treatments, hot stones, and more. Alternatively, you could spend the day by the pool or in steam rooms or saunas, perhaps with a glass of champagne in hand. 

Some of the best spas in Dorset include The Body Retreat, Oceana Day Spa, Bluewater Spa, Chill Massage and more. 


There is much to do in Dorset when the weather isn’t as dry as you had hoped for, so the UK’s rainy days shouldn’t prevent you from visiting this stunning southwestern county. Whether you are looking to get active with the kids, enjoy some great food or soak up the serenity of a spa day, there is something for everyone. 
If you are looking to book the perfect getaway to Dorset, Independent Cottages offers a range of stunning holiday rental cottages that will help make your stay even more enjoyable. You can browse the range of properties here, or get in contact with the team for more information.

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