10 of the best things to do on a rainy summer day in New England
From tennis trivia to pinball machines, these family-friendly activities will help you forget about missing the beach.
When rain spoils your New England beach day, don't waste your trip moping around the hotel. Flick off the television, strap on your rain boots, and take off on a day trip. Here are some indoor activities throughout the region that will keep you occupied while you wait for the storm to pass.
1. Mystic Seaport Museum
Be among the first in the world to see a new collection of Viking helmets, weapons, shields, and other artifacts — some dating to the seventh century — on display in the Collins Gallery. The exhibition of Swedish relics makes its international debut on May 19 in Mystic and runs through September 30. If horned helmets don't pique your interest, check out the museum's other exhibits, including a collection of ship carvings and figureheads.
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, 860-572-0711, mysticseaport.org
2. Yale University Art Gallery
The museum holds more than 4,000 pieces, from ancient art to contemporary works. Art buffs will appreciate the work of Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Edgar Degas. And that's just the permanent collection. Starting June 29, works from Leonardo da Vinci's early career will be on display. If the rain subsides, take a stroll through a sculpture garden or explore the rooftop terrace. Plus, it's free and open to the public.
Open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, 203-432-0601, artgallery.yale.edu
3. International Tennis Hall of Fame
Are you a tennis fan? If not, a day at the sport's Hall of Fame, in the Newport Casino — where the first national men's singles championship was played in 1881 — might convert you. Three galleries serve up history, starting with the sport's invention in medieval monasteries. Two other galleries are dedicated to Hall of Fame players. Interactive exhibits include a 5-foot touch screen where you can engage in a match of tennis trivia.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., until 6 p.m. July through Labor Day. 194 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, 401-849-3990, tennisfame.com
4. Roger Williams Park
Head to the Botanical Center to stroll through New England's largest public indoor display garden, where more than 150 plant species flourish in five greenhouses. Then explore the park's Museum of Natural History, which opened in 1896. Fossils, minerals, and rocks are just some of the artifacts here. Or tour the universe at a Planetarium show. Bring an umbrella and wander the 40-acre zoo, too.
Botanical Center open Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Museum of Natural History open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Zoo open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, 401-785-3510, rwpconservancy.org
5. Seacoast Science Center
Learn about ocean creatures by exploring the educational exhibits at this center. If you're brave enough, head over to the touch tanks, where you can hold a starfish or pet a chain catshark. Soak up the story of Tofu, a humpback whale who lived in the Gulf of Maine. The H20 Today exhibit, which opens June 10, details the challenges of global water conservation.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 570 Ocean Boulevard, Rye, 603-436-8043, seacoastsciencecenter.org
6. Hampton Beach Boardwalk
Make it a family game day at the boardwalk, where you can test your skills at an arcade. Funarama is in the strip across from the public restrooms, and Playland Arcade, which boasts a wide selection of pinball machines, is just down the road. Pick up a few "I [heart] New Hampshire" shirts at a gift shop along the way. For those with a sweet tooth, fill up a bag of goodies at a candy store, such as The Candy Corner.
Ocean Boulevard, Hampton, 603-926-8717, hamptonbeach.org
7. Maine Indoor Karting
After one lap around the track in a gas-powered go-kart, you'll forget about the gloomy weather outside. The 42,000-square-foot facility offers both adult and youth racing, on go-karts that can reach up to 40 miles per hour. The Kids Zone features safer cars that operate at 5 miles per hour. Afterward, enjoy a round of indoor mini golf or some time at the arcade.
Open Wednesday-Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 23 Washington Avenue, Scarborough, 888-246-5278, maineindoorkarting.com
8. Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine
Trick the kids into learning while they play at this museum, where they can become masters of physics by running balls down ramps they construct themselves, drive a play fire engine and slide down a fire pole, and nurse teddy bears back to health. There's even a replica lobster boat where kids can pretend to haul in traps from Portland Harbor.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 142 Free Street, Portland, 207-828-1234, kitetails.org
9. Woods Hole Science Aquarium
Rain or shine, the country's oldest marine aquarium can be part of your itinerary. Its tanks hold about 140 species of fish and invertebrates from New England waters, including everything from haddock to sea urchins to blue lobsters. You can also get an up-close look at the animals being fed and cared for by the staff.
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, 508-495-2001, aquarium.nefsc.noaa.gov
10. Whydah Pirate Museum
X marks the spot of the Whydah . . . or at least what's left of it. The vessel (pronounced "widd-ah") was a slave ship until, legend has it, Captain Samuel Bellamy seized it and turned it into his pirate ship. In 1717, a nor'easter sank it off Cape Cod. Head to West Yarmouth to see artifacts divers have retrieved from the wreckage, including pistols, navigational tools, and even pirate treasure.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 647 Route 28, West Yarmouth, 508-534-9571, discoverpirates.com