St Andrews is a beautiful town, whatever the weather. However, the beaches, ruins, and golf courses in St Andrews are not quite so appealing on a rainy day.
Here are our top ideas for places to delight, distract and divert you while you’re staying dry inside.
1. A medley of museums
When was the last time you visited one of the museums in St Andrews? There are five that open on a daily basis in St Andrews, and most of them have great family-friendly exhibits or trails. Try the British Golf Museum on Bruce Embankment, awarded five stars by VisitScotland. The entry fee is well worthwhile for the wealth of golf history and artifacts on display. Children will enjoy the multimedia panels, as well as the final interactive room in which visitors can try putting with clubs and golf balls from other eras.
Just down the road on The Scores is MUSA, the Museum of the University of St Andrews. Small but expertly curated, this new museum is free to visit and offers great insights into the development of the university and its close relationship with St Andrews. They have also created wonderful kids’ trails to make it a fun visit for all ages.
The Carved Stones Museum in the Cathedral grounds is an impressive array of ancient carvings with plaques explaining the importance and symbolism of various examples. Entry to this is included with tickets to scale St Rule’s Tower.
The St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum, on North Street, and the St Andrews Museum in Kinburn House, Doubledykes Road, are two mini-museums focusing on the history of St Andrews itself. The Preservation Trust Museum has wonderful life-sized reconstructions of shops that used to fill the town, and the St Andrews Museum has a fun A-Z of St Andrews, presenting the town’s history in an alphabetical, instead of chronological order.
2. Curl up in one of our cafés
With a student’s thirst for knowledge often comes a thirst for caffeine; as with many university towns, St Andrews has a fantastic selection of independent cafés and coffee shops. Why not buy a book, board game or pack of cards from JG Innes (South Street) and hide inside with a coffee and a slice of cake?
Try the old-fashioned Coffee House on Greyfriars Garden quaint charm and a great selection of beans. Or, if ‘handcrafted beverages’ are more your style, Beanscene on Bell Street is everything Starbucks wishes it could be, with warm décor and comfy leather sofas. If you were caught in the rain, it might be best to head to Zest on South Street for a healthy juice, smoothie, or herbal tea. Of course, if big, budget-friendly comfort – with a royal connection – is more your style, you can’t beat the North Point on North Street. As the sign outside the door declares – this is where Kate would meet Will for coffee, on occasion.
If you prefer to watch the rain while you sip, why not go upscale and visit one of the hotels along the edge of town. The Rusacks Hotel has huge picture windows in its lounge, overlooking the Old Course and the West Sands; perfect for golfer-watching. The Old Course Hotel, the Scores Hotel, and The Golf Hotel also offer some beautiful views if you pick the right spot; you easily could make an afternoon of café-hopping trying to find your favourite. Be warned though; you might be quite full if you sampled the afternoon tea at each…
3. Escape from it all at the theatre
Of course, if people-watching is your cup of tea only when those people are scripted, we have a few options in town. The Byre Theatre (off South Street) has ticketed performances most evenings, as well as free entertainment in the bar, and often puts on an extra matinee show on Saturdays; perfect for a dreich (Scots for dull, drizzly, grey) afternoon.
Alternatively, there’s the New Picture House Cinema on North Street, screening new releases alongside indie, foreign and classic films. If you can, try to get to a show in the main auditorium, which has retained all the glamour and opulence of a 1930’s theatre, with ticket prices that might make you think you’ve gone back to the ‘90s.
4. Enjoy some aqua-therapy
Fancy an excuse for some pampering, or have some energy to burn off? Try one of our two award-winning spas, or the perennial family favourite: the East Sands Leisure Centre. The Old Course Hotel and the Fairmont St Andrews both offer brilliant pampering packages, as well as day passes to the spa facilities. The local leisure centre has a selection of pools, slides, and flumes, as well as other options, such as squash courts.
5. Watch some water-lovers at the Aquarium
Of course, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. If it’s raining outside, what better destination than a place in which the inhabitants literally could not live without water. St Andrews Aquarium is fun to visit, with the normal array of tiny bright fish and ugly camouflaged ones. When you finish your visit there, you could always head to the neighbouring Seafood Restaurant. With floor to ceiling glass walls, jutting out into the sea, I can’t imagine a more striking place to weather out a storm.
So, that’s our top pick of things to do on a less-than-dry day in St Andrews. What would you add? What are your favourite rainy-day activities around St Andrews? Share them by adding a comment below!
Written and contributed by Visit St Andrews