New York is the perfect tourist destination, no matter the weather forecast! When it’s pouring outside, finding indoor activities is a great way to get to know the city’s interior wonders. With that in mind, we’ve created a list of 15 things to do in NYC when it rains.
What to do in NYC When it Rains
Visit Food Halls
New York City is packed with food halls where you can spend an entire afternoon munching and tasting dishes from all over the world. A lot of these food halls have stalls showcasing cuisines from all over the world. You can try a little of everything, from Vietnamese bánh mì to Mexican tacos and Korean baos.
Some of the most popular food halls in Manhattan are Chelsea Market, Essex Market, and Eataly. Talk to shop owners and get to know their history. Buy gastronomic souvenirs for your friends back home. Try warm and delicious food while waiting for the rain to pass.
Explore the Museums
While in New York, you need to visit at least one or two museums. The city hosts some of the most popular and intriguing museums in the world. For example, going to the American Museum of Natural History is a must for those who enjoy learning about our planet and its different species.
For art lovers, the MoMA holds expositions from some of the most renowned modern artists in the world today. The Met is perfect for those who like art history, Here you can find paintings and sculptures from all over the world, from ancient Sumerian stone sculptures to Andean textiles and 19th-century Impressionist art.
There are dozens of other museums spread across the city, like The Museum of Ice Cream and the Tenement Museum. Spending the morning or afternoon in one of them is an excellent way to enjoy the city in the rain.
Insider’s Tip: Looking for more museums? Check out our complete guide to the best museums in NYC!
Do Some Outlet Shopping
Sometimes we feel guilty for going on an indoor shopping spree while the sun shines on the outside. But when it’s raining, there’s nothing better than hitting the mall or an outlet shop and finding dozens of your favorite stores in a single place.
Bloomingdales and Macy’s are two department stores where you can probably spend an entire day inside. Find everything you need, from fabulous winter jackets to kitchen supplies and even a cafeteria or restaurant for lunch. Go up and down the stairs and enjoy the different brands exposed in the halls of these two luxurious stores.
Century 21 is perfect for those who want to shop on a tighter budget. The shops inside the Oculus will also keep you entertained, protecting you from the rain.
Listen to Live Jazz
Jazz was born in New Orleans, but it also came to New York and decided to stay forever. You can find many jazz bars that play live music all night long. Sit at a small table, order a Negroni, and relax to the soothing sounds. Like the Blue Note or Birdland, some bars are larger and very popular, hosting extraordinarily talented and famous musicians.
However, there is something special about hitting the more minor, casual spots like Smalls and Tomi Jazz. You will probably have to wait in line for a while, but the experience and environment are worth it.
Indulge in a Multi-Course Meal
Eat in New York City and feel like a king (or queen!). With some of the best restaurants in the world, it is easy to find a meal to fall in love with. New York has many restaurants where you can order tasting menus and indulge in multiple course meals that will satisfy your body and soul.
You can try a Brazilian barbecue rodizio like Fogo de Chão, where you pay a set price and eat all the meat you want. If you’re feeling fancy, go to a Michelin Star restaurant for premium food prepared by some of the best chefs in the world. Try the four-course meal at Joomak Banjum in Koreatown, or maybe a 16-course sushi splurge at Sushi by M.
Spend Time at a Coffee Shop
There’s nothing better than sipping on hot coffee and munching on a pastry as you watch the rain pouring outside. New York coffee shops are perfect for that. With hundreds of those in the city, spending some time reading your book, chatting with friends, or even getting some work done is calming and ideal during rainy days.
Find a coffee shop with some good wi-fi and comfortable chairs and couches. Order a cappuccino and dip a croissant in it. Maybe order a slice of cake; you deserve it.
Insider’s tip: Bookmark our list of the best coffee shops in NYC for options all around the city.
Watch a Broadway Show
Broadway is the epitome of performance art in New York. There is no better way to spend a couple of hours when it’s raining. Become mesmerized by the costumes, lighting, singing, and dancing at classic shows like The Lion King and Little Mermaid. Laugh out loud at comedic moments, and feel the goosebumps during songs like “A Whole New World” in Alladin or “Defying Gravity” at Wicked.
Aside from the classics, there are new shows every year, so you will always find something intriguing to watch.
Insider’s tip: Grab a slice of pizza after the show!
Catch a Comedy Show
Another great way to spend the night while it rains is to attend a comedy show. Manhattan is packed with small, underground comedy spots where you can sit at a small table, order a beer or cocktail, and watch comedians tell their jokes. You may laugh until you cry or even fall off your chair – that’s normal.
In Greenwich Village, going down McDougal Street, you will find plenty of comedy cellars where you can catch a show. The most popular one is the Comedy Cellar itself, which you may have to buy tickets for ahead of time. Other popular options are The Greenwich Village Comedy Club and the Gotham Comedy Club.
Go Ice Skating Indoors
We all know Central Park and The Rockefeller Center as two of the most popular ice rinks in New York. During colder months, these places are packed with people testing their balance and artistic capacity – you might even catch a pirouette or two. However, when it rains in New York, there are also a lot of indoor ice rinks where the fun continues for hours on end.
The Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers is an excellent example of that. Here you can find amazing views of the Hudson River, eat mouth-watering pizza, and take a lesson to become an even better skater. Aviator Sports also has a large ice rink, ideal for families and groups of friends!
Hit The Bowling Alleys
If bowling anywhere is already fun, imagine what it must be like to do it in New York. Brooklyn Bowl is the perfect example of that. Here you can order cocktails and listen to live bands as you bowl. The place is super colorful and has plenty of alleys. What’s more, the food menu is so extensive that you could spend an entire rainy day inside.
Another option is Frames Bowling NYC, where you can even sing karaoke and play ping pong. Let the child inside of you run free for a couple of hours!
Visit the Public Library
The New York Public Library is one of the most famous landmarks in the city. Founded in the 19th century, it is the second-largest library in the USA and the fourth-largest in the entire world. During a rainy afternoon, this is the ideal spot to visit.
Study the architecture and design of the place and the paintings on some of the ceilings. Find different reading rooms and communal spaces. Curl up with a good book, or take a guided tour to learn more about its fascinating history.
Explore the City’s Book Shops
There’s nothing better than a rainy day for a bookworm. In New York, book lovers can always find a home inside the many book stores around the city. Vintage books, books about a specific theme like travel, business, fiction… there are stores specializing in every type of literature you could want. Rizzoli Books, for example, displays their books on mahogany shelves, offering beautiful coffee table decor books for you to explore and take home.
Maybe visit Three Lives & Co., one of the most popular book stores in the city. Sit down on a couch and flip through hundreds of different books. Purchase one or two books, discover new styles, and talk to the vendors about their favorites!
Grab a Cocktail at a Speakeasy
Speakeasy bars are famous in the city, and a great option if you are looking for what to do in NYC when it rains. Usually hidden and decorated after the prohibition era of the 1920s, these establishments are perfect for a drink while you wait for the rain to pass. With dim lighting, well-made cocktails, and low ceilings, these places can make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Places like Employees Only have received international awards, with mouth-watering cocktails served in particular and creative ways.
Other spots like Saint Tuesday are known for their decor and devotion to the speakeasy theme, making it almost impossible to get it. But once you’re inside – and a couple of levels below ground – you will feel like you’re part of something special.
Check out an Art Gallery
New York is the city of art – every year, hundreds of young and upcoming artists come to the city in the hopes of being discovered. They hang their work in the many art galleries around the city, and visiting these galleries will allow you to find new artists. There is always something new to see with temporary expositions that change every season.
Hauser & Wirth New York is one of the most popular galleries in the city, and here you will always find something intriguing to see. Other places like David Zwirner and Michael Werner are also popular for displaying visionary and modern art. This might be a unique and cultural experience worth exploring on those rainy days in New York.
Outsmart an Escape Room
Escape rooms have been very trendy lately! The thrill of testing your intelligence and seeing if you are smart enough to escape is a fun and stimulating activity, perfect for a rainy day. The city has many Escape Rooms with different storylines and scenarios, so finding one won’t be tricky – but escaping it might be!
Playground is packed with elementary-school-themed puzzles and riddles. Find prison-break, extraterrestrial, and submarine-themed rooms as well. If you love elaborate storylines and creative pursuits, this is the perfect plan for what to do in NYC when it rains. Can you outsmart the system before time runs out?
A Final Note on What to do in NYC When it Rains
New York is a lively city which doesn’t stop when it starts raining. There’s a lot to do under a gray sky, from listening to live music to shopping for gifts to eating international, multi-course meals. Take the rainy weather as an opportunity to discover art and history, explore indoor spaces, and see another side of New York.
Camila has lived in New York for over six years. Writing about food, drinks, and travel, she has moved around the city gathering tales, flavors, and restaurant recommendations for her fellow explorers. A lover of bars and baos, Camila can introduce you to the most famous and best-kept secrets of New York!