- 1 What to do on a Rainy Day in NYC
- 1.1 Visit one of New York City’s excellent museums
- 1.2 Shop at one of the city’s indoor malls
- 1.3 See a movie
- 1.4 Catch a Broadway show
- 1.5 Head inside Chelsea Market
- 1.6 Do a food crawl of New York City’s indoor markets
- 1.7 Play around in Chelsea Piers
- 1.8 Find a fitness class
- 1.9 Take an inside or underground tour
- 1.10 Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- 1.11 Visit the New York Aquarium
- 1.12 Visit one of the city’s observation decks
- 1.13 Binge-watch TV at the Paley Center for Media
- 1.14 Treat yourself to a spa day
- 1.15 Hang out at Barcade
- 1.16 Get lost in the New York Public Library
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In a place where it’s pretty much a requirement to walk everywhere, rainy days in New York City are no fun. It’s hard to enjoy the parks or a tour because you just want to be inside due to the weather. Instead of wandering in the sunshine, you’re carrying an umbrella to tide you through the storm. Not fun.
Even though it might seem like there are no indoor activities in New York City – you’re in New York City. Don’t worry; there are so many different things to do in NYC on a rainy day, you’ll be grateful for the downpour!
What to do on a Rainy Day in NYC
Visit one of New York City’s excellent museums
One of my favorite indoor activities in New York City is spending time in a museum. Since museums burst with knowledge, there’s little chance that you’ll be bored spending your day inside. They’re a great way to stay warm while learning about historical events and cultures or a topic that you didn’t know before.
Here are a few of my favorites where you can discover more on art, culture, food, and other topics from around the world:
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- American Museum of Natural History
- Guggenheim Museum
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- Museum of Ice Cream
- Museum of Interesting Things
- Brooklyn Museum
- Museum of Illusions
- Museum of the Moving Image
- South Street Seaport Museum
Pro Tip: Many prominent New York City museums provide free entrance hours weekly or monthly year-round, allowing guests to experience a variety of spectacular exhibitions for no cost. If you decide to visit a couple of New York City’s museums, make sure to check their calendar and try to take advantage of the listed free admission hours.
Or, if you can’t plan your schedule around free hours, decide whether one of the New York City sightseeing passes would be right for your trip. When you purchase a pass, you maximize savings by bundling admission for several major landmarks.
If you’re with kids, many museums around the city offer interactive exhibits that will keep them occupied for hours! For younger kids, visit sites like the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and the Children’s Museum of the Arts for age-appropriate fun. Or, check out the Spyscape Museum for older children, where you can learn about the history of spies in the United States and play through a fun simulation.
Shop at one of the city’s indoor malls
Although some could argue that the whole of New York City is like one giant shopping mall, there are several established indoor malls around the city! These make great inside activities in NYC, especially on freezing winter days.
The Oculus is located on the World Trade Center grounds, directly across from the 9/11 Memorial. It has a Westfield shopping mall inside and includes multiple magnificent references to the tragic events of that day–parts of the retaining wall that survived the attack can be seen.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for things to do in New York City in December, the Oculus’ atrium has a fantastic holiday market!
After you’ve finished shopping at the Oculus, take a walk beneath the Memorial and through the tunnels to Brookfield Place, located on the Hudson River. It’s an upscale shopping center with high-end stores, a gourmet food market, and sit-down restaurants.
See a movie
There are movie-going experiences of all kinds in New York City. Aside from your traditional, run-of-the-mill trip to AMC or Regal to catch a blockbuster movie, cinephiles have tons of small, niche theatres around to satisfy your movie craving. The last single-screen movie house in the city (recently saved from closure by Netflix), Paris Theater, shows Netflix films on the big screen.
You can also head over to Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg and Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where you can enjoy a full-service dining experience while enjoying the latest blockbuster. This is a fun fall activity in NYC, too!
Catch a Broadway show
Another one of the rainy day activities in New York City? Dinner and a Broadway show–this happens to be my absolute favorite thing to do, rain or shine!
Pro Tip: If you want to eat before the performance, make your reservations at least an hour and a half ahead of showtime. Also, let your server know what time your show starts when you first sit down. They’ll usually do their best to accommodate!
You can use Playbill’s weekly list of Broadway performance times to choose something that fits your NYC on a rainy day schedule. Or, go to the production’s website to see the showtime calendar ahead of time.
Otherwise, stop by the TKTS Booth if you’re undecided on which Broadway show you want to see! They can be found beneath the red stairs in Times Square. There are a variety of Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets available for 30-50 percent less than what you’d spend at the box office.
You can also read my comprehensive guide to buying Broadway tickets and tips for attending a Broadway show.
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Head inside Chelsea Market
Two great places to spend some time inside on a rainy day in New York City are the Starbucks Reserve Roastery (one of only six in the world) and Chelsea Market. Found just across the street from each other, you can easily spend a few hours exploring each.
Chelsea Market, housed in the original Nabisco cookie factory, is home to various local New York City eateries, food stalls, and artisan shops. If you plan to spend some time exploring the possibilities on the ground floor, make sure you arrive hungry!
Do a food crawl of New York City’s indoor markets
Aside from Chelsea Market, there are several other indoor food markets that you can explore in NYC on a rainy day!
Some of my favorites to enjoy are:
- Rockefeller Plaza
- Turnstyle Underground Market
- Mercado Little Spain
- Canal Street Market
- DeKalb Market Hall
- Time Out Market New York
Play around in Chelsea Piers
Part of the adventure is just walking around the different neighborhoods, so finding rainy day activities in New York City where you’ll have the chance to be active is especially tough. Chelsea Piers is a massive athletic facility for more than 25 recreational sports at Pier 62 on Manhattan.
Visit their facilities to take advantage of drop-in activities like rock climbing, open gym, open skating, the driving range, and other sports. You can find all the updated information and hours on their website.
Find a fitness class
While this won’t take up your whole day, jumping into a fitness class is a great way to get inside for an hour or two. If you’re looking for an authentic local New Yorker experience, this is it!
Many gyms and studios offer special rates for first-timers. They include essentials like yoga mats, spinning shoes, or other types of equipment. Many New Yorkers come to class from work or other events, which means they’re not carrying their gear around. If you’re not sure what’s included or if a class is right for you, call and ask their front desk for more information before signing up.
Pro Tip: If you already subscribe to ClassPass, you can use your credits at any participating gyms in NYC. Just open your app to explore all the options!
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Take an inside or underground tour
For as many incredible outdoor walking tours we have in New York City, some fascinating ones don’t require you to be outside! See the behind-the-scenes at some of the city’s largest performances halls, go underground to explore the subway’s history, even learn about the inner workings of the United State’s banking.
Some of my favorite inside tours are:
- Madison Square Garden All-Access Tour
- Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour Ticket
- Federal Reserve Bank Museum & Gold Vault Tour
- Catacombs By Candlelight Tour
- NYC’s Underground Subway Tour
Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, near Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World is a sculpture by French artist Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. It was conceptualized and cast in Paris and presented to the United States as a gift from France.
From 1829 through 1954, the main entry point for immigrants into the United States was Ellis Island. The historic structure is now a museum where visitors can learn about the history of immigration to America.
Although the Statue of Liberty is best seen from the outside, this is still a great excursion to take on a rainy day in New York City since both islands have museums. Spend hours roaming around the different exhibits; even search through boat manifestos to find your ancestor’s entry into the United States (if they arrived at Ellis Island.)
Take the CityExperiences Statue City Cruises ferry (formerly Statue Cruises) to Liberty and Ellis Island from Castle Clinton in Battery Park.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to be outside at all, or don’t want to visit the museums, take the free Staten Island Ferry from Battery Park in Manhattan and St. George, Staten Island. The voyage takes approximately 40 minutes each way, and it provides a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty without having to go outside. It’s one of my favorite free things to do in New York City!
Visit the New York Aquarium
Although heading down to Coney Island is one of my favorite summer activities in New York City, you don’t have to spend all your time outside there.
As a great reprieve from the hot sun or the cold snow, visit the New York Aquarium. You need to step outside to walk from building to building, but there are at least five major inside exhibits. From endangered coral reefs to sharks, you’ll find a full oceanic experience.
Visit one of the city’s observation decks
Although you can see some beautiful aerial landscapes from a fall foliage helicopter tour from New York City, you can visit other incredible views without leaving Manhattan island. Climb to the top of one of New York City’s many observation decks with an inside area.
This is an indoor activity in New York City for a cold winter day with clear or overcast visibility. While you can visit on a rainy day, you’ll have the best views when there are fewer clouds in the sky.
Take a look at my city guide if you need help picking which observatory in NYC is the best!
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Binge-watch TV at the Paley Center for Media
Have you ever wanted to watch a specific episode from a long-forgotten TV show or movie set in NYC you used to love as a kid? For one of my favorite indoor activities in New York City, The Paley Center for Media is a museum where you may get lost in reruns of your favorite TV series, radio broadcasts, and even tapes from former Olympic Games.
Located just outside Rockefeller Center, the museum formerly known as the Museum of Broadcasting was founded in 1975. In 2007, it was renamed the Paley Center for Media to include all forms of media entertainment, such as television, radio, cinema, streaming, podcasting, and more.
During your visit, you’ll be exploring The Archives, a database with over 160,000 different broadcasts. After you’ve chosen a program to watch–like the episode of the Ed Sullivan Show where The Beatles first performed–you can watch it alone or in a small group of up to four people. Admission is free for up to 1.5 hours; however, a suggested donation is requested.
Pro Tip: You can also visit the Paley Center for Media for one of their many scheduled screening events on one of their theater-sized screens. Their screenings are also free, but admission is first-come-first-serve, so make sure to arrive early.
Treat yourself to a spa day
Is there anything better on a rainy day than treating yourself to the spa? Or coming inside from the cold for a great, indoor winter date in New York City. There are so many great spas throughout the city where you can be treated for a couple of hours.
Exhale Spa has several sites throughout Manhattan and fantastic staff. Along with massage and skin treatments, they also offer yoga, barre, and cardio programs.
You can also spend an entire day at Spa Castle in Queens. Their couples rejuvenation package includes full access to the spa’s baths, saunas, and hydrotherapy pools for the entire day, as well as a half-hour in a private hot tub, a sugar scrub, and two massages.
Hang out at Barcade
If you’re of drinking-age, Barcade is your new favorite bar. Focusing on American craft beers and fun, “The Original Arcade Bar” opened in 2004 in Brooklyn.
The space itself is designed like an arcade, so there are plenty of fun activities and classic games to play. It has over 40 games available at each location, ranging from the mid-1970s through the early-2000s.
With locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Jersey City, and eight places around the United States (including one in New Haven, Connecticut,) you can’t go far without finding a Barcade for indoor entertainment. You can enjoy a few hours inside at this venue, tasting different beers and challenging your friend to beat your top score.
Get lost in the New York Public Library
The main branch of the New York Public Library is located on the corner of 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, next to Bryant Park. Known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, it’s a unique spot to visit if you’re looking for indoor NYC activities. Aside from wandering around inside, admiring the building’s design, or sifting through thousands of books to find a new favorite, the research library offers free one-hour guided tours Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Which of these NYC indoor activities are you most excited to explore on the next rainy day?