New York is a magical city with plenty to see and do no matter the time of year. Despite its reputation for having little but dreary, overcast days and steady rains, New York has no more such weather than Vancouver or Denver.
If you are worried about rainy days in New York City spoiling your fun, don’t be! The city that never sleeps enjoys one of the mildest climates in America. And although it gets its fair share of rain, this shouldn’t be any cause for alarm.
Below I share a list of 17 fun things to do in NYC when it rains. Don’t forget that you can enjoy these events and attractions, rain or shine!
1. Head Over To Chelsea Piers
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Visiting Chelsea Piers is one of the top things to do in NYC.
This sports and entertainment complex comprises multifunctional recreation facilities spread over 30 acres.
The complex features a driving golf range, soccer fields, a boxing ring, a bowling alley, a racetrack, an ice and roller skating rink, basketball and volleyball courts, an archery range, film studios, and an indoor Olympic-size pool.
Chelsea Piers is located along the Hudson River in Manhattan, between 17th and 23rd Streets. It is an excellent place for sports enthusiasts to enjoy themselves.
2. Catch A Show At The Radio City Music Hall
Fancy seeing the Rockettes or any other shows performing? Or just tour the famous Art Deco masterpiece? Then visit Radio City Music Hall at 1260 6th Avenue, Manhattan.
The facility, located in Rockefeller Center, is a theater and entertainment venue unlike any other in the world.
In addition to Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, and Sammy Davis Jr., the concert hall has hosted pop icons Celine Dione, Madonna, and Stevie Wonder.
If there happens to be a concert on the day you’re here. I recommend you attend it to appreciate the music hall fully.
If not, Radio City Hall is usually open for tours where visitors can explore its history and beauty.
3. Enjoy A Hot Cup Of Coffee Or Tea At Café Sabarsky
This is probably one of the best ideas when wondering what to do in New York on a rainy, cold day.
Café Sabarsky is one of the best places to have a coffee in New York, which stands out from the rest.
It is located in the Neue Galerie and is truly something special. The cafe offers a wide range of teas, coffees, cocktails, alluring Viennese dishes, pastries, and other delicious treats.
There are many other fantastic coffee and tea rooms in NYC.
There’s Birch Coffee if you need good specialty coffee in New York, and Alice’s Tea Cup for the best afternoon tea. The Blue Box in the Tiffany & Co. South Coast Plaza is also great.
It’s a great place for high tea with beautiful views, although it’s currently closed for reinvention.
4. Go Ice Skating
If you’re in New York with your partner, you should try indoor skating.
It’s very romantic for couples to skate together on a beautiful rink while holding hands.
Some indoor skating rinks you can visit are the City Ice Pavilion and World Ice Arena in Queens or the rink at the Aviator Center in Brooklyn.
The Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers and the rink at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park are equally good choices.
5. Go To Broadway
If you’re a theater lover, there’s no better place than Broadway on a dreary day.
Yes, I know. Everyone knows Broadway, and there’s a good reason for that!
Broadway is one of the top NYC attractions, and it’s no wonder because there’s so much to see and do here.
This stretch of roadway is packed with enchanting lights and an atmosphere that’s unparalleled in the US.
The party atmosphere at the end of the day allows adults to play and grab a slice of Americana while being lured into one of the forty-one professional theaters.
Albeit well known, you cannot truly appreciate Broadway until you plant yourself right in the middle of it all.
Best of all, you don’t always have to pay full price.
At the TKTS booth in Time Square, you can get tickets to a Broadway show for 20% to 50% off. The shows offered vary each day, and tickets must be purchased the day of the show.
The booth usually opens between 11 am to 8 pm, depending on the day of the week.
6. Try The Local Cuisine
Why not try NYC’s delicious cuisine if you still can’t decide what to do in NYC when it rains?
Whether you are in Little Italy or Chinatown or at a fancy restaurant in SOHO, there is no shortage of delicious cuisine in New York City.
Fun places like Beecher’s, S’MAC, and Murray’s serve delicious macaroni and cheese – the perfect comfort food for inclement weather.
7. Hit A New York Deli
The city of New York is known for many things.
Delicatessens are one of them, and Katz’s is probably the most famous. It is a Jewish deli that offers possibly the best pastrami in the city.
In addition to the great food, the deli offers a pretty nice atmosphere. It is warm and friendly, and the smells always draw you in.
Despite being around for over a century, Katz’s delicatessen remains true to its heritage. This great New York deli hasn’t changed much, not the old-fashioned decor or the quality of the food, which has always been superb.
Keep in mind that it is always packed. So get there early if you want to snag a nice table and enjoy your meal sitting down.
Other good delis in New York are Barney Greengrass, Pastrami Queen, and the 2ND Ave deli.
8. Take An NYC Food Tour
New York City has a lot of great culinary adventures you can take on a rainy day, and it’s hard to beat the personalities you can sample on NYC Food Tours.
Some of the most exciting Food Tours include Brooklyn Food & Culture Bus, Foods of NY Tours, Famous Fat Dave, and Scotts Pizza tours.
9. See Show Business in Action
Attending live television taping is one of the more unique experiences on a rainy day in New York. Tickets to these events are usually free, but you’ll have to book in advance unless you are lucky.
Check out free tapings with The Daily Show (733 11th Avenue), Saturday Night Live (49th Street NBC Studios Marquee), and The Tonight Show (30 Rockefeller Plaza), etc.
Keep your eyes open when you visit these places. You might get a chance to be an extra in one of the many movies filmed in NYC.
10. Check Out The Neue Galerie
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Neue Galerie is one of the best places in New York to visit when the weather is dreary.
The gallery’s exterior is an outstanding piece of art with a stunning architectural design.
Despite the small size, the interior is equally impressive, with high-quality works of art and a thoughtful setting.
German and Austrian expressionism is featured in the gallery, including works by famous artists like Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee.
11. Visit The Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
The fact that New York City is known for never sleeping and partying a lot doesn’t mean there aren’t religious people here. If you want a religious experience, you should visit Saint Patrick Cathedral.
With its 125-year-old architecture, stained glass windows, and marble sculptures, this gothic-style Catholic cathedral is one of the most beautiful in the world.
The place is very peaceful and provides a sense of calm from the hustle and bustle (and jittering cold) outside its door.
After September 11, many New Yorkers took solace in visiting this tranquil cathedral.
12. Indulge In Literature At The New York Public Library
As well as inspiring published authors, this literary hotspot has intrigued and inspired everyday individuals who enjoy literature.
A visit to the New York Public Library allows you to experience New York City literature in a unique way.
The vast library has a wide range of books, including works by well-known authors and fine and rare volumes.
You will find collectibles from every genre and newly published books that you can borrow or buy.
And if you’re a writer, this is the perfect place to create a masterpiece. Surrounded by books, complete silence, computers, and free Wi-Fi, the communal tables offer a tranquil atmosphere that inspires creativity.
There are also some wonderful and interesting art exhibits at the New York Public Library.
13. Explore The Grand Central Station
Being an indoor facility, Grand Central Station should be on your list of things to do in NYC when it rains!
The interior of the concourse, with its high, beautifully painted ceiling, tall arched windows, and marble floors, is just as impressive as the outside.
Here, there’s a giant sculpture of Hercules (and others) surrounding a 13-foot clock and large Corinthian columns.
It’s incredible how this architectural masterpiece connects all forms of transportation. It is the world’s busiest train station, with approximately 750,000 visitors daily. On Fridays, at 12:30 pm, there is a free tour of the station.
14. Go To The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Located at 5th Avenue and 81st Street, The Met is the crown jewel of New York art museums. It’s the perfect place to visit on a gloomy day in New York City.
Note, however, that regular admission to The Met is donation-only, while special exhibitions cost a few dollars. Either way, the Met’s treasures are priceless.
It displays some of the most striking works of art ever created, including works by Athanasius Kircher, Jacques-Louis, and Durer.
The Metropolitan museum has a large rooftop garden and a 60,000-square-foot section dedicated to modern and contemporary art.
While you’re here, don’t forget to visit the relocated ancient Egyptian Temple of Dendur – it’s a real sight.
15. Visit New York’s Famous Museums
If you haven’t had enough of museums and exhibits, there are several other major museums in NYC.
These museums are among the world’s finest in architecture, art, natural history, photography, and technology.
- The American Museum of Natural History: this museum is one of the most innovative and largest natural history museums in the world.
Explore the rainforests of Africa at the Hall of Biodiversity or travel around the world at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. More than 600 specimens of dinosaurs and other vertebrate fossils are on display here.
- Guggenheim Museum: browse the masterpieces of famous artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, and Kandinsky.
Plus, there’s always an interesting exhibition here. Don’t miss walking up the spiral ramp to the dome.
- Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): One of the world’s leading museums, the MoMA offers visitors and art lovers an amazing bouquet of exhibitions.
Its highlights include paintings by Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock. Video and film screenings are also available. Remember to grab a hot meal at Sette MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art’s elegant Italian restaurant.
- The Intrepid Museum: this truly magical museum offers a unique journey with amazing interactive exhibits equipped with virtual and multi-sensory technology.
Featuring 30 restored aircraft, the British Airways Concorde, and the USS Growler submarine, the Intrepid Museum offers a dynamic adventure for visitors of all ages.
Other notable museums worth visiting include the Museum of The City of New York, the Tenement Museum, and the American Indian Museum.
16. Go (Window) Shopping
This is about the easiest thing to do when the weather in New York is unpleasant, and you don’t have to buy anything.
5th Avenue in Manhattan is an upscale shopper’s paradise. Filled with the most notable brands in the world, the area between 50th and 59th Streets dazzles and amazes even seasoned shoppers.
Get funkier in the East Village, especially on St Marks Place. Consider a walk down Bleeker Street to West 4th. Not bad areas to get lost.
There are also some chic boutique stores in SOHO, Williamsburg, and Greenwich you can sample.
17. Catch A Comedy Show At The Upright Citizen’s Brigade
If you’re in the mood for fun and adventure, head to this comic joint at 307 W. 26th Street.
Comics Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh came to New York, the capital of improv, in 1996 from Chicago.
They had great careers in entertainment, but not before forming the Upright Citizen’s Brigade theatre. The comedy theatre has nurtured the careers of many comedians, including Tina Fey, Robin Williams, Will Ferrell, and many more.
For a small admission fee (less than $10), you can see some of the city’s most promising performers here.
There are a few other things to do in NYC when it rains.
In addition to rock climbing, you can also treat yourself to a luxurious spa treatment, go clubbing to experience New York’s crazy nightlife, visit a cat café, or see the stunning Oculus at the World Trade Center PATH Station.
The list is endless, and it just goes to show that there’s plenty to do and see in NYC, even when it’s wet and cloudy.
No matter your mood, there is something you’re sure to enjoy!