Whether you’re prepared for it or not, rainy days in NYC throw a curveball into your travel plans. The weather is unpredictable and sometimes you need to come up with a backup plan.
There is so much to see and a little rain shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether or not you make the most out of your time in the Big Apple. Not to mention there are so many things to do on a rainy day in New York City that are unique.
That’s why I’m here to help. I’m a 10 year local and have been able to put together a list of the best things during a rainy day in NYC. I’m not going to recommend going to watch a movie or bowling, you can do that just about anywhere. I’m looking to recommend top-notch experiences that are specific to the City that Never Sleeps.
So without further ado, let’s get you somewhere dry and get to the best things to do on a rainy day in NYC.
Tips for spending rainy days in NYC
Comfortable walking shoes are a must
You will be doing a lot of walking in New York City, and during a rainy day you’re going to want shoes that will keep your feet dry and comfortable. The subway is efficient but it doesn’t drop you off at the door. Bring your most comfortable pair of shoes because you’ll be getting those steps in, I guarantee it.
New York City averages more than 63 million visitors per year, meaning crowds are all but guaranteed. That’s a lot of people trying to eat at the same popular restaurants and do the same popular thing. Show up early and bring an umbrella in case there’s a line out the door.
Treat the sidewalk like a highway
Nothing bothers a New Yorker more than a person that stops smack-dab in the middle of the sidewalk. It’s inconsiderate and you’re guaranteed to garner eye rolls. There’s two ways you could inadvertently hog the sidewalk: walking side-by-side in a large group and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, effectively preventing access. Make sure you step to the side of the sidewalk if you need to stop.
New York City Rainy Day Activities
#30. Eat your way through Essex Market
One of the best things to do on a rainy day in NYC is to support local business’s and partake in apiece of New York history.
Located in Downtown Manhattan, Essex Market is New York City’s most historic food hall. The market has been around officially since 1940 (unofficially since the 1880’s) and has served as a culinary gathering place for New Yorkers to come together as a community.
This three-story market is made up of over 30 individual vendors who each bring a unique story and new flavor to the table. If you’re looking for a fun rainy day activity in NYC, I can’t recommend Essex Market enough.
Along with the plethora of food options, Essex Market also offers a place to pick up fresh groceries, check out an art gallery, heck even a spot to get your hair cut.
It’s hard to go wrong when picking a spot to eat at the Essex Market. I always crave the potato pierogi from Veselka on a rainy day in NYC. If you’re craving caffeine my go-to spot is Cafe Grumpy (the coffee is delicious) and then swing by Best Damn Cookies for something sweet.
There is plenty of seating on all levels of the market, but on a rainy day in New York City I especially recommend sitting upstairs. There are floor to ceiling windows that make for a great spot to enjoy your food and watch the rainy city.
#29. Get lost in Industry City
Industry City is one of my favorite places to visit on a rainy day in New York City. Think of a one-stop shop for all things NYC, then multiply it by ten and you have Industry City.
Comprised of 16 buildings across 35 acres, Industry City sits on the Brooklyn waterfront located in Sunset Park. The large industrial space was established back in the 1890’s and the space was used for manufacturing and distributing products. Today it is one of the most popular things to do on a rainy day in New York City.
Chock-full of events, eateries and shops, Industry City has it all. You can spend hours getting lost, roaming from place to place and still barely scratch the surface. In between the buildings you’ll find colorful courtyards decorated with seasonal decor and art installations creating the most charming backdrops for a photo.
As a local, this is a non-negotiable for my out of town visitors when I hear they don’t know what to do on a rainy day in NYC.
#28. Explore the Turnstyle Underground Market
Stretching over an entire city block, this underground market is located in a subway station (yes really!). Head over to 59th St-Columbus Circle Station and explore over 39 food vendors, shops and treats.
You can find the Turnstyle Underground Market beneath 8th Ave. between 57th & 58th Street. With seven different street-level entrances to the market, finding your way in should be no problem. And don’t worry, it’s completely free to explore the market, you do not need to swipe your subway card to get in.
Opened daily from 11AM-7PM, Turnstyle Underground Market shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon and plans to bring more shops to the market over time.
This is one of the best things to do on a rainy day in NYC because you’re guaranteed to stay dry, all while getting to explore multiple vendors within the same block.
#27. Visit a speakeasy
Speakeasies provide a glimpse of the U.S. during prohibition, and New York City has the cream of the crop. On a rainy day in NYC I like to visit one and have a few drinks secluded from the inclement weather.
My personal favorite Speakeasy is Apotheke, which was named one of the best speakeasies in the U.S. by Architectural Digest.
The appeal at this Manhattan bar is the overall vibe, mixologists in lab coats create inspired cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere that doesn’t lack imagination or romance.
The menu is broken down into six distinct sections: Health & Beauty, Aphrodisiacs, Pain Killers, Euphorics, Stimulants and Stress Relievers. Cocktails are referred to as prescriptions, feeding into the whole old-school European apothecary experience.
#26. Laugh at the Comedy Cellar
Swinging by the Comedy Cellar, one of the best comedy clubs in New York City, is a great thing to do in NYC on a rainy day.
The Comedy Cellar first opened in 1980 and hosts long lines every day of the week. They don’t have headliners, unlike most comedy clubs, rather they have 5 to 7 comics perform 15-20 minute skits per night.
As such, you never know who to expect on stage, but you’re guaranteed to have a good time because the Comedy Cellar always attracts top-notch talent. Past comedians who’ve performed there include Robin Williams, John Stewart and Kevin Hart. Needless to say, this is one of the best thing to do in NYC on a rainy day.
#25. Aire Ancient Baths
One of the best hidden gems in New York City is Aire Ancient Baths. Channeling ancient Greek and Roman bath houses it’s a serene and rejuvenating experience and one of the best things to do on a rainy day in NYC.
There are no cell phones allowed and Aire limits the amount of people in the bath house so the experience is a nice reprieve from the bustling city.
There are a handful of options to choose from so you can spend as much or as little as you’d like. Aire Ancient Baths also has massages so you can make a full spa day out of it and avoid a rainy day in NYC.
#24. Have drinks at an (indoor) rooftop
Okay before you come after me with pitchforks for sending you to a rooftop during a rainy day in New York City allow me to explain. My suggestion is to visit an indoor rooftop restaurant for panoramic views of the city.
If time (or budget) is not an issue for you, I recommend making an effort to dine at Mo Lounge. Mo Lounge is a restaurant within The Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Central Park. The stunning views of Central Park are hard to beat, especially during a New York City rainy day.
For something more casual Westlight in Brooklyn has epic views (and fries) of the city. Taking in New York City at any high vantage point is one of the best things to do in NYC on a rainy day.
#23. Shop the Strand Bookstore
Beloved by locals and visitors alike, the Strand Bookstore is one of the most iconic bookstores in New York City and one of the best places to spend rainy days in NYC.
Founded in 1927, the Strand is the only remaining bookstore from “Book Row” which was a coalition of 48 bookstores that lined Fourth Avenue. Every single bookstore, with the exception of the Strand, closed during the Great Depression.
Today this large NYC bookstore is home to 2.5 million books and serves as a safe-haven for insatiable bookworms far and wide.
Visitors are welcome to donate books and peruse the bookstore in search of something new. Definitely spend time exploring the used books, you might score a deal!
The Strand has several locations but I suggest visiting the flagship store in the East Village (828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003).
Looking for more independent bookstores to spend a New York City rainy day in? Check out 12+ Charming New York City Bookstores You Can’t Help But Love.
#22. Watch a performance at the Lincoln Center
Founded in 1950, the Lincoln Center is home to the Metropolitan Opera House, New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, the School of American Ballet, Julliard School of Music, the Chamber Music Society and the Film Society.
In other words, the Lincoln Center is the cultural capital not only of the Upper West Side, but of NYC as a whole. The venue sits on 16-acres and consists of five concert/theater buildings, a library, band shell and two outdoor plazas. There is always something to do here during a rainy day in NYC!
This is the place to go to see world-class opera, theater, ballet and jazz and thankfully there’s never a shortage of exciting events to attend. So if you’re looking to impressive someone with an unforgettable date night in New York City, this would be the place to do it.
My suggestion? If you’re visiting NYC during a rainy day and looking to stay dry there are few better things than the breathtaking Nutcracker ballet performance at the Lincoln Center.
#21. Ice Skate
Okay, you might be thinking “how am i supposed to ice skate on a rainy day in NYC?”. I have two answers for you.
At the Lefrak Center in Prospect Park there is a covered rink so you can stay dry while ice skating outdoors. No need to wear a wet-suit here folks! My biggest suggestion is to purchase tickets for the covered rink ahead of time online to guarantee your spot since there is also an uncovered rink.
And the other option is to just get wet. Bring a raincoat and head over to Bryant Park for ice skating on a rainy day in New York City since the rink is open rain or shine!
#20. Sign up for a salsa lesson
I first signed up for a dance class after walking in Central Park and seeing a group of folks having the time of their lives dancing. The energy is contagious, even as a spectator I couldn’t help but smile.
But during a rainy day in NYC in NYC there isn’t any dancing going on in Central Park. But no need to worry there are so many dance studios around the city that teach indoors!
Being the melting pot it is, in New York City you can find a class for nearly any type of dance you’re looking to learn. For those unsure, I recommend a salsa lesson, also known as mambo.
At Joel Salsa in Manhattan classes are affordable and fun. No need to bring a partner, since the instructor rotates partners so everyone has a chance to dance with someone. However if you want to bring that special someone and try to wow them on the dance floor that’s okay too.
#19. Blue Note Jazz Club
Home to some of the most significant jazz clubs in the world, the music scene in New York City is hard to beat. There’s a plethora of clubs to spend a rainy day in NYC enjoying the sweet melodies of talented musicians.
If you’d like to make the occasion special, I suggest making reservations at Blue Note Jazz Club for an experience you won’t soon forget.
Blue Note Jazz Club is a cultural institution and considered one of the best jazz clubs in the world. Since opening in 1981 it’s had some legendary acts grace it’s stage. Honestly, you can’t go spending a rainy day at Blue Note Jazz Club.
#18. Go wine tasting
Wine tasting during a rainy day in NYC overlooking the Hudson River? Where do I sign up?
City Winery has over 1000 different wines to try, so you can spend as little or as much time as you’d like here. There is often music, slam poetry or another form of live entertainment going on so it’s easy to lose track of time.
And with a stunning (and huge) locale overlooking the Hudson River you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a rainy day in NYC. If you want to keep the party rocking at home be sure to purchase a bottle to go.
#17. Treat yourself to a massage at Chelsea Wellness
There are few more relaxing ways to spend a rainy day in New York City than at the Chelsea Wellness Spa. You walk in from a gray, rainy NYC street and into an inviting and serene spa.
The massages are affordable, and a discount is offered if you pay cash. The spa is clean and friendly so no need to worry about going into a strangers basement.
After the massage you walk out feeling like a baby. Refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.
#16. Savor at Eataly
I’d be a horrible friend if I didn’t make sure to tell you to stop at Eataly during a rainy day in NYC. Eataly is an Italian market that houses multiple different restaurants where you can pull out a bar stool and enjoy a hot meal right inside the store.
There’s a pizza joint, a seafood restaurant, a pasta restaurant among others. It’s especially a great spot for large groups with picky eaters who can never agree on where to eat. This way every one gets to choose their own meal.
Not only does Eataly sell food on the spot, there is also high quality ingredients and produce that you can take home and make your own meal with. And if you need a utensil or pot to cook those ingredients in? Eataly has that too.
Eataly makes sure you spend a delightful rainy day in NYC whether you dine with them or at home.
Local’s Tip – there is a covered rooftop restaurant called Serra by Birreria at Eataly that decorates according to the season. Try to book reservations and check it out!
#15. Explore Chelsea Market
The Chelsea Market is a famous food hall mixed with unique shops, restaurants, spice markets, and cafes. The market has 35 vendors waiting to impress you with tasty treats and fare.
Checking out Chelsea Market is one of the best indoor things to do in NYC during a rainy day. Especially since they decorate for the holidays and make the whole place cozy. Think of Chelsea Market as the house on the block that goes all out for Halloween or Christmas. No corners are cut when it comes to decorating, lucky us!
Whether you plan on shopping or just strolling through the epic decorations, swinging by Chelsea Market is a can’t-miss rainy day activity.
Highlights at the Chelsea Market include: Matcha from Chalait (so good), warm donuts from the Doughnuttery (what’s better than a warm donut?), tacos from Los Tacos No. 1, spices from Spices and Tease and souvenirs from Pearl River Mart.
#14. Reserve a pool table at Sharks Pool Club
Even if you’re not very good, renting a pool table at Shark’s Pool Club is one of the best things to do during a New York City rainy day. No need to worry about embarrassing yourself since the pool rooms are private rentals open only to you and your party.
Simply book at Sharks Pool Club’s website and show up at your allotted time. The room is yours and comes with a Bluetooth speaker, a couch and a TV. It’s the living room New Yorkers always wanted but couldn’t have in our little shoe-box apartments.
Best part? It’s BYOB. I put one of my friends in charge of drinks, another on pizza duty and I book the room. It’s one of the best things to do in NYC on a rainy day.
#13. Hang out at your local cafe
Admit it – you’ve sat at the window at a cafe and imagined being in a music video. Want to step up the scene? Make it a rainy day in NYC. (No? Just me? Okay.)
A lot of cafes in New York City encourage folks hang out in their shops. So long as you’re sipping their coffee some will let you stay all day. One of my favorite things to do on a rainy day in NYC is to take a window seat at my favorite coffee shop and just watch locals going about their day.
Working? No big deal. There are outlets provided so you can bring a laptop with and set up shop remotely. Working from a cafe adds a whole new layer of fun to an otherwise mundane work day.
#12. Sign up for a cooking class
Remember during the pandemic shutdowns when everyone was cooped up and taking up new hobbies? A rainy day in NYC is a perfect excuse to keep expanding on those newfound skills.
Sur Le Table hosts a variety of classes, from baking classic croissants to homemade ravioli. It’s hard not to walk a little taller after taking a class, proud of what the delicious food you’ve just made.
Better yet, if you’re looking to impress that special someone sign up for a date night class. It’s a great rainy day activity, and you wont even have to take them to dinner afterwards. 😉
#11. Play a round at the Escape Game
If you’re looking to stay indoors, one of the best rainy day activities in NYC is to play a round at the Escape Game.
There are 5 different rooms to choose from, each riddled with clues you have to piece together while trying to beat the 60 minute countdown.
My personal favorite was the Gold Rush room, which my friends and I beat with less than 5 minutes to spare (talk about cutting it close!). It was so much fun that when asked if we wanted to play a second round, we cancelled our lunch reservations and said absolutely.
The Escape Game is fun the whole family can partake in, and one of the best things to do in NYC on a rainy day. Difficulty levels vary, but the Escape Game recommends kids are 13+ to make sure things aren’t too difficult.
Address: 295 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10017
#10. Bring your tokens to Barcade
Ever played arcade games, buzzed? It’s one of my favorite rainy day activities for adults in New York City. Barcade is a laid-back, relaxed spot to enjoy after work brews and blow off some steam on arcade games.
Tokens are 25 cents and can be used on over 70 arcade & pinball games. There’s plenty of classics, most of the machines are from the 1980’s.
And if you get hungry while chasing that high-score no need to head out. There’s classic bar food like burgers & tater tots. In sum, spending the day at Barcade is one of the best things to do on a rainy day in NYC.
#9. Try a Michelin-starred restaurant
Did you know New York City has the 5th highest concentration of Michelin-starred Restaurants in the world? It’s a big deal! What better thing to do on a rainy day in New York City than treat yourself to a Michelin-starred meal?
If you have something big to celebrate (the prices are steep and the wait-lists are oftentimes long) then I highly recommend this romantic activity in New York City.
#8. Cheer on the New York Knicks
The NBA season runs from October to April, basically through the New York City rainy season. This means going to watch a game is one of the rainy day activities in NYC.
New York City is home to the New York Knicks & the Brooklyn nets of the NBA.
Madison Square Garden is the home of the Knicks and the Barclays Center is home of the Nets, and both are easily accessible via subway.
Depending on how competitive the team is the tickets may or may not be expensive. On any given rainy day in NYC tickets can be had for as little as $20, so it doesnt necessarily take an arm and a leg to enjoy a game.
#7. Enjoy a hot bowl of Mr. Taka Ramen
My wife and I love rainy New York City days and our favorite way to enjoy them is with a hot plate of ramen. In fact, we’ll venture out in the rain single-handedly for a bowl from our favorite ramen restaurant, Mr. Taka in the Lower East Side.
I prefer it spicy, since it’s a great way to warm up. Watching the steam rise over the ramen while you look out the window, hard to beat!
There are plenty of other ramen restaurants that warrant a shout-out. Besides Mr. Taka we also enjoy Ippudo Ramen and ROKC, it’s hard to go wrong since there are so many delicious options!
#6. Visit a (free) art gallery
What is it about a rainy day in NYC that suddenly transforms us all into the main character in our own movies? I rarely visit an art gallery unless it’s raining and moody, and when I do I feel like I’m in a late 90’s drama where I’m a millionaire (far from it in real life).
In all seriousness, visiting an art gallery is something everybody should do at least once. What better time than during a rainy New York City day. There are unique and creative ideas from both established and budding artists alike.
Art galleries can contain paintings, sculptures and everything in between. A lot of the art is for sale, so decorating your apartment with unique, one of a kind pieces just got a whole lot easier.
If you’re going to spend a rainy day in NYC exploring galleries I suggest focusing on the neighborhoods of SoHo and Chelsea. There are plenty of free galleries in both to spend the day perusing.
#5. Warm up with a whiskey flight
One of my favorite NYC rainy day traditions is to sign up for whiskey tasting. New York City is home to some of the best bars in the world, and it would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage of it.
Many bars offer private whiskey tastings for large groups. Gather a group of friends and learn about the whiskey making process. You’ll walk away with a deeper appreciation for good drinks (and a warm, fuzzy feeling).
If you’re in NYC during a rainy day alone or with a small group, I suggest popping into a bar for a whiskey flight. They’re less expensive and require less planning than a whiskey tasting and can be just as fun.
#4. Search for the best hot chocolate in NYC
With temperatures slowly dropping, locals need to find ways to stay warm during rainy days in New York City. And let’s be honest, coffee doesn’t always cut it.
Hot chocolate is the perfect NYC rainy day drink regardless of your age or the time of day (and it doubles as a hand warmer!). The trick is finding who has the best hot chocolate in New York City.
If you need a head start on your hunt, I suggest checking out Jacques Torres Chocolate or L. A. Burdick. Both are rich in flavor and pack a chocolatey punch. It’s like they melted down a Hersey’s bar and poured it in a cup.
#3. Nuzzle up with a book at the NYPL
When it opened to the public in 1911, the New York Public Library was officially the largest marble building ever built in the country. No small task, considering it took 16 years to construct this epic structure.
In the present it’s where I go to avoid a NYC rainy day. One of my favorite things to do is to visit the iconic library, find a seat in the beautiful and Rose main reading room and get lost in a good book.
The library is huge, spanning two full city blocks so it shouldn’t be hard to find a place to make yourself comfortable. It’s also a beautiful building to just explore, no book required, and get out of the rain.
Fun fact: The two lions in front of the library are named Patience and Fortitude, here’s why.
#2. Visit a museum
If you’re you’re looking for NYC rainy day activities I’m going to make your job easier. Visit a museum. Boom. Done. Never underestimate how much time you can spend in a museum, a cultural experience should not be rushed.
Although it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the cornucopia of museums in the Big Apple (there’s more than 80), they all make for a great way to spend a NYC rainy day.
When the weather goes south my go-to is the MET, since it has large windows facing Central Park. Watching the rain fall over the park is serene and comforting. Not to mention, the MET is fifth largest museum in the world so no matter how many times I visit there’s always something new to learn.
If you’re trying to decide which museum to visit we have a post on 15 Exciting Museums in New York City (& What to See at Each). Just remember, show up early since this is a popular rainy day activity in New York City and the last thing you’d want is to have to wait in a line outside.
#1. Catch a Broadway show
There is no better way to spend a rainy day in NYC than by spending a few (dry) hours enjoying a Broadway show. The amount of effort that goes into a single show is impressive to say the least and I have yet to leave a show feeling like it wasn’t worth it.
There are 41 official Broadway theaters in NYC and at any given time more than half of them are putting on shows. This means there’s plenty of plays and showtimes to choose from.
Admittedly, Broadway Shows can be so dang expensive, but the experience is truly unforgettable. During the rainy season I try to enter as many Broadway lotteries as possible to save some cash.
Another way to save a few bucks is to purchase a solo ticket. These are seats left in between groups that the theater sells at a discounted rate to fill as many seats as possible. It’s one of the best ways to spend a rainy day in New York City alone and score a deal on a Broadway show.
Things to do during a NYC Rainy Day
- Catch a Broadway show
- Visit a museum
- Visit the NYPL
- Find the best hot chocolate in NYC
- Warm up with a flight of whiskey
- Visit an art gallery
- Enjoy a bowl of Mr. Taka’s Ramen
- Enjoy an NBA game
- Try a Michelin-starred restaurant
- Spend the afternoon at Barcade
- Play a round at the Escape Game
- Sign up for a cooking class
- Hang out at your local cafe
- Play at Sharks Pool Club
- Explore Chelsea Market
- Enjoy Eataly
- Get a massage at Chelsea Wellness
- Visit City Winery
- Blue Note Jazz Club
- Sign up for a salsa lesson
- Go Ice Skating
- Watch a performance at the Lincoln Center
- Shop the Strand Bookstore
- Have drinks at an indoor rooftop bar
- Aire Ancient Baths
- Laugh at the Comedy Cellar
- Visit a speakeasy
- Explore the Turnstyle Underground Market
- Get lost in Industry City
- Explore Chelsea Market
Map of the best indoor things to do in NYC on a rainy day
And there you have it, folks! My roundup of the best things to do during a NYC rainy day. I hope you found it useful.