New York City residents can expect about 46 inches of rain, sleet, or snow every year. With approximately 119 days of precipitation annually, this popular tourist destination is rich with a diverse array of indoor and covered outdoor activities. Whether you live in NYC or you’re just dropping by, you’ll definitely want a list of attractions for keeping you and your companions entertained when the weather is wet and overcast. From exploring the city’s thriving art culture to experiencing the very best of local cuisine, there are countless ways to enjoy your time during a downpour.
Note: We try to keep everything current, but please call the venue first to make sure they are open before heading there.
Give Rock Climbing a Go
Exciting indoor activities exist for those who love getting their heart rates up. NYC is home to some of the top gyms in the nation, and one such facility, Brooklyn Boulders offers rock climbing and fitness classes for both adults and youth. In addition to getting group or individual climbing training, you can also take part in auto-belays, lead climbing, and top roping.
Go to an Ice Skating Rink
If rock climbing isn’t for you, consider lacing up a pair of ice skates to take part in an activity that’s long been a major part of NYC culture. There are several covered skating rinks in the city, as well as a few places where skating is held entirely indoors. At Riverbank State Park, skaters can cover their admission and the cost of skate rentals for well under $10 per person. Both engaging and economical, this is a fun way to make lasting memories, burn calories, and enjoy the great outdoors even when the weather isn’t on your side.
New York City is also home to some excellent roller skating rinks, and they aren’t just the endless skate loop they used to be, either. Skaterobics in Brooklyn offers classes that teach you how to skate and roller dance classes for overachievers (think fancy footwork and Olympians spinning on roller skates).
Take a Hot Tub Boat Tour
If you’re visiting the city during a time of especially inclement weather, this doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on all of the most popular sites and attractions. Taking a hot tub boat tour is an excellent way to enjoy warmth and comfort, even as you sightsee and explore. Hot tub boat tours depart just 10 minutes away from Manhattan and last about an hour and a half.
Passengers can relax in soothing, chlorinated, and professionally maintained spas that are situated directly on the boat deck and covered by a large canopy. Rain or shine, these excursions are perfect for couples and small to medium-sized groups of friends. They even allow passengers to bring along their own beer and wine, and have on-deck accommodations for keeping personal beverages cooled.
Hit the Bowling Lanes
If you have time to spare on a rainy day (sorry, we just couldn’t resist that play on words), the Big Apple offers stellar bowling opportunities. Bowling is an excellent indoor activity for couples, friends, and the entire family, and it is also a fun activity for wherever you travel. At Frames Bowling NYC, adults can sing karaoke, play billiards, bowl, battle each other in ping pong, or hang out in a luxurious lounge. Patrons have access to a full bar and an impressive array of specialty and mixed drinks. They can also dine on everything from flatbread pizzas and nachos to coconut shrimp and tempura.
Make Furry Friends at a Cat Cafe
Japanese-inspired cat cafes are a great place to spend a rainy day if you’re a bona fide cat lover. These locations are centered around all things feline, however, many also offer food and beverages. You can visit to pet and play with highly socialized cats or even adopt and take a new one home. At Koneko Cat Cafe in downtown Manhattan, you can indulge in authentic Japanese cuisine and sake while getting your snuggles in.
Luxuriate with a Spa Treatment
A spa day in NYC is guaranteed to leave you feeling invigorated, pampered and looking your very best. This city is home to some of the latest and most popular, non-invasive skin treatments. You can indulge in everything from hydrating hydra-facials to a full-body skin tightening mask, or you can simply visit a location that pampers you from head to toe with massages, luxuriating soaks, and other rejuvenating therapies.
One popular spot among both NYC locals and tourists alike is Oasis Day Spa. From waxing and nail care to full body tanning and massages, Oasis Day Spa offers it all. Clients can enjoy exfoliating scrubs and rejuvenating wraps, or they can take advantage of comprehensive spa packages.
Attend Broadway Theatre
Theatres across NYC are coming out of hibernation, meaning there will be live performances once again. It’s all part of NY PopsUp, a city-wide festival that’s encouraging people to get out and explore the arts. Music Box Theatre was the first to open in March, and other flex venues that are open already, according to New York Theatre Guide, include The Apollo, National Black theatre, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Park Avenue Armory, The Glimmerglass Festival’s Alice Busch Opera Theater, The SHED and La MaMa.
However, don’t confuse Broadway theatres with Broadway shows, which unfortunately, is not up and running just yet. Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer, and the current buzz says that Broadway shows will likely commence again in the fall.
Lose Yourself in NYC Book Shops
Bibliophiles will love NYC, regardless of the elements. Whether you’re looking to get your hands on a New York Times bestseller or a signed copy of an out-of-print work, there are plenty of locations to find exactly what you’re looking for. You can take a quick trip to the New York Public library to browse titles and marvel at the impressive architecture, or you can drop into Left Bank Books for rare finds or Strand Bookstore for popular and new releases.
Take Online or In-Person Cooking Classes
Given its long-standing reputation for world-class national and international cuisine, NYC is one of the absolute best places to take a cooking class. Whether you want to learn how to make decadent baked goods to impress your friends, or the perfect New York City slice, there are ample options in classes to choose from. On cold, stormy days that keep you confined to your hotel room, consider booking an online course at Pizza School NYC. In-person courses for preparing everything from flaky, professional-quality croissants to hearty, home-cooked meals can be found at Mille-Fuelle Bakery and Cozymeal Cooking Classes NYC.
Crawl the NYC Food Markets and Halls
Just as there’s much to see and do in NYC, there’s also a lot of exceptional cuisine to experience. Rather than attempting to hit every top-rated restaurant for every cuisine type, you can use your rainy afternoons to visit some of the most popular food halls and markets in the city. These indoor food markets offer a mind-boggling array of decadent, gourmet foods at multiple price points. Fun, affordable, and an essential part of your NYC itinerary, spots like Chelsea Market, The Bronx Food Market, Gansevoort Liberty Market, and Industry City Food Hall will give you access to a variety of produce stalls, counter-serve eateries, popups and specialty food shops.
Ride the International Express
NYC train stations are a veritable portal to all the world, and you can experience it all for the mere price of a subway token. Take a rainy day ride on the International Express to see multiple New York neighborhoods from the elevated position of the National Millennium Trail as you travel from Times Square all the way to Flushing, Queens. You’ll have access to numerous options in dining along the way, including nearly every imaginable type of international cuisine.
Enjoy Culture at a NYC Gallery
New York City is the epicentre of the art world, and there is a wealth of galleries here. If you’ve got an umbrella handy and don’t mind splashing around in a few puddles, you can take in some at the Long Gallery Harlem; an innovative outdoor exhibit with paintings and other pieces promoting racial equity. Also, there is the outstanding digital experience at Artechouse and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum where you can see actual NASA equipment and real spaceships. Of course, no visit to NYC is complete without a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Modern Art.
Challenge Yourself with an Escape Room
Escape rooms in NYC offer the perfect adventures for small or medium-sized groups on rainy afternoons and evenings. At these locations, visitors must work in teams to solve puzzles, find hints and clues, and unravel mysteries. With the goal of escaping a locked room within one hour or less, escape rooms encourage problem-solving under pressure, critical thinking, and collaboration.
Some of the best escape rooms in the City offer both in-person and online challenges. Therefore, if the outside weather is too cold and blustery to make it out of your hotel room, you can still participate. With just a 25 percent escape rate and multiple rooms to solve, BrainXscape consistently ranks among the top locations for in-person action.
Go to the UN Headquarters
Located alongside the East River on 18 acres, is the United Nations Headquarters. Over 1 million people visit the UN annually, and if you are a history or architecture buff the spot is a must-see. Tickets are required for a visit, but you can usually score some with relatively short notice. During the weekdays, there is usually a guided tour, and as part of it, you’ll get to see the Economic and Social Council Chamber, Security Council Chamber and the Trusteeship Council Chamber.
You’ll also find out how the UN deals with world issues as disarmament, peace, human rights and security. Lastly, a lot of New Yorkers haven’t set foot in UN Headquarters, so you’d be one up on them if you visit.
Note: as of 4/22/21, the UN Headquarters is temporarily closed to the public.
Shop at the Oculus
When visiting the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, you’ll likely notice a large white building that has steel fashioned wing-shaped tips that reach toward the heavens. That’s the Oculus, a transportation center and shopping mall that’s adjacent to the One World Trade Center. These shopping malls are also known as the Westfield World Trade Center, and they feature 19,000 square feet of shopping nirvana. There you can pick up clothing, mugs, bags, pet gear and lots of retail items bearing the iconic phrase, “I ❤NY.” After you’ve finished immersing yourself in the shopping experience at the Oculus, you can move on to Macy’s Herald Square for the one-of-a-kind department-store treatment and the Shops at Columbus Circle for its large collection of stores.
Visit a NYC Museum
There are over 80 museums scattered throughout the five boroughs, so you’ve definitely got a wealth of options when it comes to taking rainy-day museum tours. Here are three that really represent the spirit of New York City you’ll want to start out with:
The American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History has been around for 150 years. The site offers fun family programs, festivals, science socials and virtual field trips. But…who are we kidding? It’s their immersive exhibits that are the biggest draw. Past exhibitions have included a lifelike and jaw-dropping T rex model and rarely-exhibited Peruvian and Egyptian mummies.
Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
The United States welcomed 8 million distressed immigrants through the doors of the New York State immigration station at Ellis Island. And, you can find out about the history of what made New York City the melting pot of culture it is today at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Afterward, you can head to the Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island to see the 1903 plaque about this historic migration. The plaque includes the famous words of Emma Lazarus emblazoned on it that reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
9/11 Museum Workshop
The 9/11 Museum Workshop in the Meatpacking District is dedicated to never forgetting the events of 9/11. During the experience, you’ll get to see a massive pane of World Trade Center window glass, the chilling “Genesis 11: Charred Bible Page” and the “Frozen Clock” featured on CNN. You’ll also get to experience what it was like to be on the front lines with FDNY first responders after the 9/11 Attacks.
The Wrap Up
No matter what your interests are or the dynamics of your travel group may be, there is always plenty to see and do in NYC when it’s raining. In fact, there’s such a vast range of indoor sites and activities to engage in, most trips are hardly affected by inclement weather at all. From exposing your palate to both new international flavors and long-time national favorites, to soaking your stresses away while sailing the Hudson Bay, you’ll find countless ways to fill your time while experiencing the vast and incredibly diverse mix of cultures, lifestyles, and communities.