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While Netflix and movies sell New York as a sunny city, there are times when the heavens open, so this guide reveals the best things to do in NYC when it rains!
Regardless of whether you are a local trying to make plans or a visitor creating an itinerary, you’ll find the following NYC indoor activities fun, accessible, and diverse, so there is something to entertain everyone.
Have we missed out on your favorite NYC rainy-day attraction? Tell us in the comments!
Indoor Things to do in NYC when it Rains for Adults
Dive Into a Coffee Shop
This may sound like an obvious NYC rainy day activity because it is!
The city has no shortage of coffee shops, so when the heavens open, you know where to escape to, but just make sure the cafe offers more than just counter-serve.
Hot tip! Cafes aimed at freelancers or co-working spaces tend to be a little bigger because they expect customers to dine with a laptop.
Here are a few suggestions of unique coffee shops in NYC because we love a business with a story.
The Bean on Broadway (771 Broadway) is a large space with lots of tables, free Wi-Fi, and vegan options.
Pietro Nolita (174 Elizabeth St) has a bubble gum pink interior, perfect if you want to pose with your pumpkin-spiced latte.
Caffe Reggio (119 MacDougal St) in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village is one of the oldest coffee shops in NYC and is known for its ‘magnificent espresso machine’!
If you can afford it, Greenwich Village is a dreamy location to stay in and where you’ll find the filming location for Carrie Bradshaw’s Upper Eastside apartment.
If you find yourself near Grand Central when the rain starts, pop into Cafe Grumpy for a window seat.
Speaking of Grand Central!
Visit The Beaux-Arts Landmark, Grand Central
Since it has a roof, Grand Central is also an option for a quick rainy-day activity on 42nd Street.
The original building was built in 1871 and was initially called Grand Central Depot until 1901, when renovations took place along with a change of name to Grand Central Station.
In 1913, a new building was built, the Grand Central Terminal.
During your visit, stand in the Main Concourse to feel the buzz of the Grand Central Terminal and look up to see the celestial mural with more than 2,500 stars on the roof.
People watch as friends greet each other under the four-faced opal clock, a popular meeting place before cellphones shared our exact location!
Grand Central has featured in many movies, such as Men in Black and Superman, and is also the backdrop to a BTS music video.
You can do a couple of other rainy-day things without leaving Grand Central, which we’ll discuss next.
Grand Central Oyster Bar
Grand Central is not just a transportation hub.
It is also a shopping and dining center.
The Grand Central Oyster Bar is the oldest restaurant at this landmark and it has been serving oysters for over 100 years!
You can enjoy your own little salty piece of history paired with over 80 types of wine.
There’s over 25 types of fish and 30 varieties of oysters so if you enjoy seafood, you won’t even notice its is raining out.
If you’re just starting out on your oyster journey, go for the Long Island which the staff refer to as the ‘beginner’s oyster’ as it is mild.
Central Market New York
Grab a snack or lunch at the sandwich-centric Central Market New York shop located on the lower level near Track 116.
The menu includes bagels, grilled cheese and wraps.
Magnolia Bakery from Sex and the City fame is located on the lower level of Grand Central too.
However, the bakery that features in the TV show is found at Bleecker Street in the West Village so if you want to do your best Carrie and Miranda eating a cupcake, wait for the rain to stop and head there.
Oculus New York
Sticking with the transport theme, next up we have Oculus New York in lower Manhattan.
This is a super modern building so a cool contrast to the historic Grand Central.
People use the Oculus to hop on subways or the World Trade Center PATH station.
There’s also commercial stores like Apple, UGG, H&M, art, and musical performances.
Oculus is a popular photography spot.
Afternoon Tea, Dahling
One of our favorite food-related pastimes is gorging ourselves on multiple rounds of sweet and savory snacks, washed down with tea or fizz if we’re feeling fancy.
Afternoon teas tend to start with palate cleanser then a round of savory sandwiches and pastries before a serving of warm scones and cakes.
While this is a quintessentially British dining experience, there are tea rooms in New York that dish up this lavish meal.
Check out The Palm Court at The Plaza for opulence, The Russian Tea Room for history, and Little Choc Apothecary for vegan and gluten free afternoon tea at a reasonable price.
Food Hall Feeds
We love upmarket food courts because there is no pressure on everyone eating the same style of food!
Some of the most popular food markets in NYC are Chelsea Market, UbranSpace Vanderbilt, Gotham West Market and Gansevoort Market.
Indulge In Desserts
NYC is all about the food and it has lots of the sweet stuff on offer.
Morgan Library and Museum
This research library and museum in Manhattan has a series of rooms such as Mr Morgan’s Library, Study, Morgan Stanley Estate Galleries, the Marble Hall and the Morgan Dining Room.
Artifacts include Beethoven’s music papers and drafts by Jane Austen.
See a Broadway Show
Nothing beats being whisked away to a different location for a few hours, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating.
Seeing a Broadway show is a great way to go out while staying indoors without the use of VR!
Broadway also features in our guide to things to do at Times Square.
Relax at a Spa
If your hotel doesn’t have a spa facility or your dinky NYC shower just doesn’t cut it, consider booking yourself for some R&R to avoid the rain forecast?
AIRE Ancient Baths is located in an 100 year industrial building, Shibui Spa offers lux tranquility and Spa Castle has a nude bath area and hydrotherapy pools.
Laugh At A Comedy Show
Don’t let the wet weather get you down, lighten up the mood by watching local and international comedians perform in the city that never sleeps.
Strike it lucky at the closest bowling alley.
Check out Frames (Hells Kitchen), Bowlmor’s (Midtown) or Brooklyn Bowl (Brooklyn).
Do you need bumpers? We do! No shame.
Shuffleboard is not reserved for more mature adults on cruises or family BBQs!
Adults of all ages, and hair colors, can pick up a puck at At The Wallace (Broadway) and Cellar Dogs (Greenwich Village).
Go To An Escape Room
If you’re in a large group, escape rooms are a sensible choice when looking for indoor activities in NYC for groups.
The aim of the game is to make your way through a series of clues under timed conditions.
This is a cool way to connect with your friends because you have to work together and keep calm under the pressure – a great way to kill an hour or two while waiting for the rain to stop.
Many have themes such as prison breaks or heists!
Have a Drink to Live Music
Head to the likes of Fraunces Tavern (54 Pearl St) in the Financial District for live music in a packed bar.
If you crowds are too much, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to grab a drink while the live music plays over the sound system.
This is a festive pub if visiting at NYC at Christmas.
Listen to a Symphony
If you’ve never been to a symphony before, NYC is the perfect city for your first time as the New York Philharmonic (10 Lincoln Center Plaza) features violins, violas, cellos, basses, flutes, piccolo, oboes, clarinets, percussion, pianos, and often performs with guests.
That’s a lotta bang for your buck!
The David Geffen Hall, where shows take place, first opened in 1962 and it seats 2,738.
Not all shows are hardcore Beethoven, some play along with popular movies, acting as gateway to orchestra music!
Hit the Jazz Clubs
Have your own La La Land moment at one of the jazz clubs in NYC.
Head to Bill’s in Harlem for an intimate, no-frills BYOB experience or The Django at The Roxy for live music and food.
If you prefer to see jazz with a group, consider this Harlem jazz tour at a Presbyterian church.
You might also like our guide to NYC at night.
Join a Pub Crawl
The tour includes a visit to three or four bars around Little Italy and Nolita, as well as history about the neighborhoods.
Drinks are not included.
Things to do in NYC indoors don’t always have to revolve around drinking.
Avoid the cold green and hit a few balls at the The Hack Shack (108 W 39th St Suite 310) or Five Iron Golf (138 5th Ave).
Book A NBC Tour
If you’re a fan of Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show or Late Night With… check out the NBC Studio Tour (30 Rockefeller Plaza).
Here you can learn about the history of the network and see the NBC Production Gallery and at least two NBC studios.
You can also apply to see a show.
Watch the ultimate cabaret, burlesque!
While you won’t see Cher or Christina on stage, you might just experience a striptease from the future Dita!
Red Velvet Entertainment (621 W 46th St), Burlesque Nights @333 Lounge (333 Flatbush Ave) and The Sweet Spot Burlesque, NYC (149 7th St) all put on shows.
Join the Drag Race
Ready to be gagged at one of NYC’s drag shows?
Check out Illusions the Drag Queen Show (237 W 47th St) for celebrity impersonation drag queen entertainment and Lips Drag Queen Show Palace (227 E 56th St) for brunch, drinks and a drag show.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
One of the most popular indoor activities in New York City is the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at Midtown.
See some of the world’s most impressive contemporary art such as Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans and The Dance (I) by Matisse.
Since there are six floors of art galleries at the MoMA you can easily spend a day getting lost in inspiration.
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Experience
SUMMIT (45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017) claims to be the city’s most immersive observatory experience!
This modern sky deck is 1401 feet high, 77 stories up and starts with an ear popping elevator ride to the 91st floor.
Read more in our guide to NYC observation decks.
New York One World Observatory
For a more traditional observatory to hide from NYC in the rain, consider the One World Observatory and learn more about the 9/11 terrorist attack that changed the world forever.
The official opening year of this deck was 2014, 13 years after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the original World Trade Center aka the Twin Towers.
One World Observatory is also known as the Freedom Tower.
Indoor Activities for Kids and Teens in NYC
Museum of Ice Cream
Play with your food, Wednesday!
Swoosh about in sprinkles (jimmies), ride the dream subway, and savor sweet treats at the Museum of Ice Cream (558 Broadway).
Get your tickets here to avoid going out in NYC on a rainy day.
Watch A Movie
Up for seeing the latest release or more of an indy house kinda movie watcher?
You’ll find with heaps of choice in NYC such as vintage theaters at Metrograph (7 Ludlow St), Film Forum (209 W Houston St) and Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 & RPX (247 W 42nd St) or modern complexes at AMC Empire 25 (234 W 42nd St).
Immerse Yourself In Virtual Reality
If you’re not a fan of rainy days, consider escaping the reality altogether!
At VR World (10 E 34th St), you can transport yourself to a different location.
There are jet pack simulators, tours of Notre Dame, and the opportunity to walk a 480-foot plank.
Play Arcade Games
Pinball, Pac-Man or PS, whatever your poison, there are plenty of family-friendly arcade games in NYC.
Dave & Buster’s (234 W 42nd St 3rd Floor) and Land-O-Fun (2955 Coney Island Ave) offer a variety of game options for all ages.
Shake off some of your energy at an indoor trampoline park.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park (29 Lecount Pl, New Rochelle, outside of NYC) is the most popular and offers freestyle bouncing and dodgeball.
While most people think of ice-skating in NYC they probably image a festive scene with the rink under the Rockefeller but there is also a seasonal covered ice rink at Riverbank State Park too.
During the summer you can…
During the dry seasons, the covered rink at Riverbank State Park is used by skaters.
Check Out The New York Public Library (NYPL)
Step inside to escape the dismal weather and take advantage of the free daily tours at the New York Public Library.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is located at Midtown Manhattan on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street and gives us real Harry Potter vibes.
Where to stay in Manhattan
When visiting NYC for the first time, Manhattan is the best option for those who want to be to be close to tourist attractions.
One of the challenges of staying in Manhattan is the cost of hotels, however, it is worth weighing up how much can be saved when you down travel time.
Alternatively, stay in Lower Manhattan in the Financial District which has excellent transport links and is also close to Brooklyn.
Another option is to stay in the Financial District (FiDi) Lower Manhattan, as it is a little easier on the credit card!
No need to wonder what to do on a rainy day in NYC now that you have this exciting list of indoor activities!
Did we miss your favorite? Tell us in the comments.
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