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Things to do in NYC on a Rainy Day

In Guides, New York, See & Do by Megan ILeave a Comment

Looking for things to do in NYC on a rainy day? We’ve got you covered. Don’t let a little rain ruin your day or time in the city. What’s awesome is that there are tons of options and things to do indoors in NYC including anything and everything from museums, entertainment options like shows or bars that have games, to enjoying a relaxing day at the spa, in a cozy cafe, or browsing titles in any of the many bookshops in the city.

There’s something about rainy days in NYC that are a bit enchanting. I’m not trying to go out of my way to romanticize gloomy weather, but the city sort of has a Gotham feel to it when it rains. 

If you don’t want to get wet, don’t worry – we have plenty of suggestions for things to do in NYC when it rains! Whether you’re a visitor whose NYC itinerary or trip calls for some unexpected rain or a local looking for some creative things to do in New York when it’s raining – we’ve got ideas for you!

Things to do Indoors in NYC on a Rainy Day

Hit up the Museums

Whitney Museum of American Art Museum in NYC

One of the most popular things to do in NYC when it rains is to visit a museum! There are several incredible museums in NYC and even free museums in NYC to visit!

Better yet, there are more incredible cultural institutions in the boroughs too, take, for example, exploring the best museums in Brooklyn. One of the best is the Brooklyn Museum, which is the city’s third-largest museum with a collection of over 500,000 works from all over the world including impressive collections of Egyptian and African art not to mention their 17th-20th centuries collection of sculptures and paintings.

The Brooklyn Museum is always showcasing new, temporary exhibits. Special exhibits may require additional tickets or fees. 

Another great rainy day NYC museum is the American Museum of Natural History! This massive museum is easy to spend an entire day at located along Central Park West. Here, you can expect to learn more about their collections including over 34 million specimens of rocks, minerals, human remains, cultural artifacts, plants, animals, fossils, and more across their 45 permanent exhibition halls as well as the Hayden Planetarium.

Alternatively, another one of the most famous museums to visit on a rainy day in NYC is across Central Park off 5th Avenue, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, famous for being the largest art museum in the country with a permanent collection of over 2 million pieces of artwork not to mention its also one of the largest art galleries in the world.

These museums are some of the most famous and an easy way to spend a good portion of your rainy day in NYC. Although there are literally too many museums to count, if you’ve already seen the classics, check out a few other great museums like the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Located in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, the museum houses works from some of the best American artists from the 20th and 21st centuries including works from Edward Hopper, Robert Henri, Georgia O’Keefe, Andy Warhol, and Theodore Robinson to name a few not to mention their focus on featuring living American artists too.

Other cool museums include the Guggenheim on the Upper East Side along Central Park on 5th Avenue, Morgan Library & Museum in Murray Hill, and the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn to name a few more!

PSST…visiting museums can add up! And many of the free museums or pay-as-you-wish museums are only for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut residents. Another way to save big on your NYC itinerary is to get an attraction pass. 

The New York Pass which you can purchase anywhere from a 1 Day Pass to a 10 Day Pass that gets you into over 100 attractions, including tons of museums! Once you purchase your New York Pass you download the Go City app and use that to get up to 45% savings on popular attractions as well as a few hidden gem attractions ranging from the city’s top attractions like the observation decks to under-the-radar museums and attractions.

See our full breakdown of the New York Pass

Check out Art Galleries

One of the best rainy day activities in NYC is visiting an art gallery! The city is riddled with cool art galleries, many of our favorite are the art galleries in Brooklyn too.

You’ll find that there are a few neighborhoods that have a higher concentration of galleries to explore on a rainy day in NYC too – for example, Chelsea in Manhattan is famous for having hundreds of galleries in a smaller area, a few of which we mention below.

If you’re wanting to check out galleries in Brooklyn be sure to check out the neighborhoods of Red Hook, DUMBO, and Bushwick where you’ll find a healthy amount of galleries to browse.

If you’re in the mood to view contemporary art, be sure to check out the Jim Kempner Fine Art Gallery in Chelsea. This gallery showcases modern drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more!

Another excellent art gallery nearby is the Guy Hepner Gallery. This unique gallery has many different prints on display and for sale. If you visit here, you’ll be able to see some of the biggest names in pop art like Andy Warhol and Banksy.

If you’re in Brooklyn and you still want to enjoy New York when it’s raining, be sure to check out Minus Space. Minus Space is an art gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn, specializing in abstract and reductive art. If you visit this gallery, expect to be exposed to artists from all around the world!

Find Your Next Book

Albertine-Bookstore-in-NYC

There’s something so comforting about browsing titles in any of the amazing indie bookshops in NYC on a rainy day. Take it up a notch by picking out your new read than finding the perfect charming cafe to cozy up at and start reading your new book paired with a latte or tea for hours.

One of the best things to do indoors in NYC is to find your next read by browsing our incredible bookshops. One of the most famous bookstores in the city is The Strand. The Strand is the largest non-commercialized bookstore in the entire state and is the only survivor of Book Row, an old row of bookstores that no longer exist today. Here, you can find new, used, and rare books – a real treat for the bibliophile. 

Another great rainy day NYC indie bookstore is Books are Magic in Cobble Hill. This is one of the best bookstores in Brooklyn that offers an impressive collection of titles, many rare books, and readings by authors among other events.

McNally Jackson Books has several locations around the city and is another excellent choice when trying to find your next read. With four locations throughout NYC, my favorite might be the Seaport District location complete with a cozy cafe.

And while this list could go on and on (seriously there are so many good bookstores in NYC), another stand out bookshop is Albertine! This bookstore is a reading room and bookshop all in one and offers the most extensive collection of French books in America, not to mention this is probably the most whimsical of bookstores in the city. 

Catch a Movie

Nitehawk-Cinema-in-Brooklyn-Prospect-Park-in-Windsor-Terrace-and-Park-Slope

Catching a movie is one of the best indoor things to do in NYC, especially on a rainy day! One of the most unique theaters in the city is Nitehawk Cinema, which has two Brooklyn movie theater locations in Park Slope and Williamsburg. This cinema is great for anyone that wants a rainy day NYC movie theater experience complete with cocktails and a full bar plus a restaurant that will serve you as you watch the show. 

Another great rainy day NYC theater is the IFC Center, an art-house theater known for showing independent films. Formerly known as Waverly Theater, this cinema is located in Greenwich Village near Waverly Place. 

The Angelika Film Center & Cafe in SoHo is another great choice to catch an indie flick on a rainy day in NYC. This boutique theater offers a mix of movies plus a cafe on site.

Another great option for a movie theater with a full on dining experience is IPIC Theater in Seaport Historic District in Manhattan. This full-service theater showcases the blockbuster hits while you dine and drink on their plush seating.

Visit a Speakeasy

One of the best things to do indoors in NYC is to visit a speakeasy! New York has a hotbed of speakeasy bars and creative mixologists who make having your next drink an entire experience.

There are tons of great speakeasies in NYC worth checking out. One worth checking out is Little Branch in the West Village.  This underground den-like speakeasy that’s dimly lit, snug and cozy, and serves up great drinks. 

Another cool hidden bar worth checking out on a rainy day in NYC is Blind Barber in the East Village! This day-time old-school barbershop has a secret, it has a lively speakeasy with dance tunes in the back. Perhaps you first need a cut, then follow up with heading back to the secret bar to show off your new hair.

Tour the New York Public Library

famous lion statues outside New York Public Library in NYC where Ghostbusters was filmed

One of the best indoor things to do in NYC for all ages is visiting the New York Public Library. Now technically there are over 90 locations for NYPL, but the one we are referring to is the famous one, Main Branch located on 5th Ave and Bryant Park.

Come ready to work or explore. A few spots you don’t want to miss are first being greeted by the two famous lions, Patience and Fortitude who also are movie stars seen in various productions of tv series and movies that used NYPL as a backdrop including Ghostbusters!

Inside the library be sure to check out Astor Hall, Rose Reading Room, Rare Book Division, and the Children’s section where you can find the original Winnie the Pooh and friends on display.

Hit up the City’s Most Exciting Bars

Williamsburg Full Circle Bar and SKEEBALL bar in Brooklyn

Okay, I know we already mentioned speakeasies but one of the most fun indoor activities in NYC for adults is hitting up one of the city’s most exciting bars! And by exciting, we mean bars that also have a cool entertainment element built into their business.

One bar that has an exciting atmosphere and live music is Brooklyn Bowl. Located in Greenpoint, this bar is a bar and bowling alley all in one! Here, you can expect to find delicious cocktails, lots of dancing, and food served by Blue Ribbon. 

Another fantastic, Brooklyn-based bar is Full Circle Bar in Williamsburg. This bar offers unlimited skeeball play and affordable beer, the perfect place to hang out for hours with pals on a rainy day in NYC.

If you want to go bar hopping, be sure to hit up Barcade. This bar + arcade has a full bar with a nice selection of brews on draft plus a large collection of vintage video games and pinball machines you can play. There are locations in Chelsea and Williamsburg.

Lastly, if you find yourself exploring Gowanus in Brooklyn, be sure to hit up The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club! This bar serves delicious cocktails, has occasional live music, offers various food trucks to choose from, and has shuffleboard courts inside for guests to use. 

New York Aquarium 

Shark tunnel at New York Aquarium at Coney Island Brooklyn

One of the best rainy day activities in NYC is to visit the New York Aquarium in Coney Island! This aquarium is the oldest operating aquarium in the United States and is located on the famous boardwalk at Coney Island.

While there are some outdoor exhibits of the aquarium, the sea lions don’t seem to mind the rain, most of the exhibits are indoors including the impressive sharks exhibit featuring a tunnel that visitors walk through surrounded by coral reefs and 115 different species including 18 different species of sharks and rays, sea turtles, fish and more all around you and above your head.

You need to reserve your tickets in advance, see our full guide for tips and tricks for visiting the New York Aquarium.

Cozy Up in a Cool Café

Felix Roasting Company cafe in NYC

One of the best indoor things to do in NYC is to visit a cozy coffee shop! We are huge fans of the great cafes in the city and there are so many Brooklyn coffee shops we love too.

One coffee hot spot worth checking out is Devocion. This shop has locations throughout NYC, including one in Williamsburg and one in Flatiron. Each shop is large, has cozy seating, and offers free WiFi, making it a great spot to stop and do work or read a book on a rainy day in NYC.

Another great rainy day NYC coffee shop is Felix Roasting Co. which has SoHo and Midtown locations. These cafes are honestly stunning and rather than feeling like you’re in a cafe, you feel like you’re on a set of some cool photoshoot or Wes Anderson film. The SoHo location is in the photograph above and the Midtown location has a completely different set up and interior design with two floors. 

If you want to combine the best rainy day activities in NYC, be sure to check out Remi Flower & Coffee. This spot is a coffee shop and florist all in one! Located in Midtown East, this cozy spot offers great lattes and custom floral arrangements that are great for a wide range of occasions. There’s something nice about a pretty bouquet of flowers to brighten up a gloomy rainy day in NYC.

Another spot worth visiting in New York when it’s raining is Milk + Roses. Located in Greenpoint, Milk + Roses is an Italian restaurant, library, and garden all in one! This intimate cafe often has live music and delicious wines, making it an excellent spot for anyone searching for fun indoor activities in NYC for adults!

Visit Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal in NYC

One of the most iconic indoor activities in NYC is exploring Grand Central Terminal. This commuter rail terminal is located on East 42nd Street and is known for being the busiest train station in the country, not to mention one of the most beautiful. The interior of this train station is unlike any other and boasts stunning, detailed features that are worth taking a moment and admiring, like the celestial ceiling in the main concourse.

Better yet, this is a great rainy day activity in NYC because there are a multiple cool points of interest inside.

For instance, the Whispering Gallery. The Whispering Gallery is a domed intersection of two walkways on the lower level. Here, you can hear everything, including the quietest whisper. One person goes into one corner and the other in the opposite diagonally and you can whisper to each other clear as day even though you’re around 30 feet away from one another.

If you want to have an outstanding indoor dining experience in Grand Central Terminal, stop by the food concourse in the lower level where you can find all kinds of great places from fast food to Michelin star eateries to enjoy including Grand Central Oyster Bar! This iconic eatery not only has an epic location but has been a mainstay for nearly a century.

Besides having great places to dine, Grand Central Terminal also has shopping too (~65 shops to give you an idea!) from huge retailers like Apple to small shops.

And, if you want to learn all about the fascinating stories and details behind this legendary landmark in the city, consider booking Secrets of Grand Central Terminal Tour that takes you through the fascinating history as well as some of the gems inside including the hidden tennis court, the story behind the celestial ceiling art, and much more. Book here.

See a Show 

Tickets-to-Moulin-Rouge-outside-the-Al-Hirschfield-Theater-at-Broadway-in-NYC

One of the best things to do in NYC when it rains, and on any visit, is to see a show on Broadway! NYC always has so many incredible shows that it’s actually hard to pick what to see.

Didn’t plan onto visit New York when it’s raining? Well don’t worry, there are so many shows and theaters that you can actually buy tickets the day of, most often at a discount by visiting the TKTS booth and asking for same-day shows! You might not get to see sold out shows this way (or maybe, it’s worth checking) but there are so many shows surely you can find one.

If you have a little time to plan ahead, you can also check websites like SeatGeek, a popular ticket search engine that makes finding tickets Broadway quick and easy! Plus when you add our promo code BROOKLYNGUIDE to your SeatGeek account, you receive $20 off your first ticket purchase. (We receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

Musicals aren’t the only type of shows that come aplenty in the city, another one of the best things to do indoors in New York is to see a comedy show!

Head to the Village where you can find some of the most popular comedy clubs in the city like the Comedy Cellar. This comedy club consistently has top comedians from all around New York to perform. You’ll want to try to get tickets in advance, but if you don’t you can show up an hour or so before the show and see if you can get in on standby.

Or if you’re into hitting up the smaller, more intimate comedy venues consider checking out any of the many great comedy shows happening in Brooklyn!

Enjoy a Day at the Spa

Treat yourself in New York when it’s raining by escaping the gloom and having the ultimate day of relaxation by visiting one of the cool spas in the city.

QC NY Spa at Governors Island wins for having the most stellar location. You can find a day of serenity and rejuvenation with over 20 different wellness experiences at this spa, including a Vichy shower, infrared beds, themed saunas, and relaxation rooms.

AIRE Ancient Baths located in Lower Manhattan, this unique spa offers different types of massages and hot baths. They also have rooms for meditative aromatherapy experiences and many couples’ packages!

The Spa at Equinox in Hudson Yards offers many things to do in NYC when it rains. This indoor oasis has saunas, facials, massages, and cryotherapy to name a few of the many wellness experiences you can enjoy here. This spa is located inside the Equinox Hotel and is a great place to sit back and relax during a rainy day in NYC.

Another great spa is the Bamford Wellness Spa in Brooklyn located at the 1 Hotel. This spa is known for its full-body massages and facial treatments you can book.

One more worth mentioning, there are so many, is Chillhouse who has its Flagship in SoHo West. This sweet spot offers multiple spa services a la carte including a cafe in a ‘cool’ spa aesthetic setting and offers everything from facials, to massages, to mani-pedis and more. But their main feature is that they offer memberships where you can subscribe and get monthly treatments that you can use or save for those rainy days in NYC.

They have a pretty cool concept if you’re frequently getting treatments this could be worth it for you – especially if you’re a local and can enjoy their services easily – otherwise check out their one-time experiences.

These are some of the best things to do indoors in NYC, so use the next rainy day as an excuse to truly treat yo’self.

Museum of Ice Cream

One of the most popular things to do indoors in NYC, even when it’s not raining, is to visit the Museum of Ice Cream. Located in SoHo, this ice cream and the candy-themed museum has many colorful, photo-worthy exhibits that’s fun for all ages.

Not to mention, you get ICE CREAM! Book your tickets online to secure your spot for this highly popular tourist attraction in the city!

The Friends Experience

The Friends Experience is one of the best things to do indoors in NYC! This unique experience allows you to experience set recreations and original props and costumes from the legendary show Friends!

And for the die-hard fans, food, drinks, and souvenirs are also available for purchase. Be sure to book your tickets online to secure a spot.

Try a Rainy Day Friendly Tour or Experience

One of the best indoor things to do in NYC is to take a tour! Whether you’re a tourist or local, the guided tours throughout the city are always a fun way to get out and learn more, and better yet there are quite a few that are perfect for a rainy day in NYC.

One of the best tours in the city is the Sex and the City Sites Bus Tour! On this guided bus tour, you’ll be taken through many places where the iconic show was filmed. 

Another great indoor tour is the Catacombs by Candlelight Tour. This 1.5-hour guided tour will take you through the catacombs at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Nolita that are not open to the public. Along the way, you’ll learn all about the history of this famous landmark. Pssst…this tour is also included on the New York Pass for those who are bundling experiences to save money!

So if the catacombs are in the original catholic cathedral, hence the name ‘Old Cathedral.’ The St. Patricks Cathedral that comes to mind for most is the more famous and larger cathedral that was built later further uptown on 5th Avenue, St Patrick’s Cathedral. 

This is definitely one of the most beautiful houses of worship in the country and you can learn all about it on a Self-Guided Audio Tour. This self-guided tour allows you to explore the iconic landmark at your own pace and learn more about each part of the church, another perfect option for indoor activities in NYC.

One of the most unique things to do indoors in NYC with a group of friends is an escape room experience. The Escape Game’s 1-Hour Escape Room Adventure is a great option! This escape room experience forces you to choose between two options: become a spy to discover a stolen painting or become a prisoner determined to break out of jail.

As you probably know, one of the best rainy day activities in NYC is to visit museums as already mentioned earlier, but one unique opportunity is to take a guided tour of the MOMA. This guided tour will allow you to learn more about the iconic landmark, famous art pieces, and Central Park.


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