I can’t even count the number of times I’ve found myself without an umbrella in New York City.

Sure, you can always buy an umbrella for $20 off a random vendor on the street, but let’s be real—most of the time you never see them when you’re really in need.

Instead, you’ll end up totally drenched, typically running really late since transportation quickly becomes unreliable anytime there’s precipitation. 

I’ll never forget the time I got stuck underground, then had to run fifteen blocks in a torrential downpour to make it to the theater before the show began.

I took my seat just as the lights were going down.

According to my friend, I looked like someone who had gone swimming in their clothes before coming to see a Broadway play—he couldn’t quit laughing.

Even at intermission my clothes were still totally soaked, as was my seat!

Trust me, this is one place where you’ll absolutely want to have an umbrella in your purse anytime the weather channel says rain is a possibility.

You’ll also want to have a solid string of indoor pastimes to keep you busy and dry.

So, when you know wet weather is on the horizon, check out one of my favorite rainy day activities in NYC. I’ve listed them all out below, so now all you have to do is grab an umbrella, pick your favorite, and brave the rain.  

Best Rainy Day Activities in NYC

1. Hit Up a Food Hall

New York has a pretty solid offering of food halls these days. 

If you didn’t already know, a food hall is basically a giant center with a bunch of different food stalls to choose from.

One of my favorite things to do with friends is to pick a hall and then spend the afternoon sampling all the delicious booths.

These are some of my go-to food markets in the city:

2. Amuse Yourself at a Museum


I bet if you added up all the museums in NYC, you’d easily count over 50. 

The city seriously has no shortage of museums. So just pick one you’ve never been to and spend the rainy afternoon exploring. 

These are some of my favorites to visit:

3. See a Broadway Show


If you know me well, you know going to the theater is one of my favorite things to do in the city.

I’ve easily seen over 500 performances since moving to New York.

There were some weeks where I’d see three or four shows a week thanks to work (I used to work for a theatrical company). 

There is truly nothing better than being transported to a new place for a few hours—especially when the weather outside isn’t appealing. 

If you need recommendations, shoot me an e-mail. I’m always thrilled when I get the chance to talk theater!

4. Catch a Concert

Okay, so obviously snagging concert tickets at the last minute can be tricky, especially if it’s a popular artist.

You can either bite the bullet and buy the expensive tickets, or try chilling near the venue and waiting to see if prices drop minutes before the concert starts—I’ve been lucky using this strategy in the past.

Or you could just opt to check out a show at one of the city’s many low key music venues.

They have better last minute availability, and occasionally you’ll luck out and see the next superstar performing before they hit it big.

When I want to catch a last-minute concert, these are the venues I always check first:

5. Go Shopping


Shopping is one of my favorite ways to pass time in New York

Since the city is basically one of the major fashion capitals of the world, there’s no shortage in original vintage and designer duds. 

If you’re looking to score a major deal, check out 260 Sample Sale.

They have three locations and a rotating list of discount designer goods.

I’m low key obsessed with hitting up their sales.

I’ve gotten so many amazing never produced pieces, including the feather dress I’m wearing here.

If you want to spend the afternoon in a department store, head to either Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Saks, or Bergdorf’s for the best in fashion.

For a day of vintage shopping, hit up some places on my list of best vintage stores around the city.

6. Visit Grand Central Station


Everyone should check out the starry ceiling of Grand Central Station at least once. 

Besides the epic ceiling, the station itself is truly a work of art that’s worth admiring.

The Beaux-Arts detailing, vaulted ceilings, gorgeous light fixtures, and whispering wall are all truly must-see for anyone who admires architecture. 

After you’re done checking out the scenery, you can either hop on a train to another location, or grab a bite to eat at their famous oyster bar

7. Take the NBC Studio Tour

This was the very first thing my mom and I did on our first visit to NYC—mainly because it was too cold outside to walk around. 

The NBC Studio Tour is a must for anyone who wants to learn about the network’s history. 

You’ll get to check out the world-famous studio 8H where SNL films, plus the studio Jimmy Fallon tapes in, and see behind the scenes where they film the nightly news. 

Local’s Tip: If you want to score tickets to a taping, check out this guide on how to apply early for your chance to win tickets.

You’ll want to apply well ahead of your visit to the city for most tapings.

8. Go Bowling

If you’re traveling with a group, or have friends in the city to hang out with, bowling is a great rainy day activity. 

The city has some pretty cool bowling lanes around, including some of these favorites:

9. Belt Out a Tune at Karaoke


Since I’m afraid of singing in front of people, I typically only think karaoke is a good idea after way too many drinks.

Until then, I prefer to be a spectator. 

If you’re one of those people that don’t require a bit of liquid courage, karaoke is a solid way to pass a rainy afternoon or evening. 

If you’re like me and need a few drinks first, don’t worry, these places have them available:

10. Take a Cooking Class

NYC has some of the best dining in the United States, so the cooking classes are also top-notch.

The next time you’re in New York and looking for a yummy way to keep dry check into booking one of these popular classes:

11. Go Rock Climbing

If you want to get in a fun workout while you wait out the rainy weather, head to a rock climbing gym. 

It’s such a fun activity that it almost doesn’t even feel like you’re exercising. 

If you’re up for working every muscle in your body, hit up one of these climbing spots:

12. Check Out The New York Public Library

Sex and the City fans will recognize the NYPL as the location of Carrie’s ‘almost’ wedding.

The interior of this place is seriously stunning. Plus, they have a ton of wonderful books to peruse. 

They offer free daily tours, so step inside to relax out of the dreary weather.

13. Hang in a Bookshop

Speaking of books, if you’re wanting to chill somewhere a bit more low key than the public library, head to one of the city’s adorable bookshops.

My all-time favorite one to hang out in is The Drama Bookshop.

They only sell scripts, biographies, and books relating to theater. 

They just opened in their new location, and is now partly owned by Hamilton’s Lin Manuel Miranda, who stepped in to save this NY institution shortly before they were due to shut down thanks to rent hikes. 

If you want to browse a bookshop that isn’t focused on theater, check out one of these shops:

14. Chill at Chelsea Piers

Chelsea Piers is the ultimate destination for fun activities in the city.

They’ve got an indoor ice skating rink, driving range, batting cages, and gymnasium with adult gymnastics classes available. 

I’m a big fan of meeting friends here for a day of fun at either the skating rink or driving range. 

If the weather clears up, the walkway along Chelsea Piers runs along the Hudson River. It’s a beautiful place to walk or ride bikes.

15. Catch a Movie

One of my favorite rainy day activities in any city is to hit up the local movie theater. 

Since NYC is a major cultural hub, it should come as no surprise that it offers some of the best cinemas around. 

These are some of my favorite spots to catch the latest flick:

16. Play Games at a Bar

Does anyone else get super competitive after a few drinks?

I know I do, especially when the other people in my party get really into the game.

If you want to pass a few hours grabbing drinks and embracing a bit of competition, head to one of these popular bars that offer games:


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17. Go to Brunch

I’ve been to a lot of brunches over the years in multiple cities, but NYC certainly puts on the best one.

If you want to pass the rainy day eating, drinking, and enjoying life, head to one of my favorite brunch spots:

18. Hit Up the Symphony

If you’re looking for a delightful way to spend a rainy evening, consider attending the symphony.

The NY Philharmonic is truly out of this world. While I was living in the city, I attempted to go at least once a year.

If you’ve never been to the symphony before, this is the perfect city to book your first ever show in.

19. Check Out The Paley Center

The Paley Center for Media is essentially a museum featuring things from radio and television.

Normally they’ll have at least one special exhibit having to do with TV.

Recently they had an epic one featuring all the costumes from the NYC-based TV show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Besides the special exhibit, they also have a virtual reality area downstairs, video games you can play, and a massive video library of old TV shows and movies.

20. Take a Tour of Radio City

Radio City Music Hall is an art deco theater in midtown with quite a reputation thanks to the high kicking Rockettes.

If you want to take a peek behind the curtain, sign up for their 75-minute tour of the venue. 

You’ll get to hear the fascinating tale of the theater’s history, check out the secret Roxy Suite, and even get a meet and greet with a Rockette!

21. Splurge on an Indulgent Meal

beatrice inn dinner table nyc

Since NYC is famous for its food scene, it only makes sense that you’d indulge in a fabulous meal at one of the best restaurants in the city.

These are the places that I enjoy going to anytime I want to treat myself to an extra special dinner:

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22. Plan a Spa Day

Anyone who knows me well knows I adore a good spa day, especially one that involves a massage. 

Spa days really are the perfect escape from reality and foul weather.

Schedule a little R&R at one of these spots:

23. Find an Escape Room

When trying to find indoor plans for a group, escape rooms are a simple choice.

You’ll all bond while figuring out clues to escape whatever scenario they have placed you in. It’s a fun way to pass an hour while you wait out the rain. 

These are some of the most popular escape rooms in the city:

24. Head to a Painting Lounge

For a more low-key activity without a countdown clock, hit up Painting Lounge.

Painting is super therapeutic, plus you’ll end up with a cool souvenir to take home.

The best part is that they have a few different locations around the city, making it super convenient as a last-minute plan.

Local’s Tip: My favorite is the BYOB paint and sip class. Keep an eye out for it on the schedule, it’s a ton of fun!

25. Go to Trivia Night

Trivia nights, especially ones with free drinks or shots as prizes, are a ton of fun.

The next time you’re in town wanting to do something amusing and educational, look into the trivia night schedule at one of these bars:

26. Hang at a Cat Cafe

Anyone else a sucker for a cute little kitten or cat?

Thanks to the recent trend in cat cafes, you can get your caffeine fix along while spending time with adorable (and sometimes) cuddly little furballs. 

These are the cat cafes that you need to hit up:

27. Chill at a Sports Game


Okay, so full disclosure: I’ve never actually been to a sports game in the city.

I hear they can be pretty fun, especially if you’re into sports.

If that’s your thing check out MSG and Barclay Center to see if any basketball or hockey games are happening while you’re in town.

Apparently NYC has pretty solid teams for both sports!

28. Have Afternoon Tea


If you’re feeling like a sophisticated afternoon avoiding the dreary rain, schedule an afternoon tea session.

You’ll sip tea or champagne, eat delicious petite sandwiches, and snack on delicious cakes and cookies.

Honestly, what could be better?

Just head to one of these spots to make it a reality: 

  • Alice’s Tea Cup
  • BG Restaurant
  • The Whitby Hotel
  • Laduree Cafe

29. Sign Up for a Fitness Class

NYC has some seriously unique fitness classes.

They have everything from circus arts to underwater spinning, belly dancing, and indoor surfing. 

If you’re up to the challenge, these are some of the coolest fitness classes in town:

30. Catch a Comedy Show


Add a bit of humor to the rainy night by catching a comedy show.

New York is home to some of the best comedians around, so you’ll likely catch at least one or two wonderful acts and maybe even a celeb if you’re lucky. 

Catch a show at one of these comedy hotspots:

31. Hide in a Speakeasy


Escape the rain by taking shelter in one of New York’s “secret” speakeasies.

You’ll enjoy fantastic cocktails, cool interiors, and the excitement of finding one of these hidden gems:

32. Enjoy the Opera

A night at the opera is something I treat myself to about once a year.

I always make a big night out of it and take myself to a big dinner before the performance. 

If you haven’t been to the New York City Opera, just know that you’re in for a real treat.

They have two giant Chagalls in the lobby and the chandelier in the theater is seriously stunning!

Don’t stress thinking you won’t understand anything, they have subtitles that display on the seatback in front of you.

33. Hang at the Oculus

Besides being a great place to take photos, the Oculus is a prime spot for some indoor shopping.

They have plenty of shops to choose from, including favorites like Reiss, & Other Stories, and Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman.

It’s also home to 12 different subway lines, so if you plan your journey there correctly you won’t even have to go outside.

34. Go to One World Observatory


While you’re downtown shopping, grab a ticket to head to the top of One World Observatory

The entire experience is incredibly unique and moving. Plus the views are out of this world, especially at sunset.

I always plan my visit so that I arrive just as the sun is setting, that way I get to see the sky change colors, and I get to see the skyline of the city light up as darkness takes over. 

35. Grab a Rooftop Drink

I know some of you are thinking “seriously a rooftop bar on a rainy day?”.

New York bars are super innovative, most rooftop bars have indoor areas so that you can still enjoy the view and a drink even when the weather isn’t ideal.

These are some of my favorite indoor rooftop bars:

36. Indulge in All the Desserts

I’m a major dessert girl, so any excuse to indulge in something sweet is okay with me.

Use the awful weather as an excuse to conduct your own sweet taste testing tour through the city.

These are the places that you shouldn’t pass up:

37. Catch a Jazz Show

Jazz Player NYC

New York is one of the best cities in the world for catching a jazz show.

This one really shouldn’t take any convincing, just head to one of these venues:

38. Tour Brooklyn Brewery

Who wouldn’t want to spend the afternoon tasting beers? 

Brooklyn Brewery tours cover the brewing process, beer history, and their story.

Plus, you obviously get to sample all their delicious beers on tap. 

This will be one afternoon where you don’t mind the rainy weather. 

Fun Fact: They distribute their beer in over 30 different countries, including most of the United States.

39. See an Off-Broadway Show

the public theater off broadway 2

If you want a unique theatrical experience, head to an Off-Broadway show. 

You may even get lucky and end up seeing the next big Broadway hit before it makes its debut on the Great White Way (shows like Hamilton and Rent started Off-Broadway). 

These are my favorite Off-Broadway theaters:

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40. People Watch From a Cafe

Irving Farm Coffee Store Front

One of my favorite ways to pass extra time is to settle into a cafe and watch as the world goes by.

New York City seriously has some of the best people-watching ever.

Over the years I’ve seen everything from crazy street breakups to awkward first dates, and even an engagement.

I can’t guarantee you’ll see one of those things happen, but I can guarantee you’ll see some interesting people passing by. 

These are my favorite cafes to people watch from:

41. Indulge in Comfort Food

Anyone else crave delicious comfort food when the weather outside is dreary?

I know I do!

Typically, in true New Yorker fashion, I’d just order some of my favorite food to my apartment and hole up for the day. The extra snuggle time always thrilled my cat, Zoey.

But since most of you are probably in the city for a short time, I suggest you venture out of those hotel rooms and into one of these cozy restaurants for some comfort food:

42. Attend the Ballet

Another bad weather activity that’s sure to entertain you for a few hours is catching a show at the New York City Ballet.

I always take myself for Valentine’s Day.

It’s a super dreamy experience even if you’re going solo, but bonus points to you if you can get a date to join the fun. 

It’s a cool theater that offers lots of art in their lobby and an excellent little terrace to drink champagne on if the weather is agreeable during intermission. 

My favorite thing to do is to grab dinner and drinks nearby at Cafe Fiorello, then head into the ballet.

You’ll be dancing on cloud nine by the time it’s over.

43. Drink at a Historic Bar

pub london

Why drink at a normal bar when you could drink at a historical one?

NYC has quite a few older bars still in operation.

You’ll absolutely want to hit up Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington downed a few pints.

Also, check out McSorely’s Old Ale House. They still have a pair of Houdini’s handcuffs attached to their bar!

White Horse Tavern is also a popular choice amongst the musical and literary history buffs.

Famous imbibers include Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison. 

44. Check Out 92Y

Okay, so typically catching a panel at the 92Y involves a bit of planning, though depending on who the guest is you may get lucky and score a last-minute seat.

Past panel guests have included RBG, the cast of Schitt’s Creek, Amy Poehler, Kurt Vonnegut, Bill Gates, and Paul McCartney. 

Even if you can’t score a ticket, I can guarantee you’ll easily spend a few hours listening to these epic interviews on their YouTube channel

45. Check Out The Summit

You’ll absolutely by dying to take photos of the skyline, especially if you go The Summit at sunset.

My favorite part (besides how pretty it is), is that they’re home to Danny Meyer’s latest bar/cafe called APRÈS.

Go grab a drink and snack and enjoy the view while the rest of the city is rushing around below in the rain.

46. Head to a “Secret” Concert

Sofar Sounds throws such secret concerts, that even most of my local friends haven’t heard of them.

Basically, you pick which neighborhood you want to go to, then 24 hours before the show, they’ll e-mail you the address.

Then you just show up at the address and enjoy three amazing performances.

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FAQ’s About Planning a Rainy Day in NYC

What’s the Best Free Things to Do on a Rainy Day in New York City?


One of my favorite free things to do when it rains in New York is to grab and an umbrella and take a nice long walk around the city, stopping to check out architecture like famous Grand Central Station.

What are the Best Indoor Activities for Couples?

rainy day nyc

One of my favorite date activities on a rainy NYC day is to catch a show.

Between all the Broadway, Off-Broadway, jazz, ballet, opera, drag, and improv shows, there’s always something perfect for any couple.

You can pre-game the show with dinner drinks somewhere cozy, then grab a nightcap at charming wine bar or candlelit lounge afterwards.

What are the Best Rainy Day Restaurants in NYC?

best rainy day restaraunt nyc

My friends and I really love hanging out in cozy bars, lounges, and restaurants when it rains in NYC.

Or if it’s a more mild rain, a spot with ambience that has great people watching.

These are some of the spots we always end up:

Final Thoughts

rainy day activities nyc 2 1

New York City is exciting in any weather, though it’s obviously best when it isn’t down-pouring out. 

Since nobody has control over the weather, I hope you embrace these rainy day activities and enjoy the city despite the less than ideal weather. 

Who knows, the rain may push you to discover a part of the city you would have never experienced.

Let me know in the comments below what your favorite rainy day activity in NYC is!


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