6 Things To Do in NYC on a Rainy Day

TopicToday, we will talk about 6 things to do in NYC on a rainy day.

You saved your money, carefully planned your vacation… and it’s pouring! No worries, there are tons of things that you can easily do in NYC on a rainy day.

I know it may seem impossible. From the window of your hotel room what you see is only fog. Fog wherever you turn. You can’t even see across the street. Your mood is close to zero. There’s fog even inside your brain! Not to talk about the rain…

No need to worry. You’re in New York City, the most amazing City in the whole world. And because of this there are tons of things you can do in NYC on a rainy day.

Let’s start!

Things To Do in NYC on a Rainy Day

Have you thought of all the things to do in NYC on a rainy day?

There are so many things you can do here in New York when it rains. For the sake of simplicity, I will regroup them under three categories

  • awesome experiences
  • food
  • shopping

Some of them can be enjoyed in the same place. Most of them are within walking distance, so you don’t need to worry about getting wet.

What To Wear in New York on a Rainy Day

The general myth is that New York is extremely cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer. While this is more or less true, there are a few things that must be taken into due consideration.

The first thing to know is that the real enemy in this city is the wind. In the winter, the wind can really cut your ears. And even in the summer it can be pretty bad. You could be cold even if the barometer says otherwise.

On a rainy day, the New York City wind can really make you soaking wet. This must be avoided at any cost. In the winter because of the temperature. In the summer because of air conditioning.

So, the first thing you have to do is: protect yourself from the wind. The ideal thing is wearing a jacket that screens you and lets your skin breathe, otherwise you may really be uncomfortable.

Don’t forget to wear a hat. It’s better than a cap, it will cover your ears as well, which is very important in the winter.

Umbrella! What Will Save You on a Rainy Day

Forget about style and being cool and get an umbrella! And if you haven’t got one, you’d better buy one. Stay away from the $5 ones people sell on the street. Go to a pharmacy like Walgreens and buy a golf umbrella. They are almost everywhere.

This is the one I use. But keep in mind what follows.

What type of umbrella are you looking for? You need something that really covers your head and your upper body. The ideal thing is one umbrella per person. If you can’t/won’t, buy an even bigger one. They easily fit inside a backpack and have a cover, so your belongings are safe.

Remember this- your umbrella must cover you! You’re not looking for something that will be good for a stamped envelope. After all, your umbrella is your most important assets when it comes to things to do in NYC on a rainy day.

Last but not least, the bigger the umbrella, the more resistant to the wind it is. For this reason, always look for a wind resistant one or, even better, one that lets the wind pass through (most of the time they are known as golf umbrellas).

Awesome Experiences in NYC on a Rainy Day.

1- Spend the day at the Metropolitan Museum. Here’s Why (You Will End Up Wishing It Rained…)

My favorite thing to do in NYC on a rainy day: enjoying the Met

Rain shouldn’t stop you anywhere. Especially in New York. My number one experience in New York on a rainy day is definitely the Metropolitan Museum

Not only is the museum a great place for art and beauty. It is also a fantastic building located in the most beautiful part of Manhattan, the very heart of Central Park. Things like the Temple of Dendur are really outstanding. Standing next to history inside a huge room full of light can really make your day. Do you remember Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally?

You can find all the art you are looking for, as well as temporary exhibitions. Paintings, sculptures, photography, ancient and modern art, religious items, rugs, an entire house filled with the typical American furniture… you name it. I remember an exhibit with the most famous instruments in rock history, included my favorite, Eric Clapton’s Blackie, the legendary Stratocaster that was his own trademark for almost two decades. 

things to do in NYC on a rainy day
Eric Clapton’s famous Blackie

You would never imagine to find an electric guitar next to an Egyptian sarcophagus or one of Botticelli’s finest works. But that’s what the Met is all about! If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask what you’re looking for, the staff is very nice and competent.

Many people object the Met is too big and it takes forever to view even one third of it. Well, that’s what a rainy day is for, isn’t it? 

At the Met, you can enjoy a nice cafeteria on the balcony, a cantina in the basement and, if you are a member, you can also have lunch in the very beautiful Balcony Lounge, a membership-only space where you can hang around, read your newspaper, have some coffee or your favorite drink, and dine. Last but not least, they have a good range of gluten free dishes. If you, like me, suffer from this disease, always remember if they have something for you outside of the normal menu.

I love spending time at the Balcony Lounge. When I write or work on my next video, I always go there. So if you happen to be there, make sure you stop to say hello!

And there’s more! The Met Store is an endless source of great inspiration. Not only it features art books, but also a great collection of jewels, clothing, teacups and so much more. All my coffee and tea cups come from there. Shopping is great there!

So, now you understand why, of all the things to do in NYC on a rainy day, this is by far my favorite and the first one I absolutely recommend.

2- Have a Bite of Real New York Life at Grand Central

No matter how you call it, Grand Central Station or Grand Central Terminal (which is its real name) is one of the most genuine New York experiences. And therefore something you must absolutely do in New York. On rainy day, its value will tenfold.

With more than half a million people passing through each and every day, you can hardly find any other place able to give you a real idea of what living and working in New York is like. Tourist looking for the staircase where the famous scene from The Untouchables was filmed (if they only knew the scene was filmed in Chicago….,) or the famous scene in Madagascar, not to talk about that timeless Hal Morey’s picture, Grand Central is indeed a terminal. 

After taking a look at the enormous hall (take all the time you need, it’s pouring outside!) and the nearby hallways, as well as the magnificent chandeliers, I suggest you pay a visit to the Transit Museum. With its temporary exhibition as well as the residing items, it is an interesting glimpse into the story of this city from the point of view of its people in one of the most important parts of their days-moving around.

Talking about shopping, how can you beat Grand Central? You have everything! From Tiffany’s to food, there’s hardly something you won’t be able to find here. At times you may wish it kept raining forever!

Last but not least, reaching Grand Central is easy… and dry. Think about all the subway lines stopping there, as well as the shuttle linking it to the very well served Times Square.

Are you still thinking a rainy day in NYC is a wasted day?

All the food You Can Eat… and More

3- Chelsea Market

Photo by Beyond My Ken

Ok, I know what you’re thinking-that was easy. So what?

Chelsea Market is the living proof that what half the world says (there’s no good food in America) is pure BS!

This former Nabisco factory, now belonging to Google, offers an unparalleled choice of food of every type and from everywhere. If you can bear with the packed environment, people going to and fro, talking, shouting, laughing and every language being spoken, and you focus on the colors, the smells and happiness (or simply hunger) on people’s faces, well, you’ve found a corner of heaven in the most chaotic city of all!

And the food…. My gosh, the food!

In the basement you can find a great choice of cheeses, cold cuts and Italian imported goods. On the first floor, many restaurants will be able to satisfy many (if not all) your sophisticated palates. From pizza to Thai, passing from hamburger to a French bistro and a fresh fish joint, can you really ask for more? You can also stop in the afternoon, have a beer or your favorite drink.

Last but not least, in Chelsea Market you can find very interesting shops, from Artist & Fleas, Chelsea Music Hall, and more. And if you care about your looks, if you’re a man don’t forget to stop at Fellow Barber. And for the ladies, Anthropologie is always a good idea!

Another notch for the best NYC activities on a rainy day.

4- Essex Market

a view of the Lower East Side

Who said the Lower East Side is all about Chinatown, history of immigration and the Coyote Ugly?

For over 100 years, the (originally named) Essex Street Market has been a referring point for the whole LES community. Once a par of the City Department of Markets, along with other famous ones such as the Arthur Avenue retail in The Bronx, today this iconic place is experiencing a new phase in its glorious history.

With an eye on the local community and the less fortunate ones (most vendors accept EBTs,) its nonprofit galleries, fair trade items and a space for the female side of entrepreneurship, this place is much more than a stop for a refreshing bite, a nice beer or a good lunch break between Wall Street and Union Square.

Very much a place for locals, far away of the tourist beaten path, the Essex Market is the great choice if the rains catches you in the lower side of Manhattan and you want to take advantage of the not-so-great weather to discover how New York is still New York and how it became New York.

Combining excellent food with niche shopping and some good art is a winner at Essex Market. If not among the top 3, it is surely one of the fun things to do in NYC on a rainy day.

The Temples of Local Shopping

There is a specific reason why we did not include Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Bergdorf & Goodman in this list. Although they are some of the most beautiful department stores in the whole world, they focus more on the shopping side. Those we chose below also offer food and entertainment options, which we think are an added value, especially when we things of the things to do in NYC on a rainy day.

5- Brookfield Place

The Winter Garden at Brookfield Place

Very well known but too often mistaken for the World Trade Center, Brookfield Place is actually a separate place, something that developed in the last 25 years.

Located in Battery Park City, right across the street from the WTC, in a landfill that originates mostly from the excavation for the Twin Towers, Brookfield Place is the quintessence of luxury in Downtown Manhattan.

Shops are very selected and, mostly important, there is everything. Women’s and, men’s apparel, kids, electronics and tech, beauty and accessories… the choice is immense. And if your husband complains about you jumping from one shop to another, he can find something for him, too. Not only that. While there, you can have a sample of the New York city yacht life at the North Cove Marina, with a great view of both ellis Island and the statue of Liberty. You can also enjoy the skating rink in the winter.

As if it wasn’t enough, you can surely enjoy some of the live shows that take place there, mostly in the winter garden overlooking the Marina and the Hudson.

Up above the winter garden, on the second floor, you can also enjoy Hudson Eats which, as the word itself suggests, is a fantastic gallery of restaurants and places where you can experience very good food.

But the great thing about Brookfield Place is that it is a real secret passage to many other venues in Downtown Manhattan, which is particularly favorable on a rainy day in New York. From the winter garden you can easily reach the World Trade Center PATH station, as well as the Oculus, via a very beautiful internal underground passage. You can also walk indoor all the way to the St. Nicholas National Shrine and the green area of Liberty Park, watching the whole Memorial area from high above, away from the crowd and with a much broader view.

6- Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle

You wanted to take a walk in Central Park but the rain caught you? Fortunately for you, there is a great indoor space you can fully take advantage of. Step inside the Time Warner Center, where you can eat, shop and, if you like jazz, stay there until late at night.

Located on the South-West end of Central Park, the Time Warner Center is home of Whole Foods Market, Jazz at Lincoln Center and a lot of interesting flagship stores, including Cole Haan, Williams Sonoma, Boss, Amazon, Papyrus and more. 

It stands where the old New York Coliseum used to be. The old convention center was demolished in 2000 and the new center is now one of the favorite places for shopping and social hangout in New York.

What I love doing there is grocery shopping at Whole Foods and browse for books at the Amazon shop. I am also a big Cole Haan fan, so I often check for new arrivals and bought quite some shoes there. Last but not least, it is a five-minute walk from where I live!

If you are visiting, nothing is better than buying your lunch at Whole Foods market in the basement of the complex and eat it there. There are plenty of tables so you will always have a seta to eat and a shelter from the rain.

If you like art, you will also enjoy the beautiful Botero statues there. Last but certainly not least, the Jazz at Lincoln Center is a must if you love great music. 

And where the rain has stopped, you can step outside, cross the street and you’re in Central Park!

Final Thoughts on the Things To Do in NYC on a Rainy Day

As I said before, the rain should never stop you. And this applies to New York as well. Despite how great it is to walk around the City, Brooklyn, Queens and the other boroughs, New York never fails you, not even on a rainy day.

Whether it is the Metropolitan Museum, Grand Central, Chelsea Market, Essex Market, Brookfield Place or Time Warner Center, you now have many opportunities to take advantage of your time in New York. And don’t forget to take a look at our other posts about sightseeing, history and life in New York City. and don’t forget to check our YouTube channel.

A rainy day in Nyc is never a wasted day. Just follow these tips and you will have a hell of a day.

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