Let’s face it –– New York loses an inch of its romance when the weather is crappy. I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer to hibernate when arctic air takes over Gotham, or a damp, rainy day headlines the forecast. Luckily, this city offers a host of indoor activities that can be almost as much fun as exploring the streets of Williamsburg, touring major sights, or decompressing in Central Park, all of which are more apropos when the sun is shining and the temperature exceeds 50 degrees. Since Mother Nature doesn’t fully cooperate 24/7, let’s take a look at things to do in New York on a rainy day.
Cultural institutions exist all throughout the city, but there’s no better place to spend time during a downpour than at the American Museum of Natural History. Get in touch with your inner scientist and astrologist when you browse permanent exhibitions such as the Hall of Dinosaurs, Hall of Primitive Mammals, and of course, the amazing Rose Center for Earth and Space. Plus, the museum shows exciting temporary and seasonal exhibits like the National Parks Adventure and the famed Butterfly Conservatory. Avoid the rain for hours because the museum is open from 10 a.m. until 5: 45 p.m. daily. Other museums nearby include the the New York Historical Society, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art straight across town.
See a matinee performance.
On a rainy weekend, offerings like Broadway, Off-Broadway, Carnegie Hall, BAM, the Joyce Theater, and Lincoln Center give both locals and visitors countless entertainment choices. Choose from classical ballet , opera, or live jazz – no matter which, you won’t regret staying inside. Should the foul weather continue through the evening hours, that’s a terrific reason to see another performance. Try TodayTix for last-minute tickets.
Spend time at Grand Central Terminal.
Commuters and tourists come and go every single day, but how many actually spend time shopping or even browsing the dozens of shops or eating in any of the establishments in Grand Central? I bet you didn’t know that Cafe Grumpy, Financier Patisserie, Shake Shack, the Apple Store, Swatch, Banana Republic, and Jo Malone have locations in the station. Plus, history buffs won’t want to miss the opportunity to take a tour of this iconic landmark.
Shop at the Strand Bookstore.
If you think you can’t peruse a bookstore for more than 30 minutes, I’d say you’ve never been to the Strand. Even if you’re not a bookworm, you’ll find it almost impossible to leave empty-handed after perusing its 18 miles of new, used, rare, and out-of-print titles. Hungry? Try Ribalta for pizza, since it’s only a few minutes away. More on food next.
Eat. A lot.
In case you don’t know me well enough by now, no matter the weather, food is always on my agenda. Brunch is the most popular meal on weekends, but some restaurants provide all-day menus, meaning you could go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or perhaps sometime in between.
Lupa in the South Village offers the same delicious Italian menu from open to close. For something more upscale, I recommend Gramercy Tavern. Depending on your budget and the vibe you prefer, you can eat lunch or dinner in either the restaurant or tavern, (the tavern is more casual and doesn’t accept reservations, so be prepared to wait). The NoMad is Daniel Humm’s chic restaurant in the hotel by the same name, and Lafayette is open all day and serves different menus –– they even have an in-between mid-day lineup if you happen to be hungry after lunch but before dinner.
No matter the forecast, be sure to pack an umbrella. Those afternoon showers can pop up at any moment.
Do you have any other ideas what to do in New York on a rainy day? Please share!