You planned out your vacation so carefully. You were going to head to Central Park all morning before taking a trip to the Statue of Liberty in the afternoon. Then you woke up, opened the curtains, and discovered a downpour. Rain in New York City can throw a wrench in even the best laid plans. Since the city revolves so much around walking everywhere, and since many of its biggest tourist attractions are outdoors, a rainy day can easily turn into a day wasted in your hotel room unless you make an effort to find something else to do. Luckily, New York is also filled with great attractions and activities that aren’t affected at all by a drenching storm. Here are a few ideas for things you can do in NYC when it rains.
1. Visit a museum – New York City is filled with museums. Whether you are interested in science, art, history, or any of a variety of other topics, you will likely be able to find a museum that will fascinate you for hours. If the rain forces you to spend the entire day inside, plan on going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) or the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Both of these enormous buildings literally have miles of exhibits to walk through, and you will likely only scratch the surface of their contents even if you spend the whole day there. From dinosaurs to astronomy to ocean life, you can find something at the AMNH to interest any visitor. Similarly, The Met features huge galleries of paintings, enormous sculpture gardens, and even displays of medieval suits of armor and ancient Egyptian tombs.
2. Walk around Chelsea Market – Of all the places to loiter in Manhattan, it is very easy to spend a day perusing Chelsea Market. Take a veritable culinary tour around the world by sampling cuisine from all different cultures. Pick up a bottle of fine wine and then go across the way to the cheese shop and ask the proprietors what to pair it with. Next, you can go shopping at one of the clothing boutiques, the bookstore, or the any of the other specialty shops. The best part is that all of these stores are connected via an indoor walkway, so once you set foot inside, you will be able to stay out of the rain for hours without getting bored.
3. Shop at one of the world’s biggest stores – If you are a fan of shopping and want to find your mecca, look no further than one of the two giant department stores in the heart of the city. Head to Macy’s in Herald Square, and you can enjoy browsing through the world’s largest store. Occupying a full square block and nine stories, the retailer is filled with history. If you prefer a higher-end shopping experience, go to Bloomingdales at 59th St and Lexington Ave. Shop around this enormous department store for a few hours, and you can join the thousands of others on the street carrying around the signature brown bags.
4. See a Broadway show – You will have to make note of what day of the week it is if you want to catch a show during your rainy day. Most Broadways shows offer matinee performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and you can get discounted tickets for many plays and musicals either online or at the TKTS booth in Times Square. What better way is there to forget the gloom outside than to spend a few hours getting lost in the magic and spectacle of a great piece of theater? Of course, even if you can’t get to a matinee, seeing an evening show is a fantastic way to spend a rainy night.
5. Find a good book – It’s a time-honored tradition to hunker down with a good book when it rains, but this doesn’t have to be a boring activity when you’re in NYC. Finding your next great book can be as exciting as reading it. Head to the beautiful New York City Public Library in Midtown, and you can spend hours perusing the remarkable collection. Even if you don’t find anything to read, you will still be awed by the architecture. If you are more in the mood to buy a book, go to The Strand in Greenwich Village. This used bookstore boasts that it contains “over 18 miles of books” so you will definitely be able to find one that interests you.
6. Go outside – Of course, it will depend on how hard it’s raining as well as any other dangerous factors like thunder and lightning, but sometimes the city can be a beautiful place to explore in the rain. Pick up a sturdy umbrella at a nearby drugstore and just make the most of your day despite the weather. Head to Central Park or a similar location and enjoy the tranquility that the rain brings. You certainly won’t be the only one. After all, the city that never sleeps doesn’t shut down every time there’s a little downpour.
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