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Things To Do When It Rains In NYC

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You’ve arrived in NYC with your itinerary in hand. Everything is planned down to the minute.

You leave your hotel excited to explore New York City and…you feel a raindrop. 

Don’t let the rain get you down. New York City is a great place to be when the weather limits your outdoor activities!

rain in NYC

There are so many things to do in NYC when it rains, you could spend most of your trip inside if you had to! 

If you need to know what to do on a rainy day in NYC, here are our top 13 picks.


1. Visit A Museum

Of course, this is the first indoor activity that comes to mind. You likely had a museum or two on your list of things to do already! 

Just juggle your daily itinerary a bit and you’ll have a great day despite the rain in NYC.

Sculpture garden at the metropolitan museum of art

Here are just a few of the top museums to visit:

If you are concerned that you may run up a big tab with too many museum tickets, there are several options to save money on admission.

See our post on free museums and museums that offer free admission on certain days and times. 

Also, admission to many of the top museums is included in NYC Tourist Discount Passes


2. Take A Bus Tour

This is one of the best rainy day activities in NYC! You can do a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tour fully guided, themed and night tours. 

New York City Bus Tour

Check our post on New York Bus Tours to find out about the different types of tours you can take.

TIP: Many of the bus tours mentioned below are included in one form or another with the New York tourist passes.


3. See A Live TV Show Taping

Get out of the rain and into a seat for some great live entertainment like The Tonight Show or The View

Some of the best daytime and late-night shows tape in New York and you can be part of the studio audience.

The Tonight Show tickets

While some shows require ticket requests in advance, lots of shows have standby tickets. It can't hurt to try, right?

See our post on TV Show Tapings in NYC.


4. Go To The Statue Of Liberty and Ellis Island 

Don't let the rain scare you away from Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Ferries run rain or shine!  

You will see Lady Liberty up close and you can visit the Statue of Liberty Museum. 

Your ticket also includes a trip to Ellis Island and the National Museum of Immigration which for some is a more interesting part of the two-island trip.

Delve into the history of America’s great melting pot and look up your family roots!

Read more about visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

TIP: Follow up with a visit to the Tenement Museum and see how immigrants from the early 1900s lived.


5. Tour Grand Central Terminal

Touring the majestic Grand Central Terminal is just the thing you need to brighten up your rainy day in NYC!

Its expansive ceiling depicting the constellations of the zodiac and dazzling chandeliers will lift any rainy day blues. 

Grand Central Station

Head downstairs to the food court for delicious comfort food!

There are lots of tours offered and many of them are free to take. Find out more about Grand Central Terminal.


6. Take A Free Walking Tour

Our pay-what-you-wish walking tours run rain or shine! 

We offer guided tours of many different neighborhoods as well as food tours and seasonal holiday tours

New York Walking Tours

We run these tours on a daily (or almost daily) basis:

Our popular food tours include a Greenwich Village Food Tour and a Lower East Side Food Tour.

Find out about all our tour offerings here.


7. Check Out The New York City Public Library

Walk inside and you can already feel the warmth of leather-bound books filling grand oak bookcases inside this historic library housed in a gorgeous Beaux-arts building.

NY Public Library

The library offers free tours well worth taking. Save some time to explore on your own and see the Rotunda’s dark walnut paneling and vaulted ceiling murals. 

Find out about the New York City Public Library and come in from the rain!


8. Tour Radio City Music Hall 

Take a tour of this lush, art-deco theater known for its leggy dance troupe, The Rockettes.

Radio City Music Hall Tour

On your 75-minute tour of Radio City Music Hall, you will get a behind-the-scenes peek at the Great Stage and more. You will even meet a Rockette.

Find out about discounts on tickets here.


9. Take The NBC Studio Tour 

While we are on the topic of TV, see where the magic is made on a studio tour at NBC in Rockefeller Center. Find out more about NBC Studios Tours

NBC Studios

Note that due to the pandemic, tours ceased operating but that could change at any time. It’s worth seeing if tours have resumed when you are here and stuck in the rain.


10. See A Broadway Show 

This may have been on your list of things to do already, but a rainy night in NYC makes the theater all that more appealing!

Some shows have matinees so head in for some musical fun on a rainy afternoon. Maybe “Singin’ in the Rain” will be in town.

You can save a lot on tickets if you know how. Read our post on how to get discount Broadway tickets


11. Go Shopping

The shopping here is fabulous and it’s a good excuse to get out of the rain! 

You can go store to store along 5th Avenue, or for the ultimate experience in dryness, visit some of the shopping malls in Manhattan.

In Lower Manhattan, check out the Oculus, a space-age-inspired structure filled with shopping and dining. 

Oculus

The Oculus is located adjacent to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial so combine your time shopping, then seeing the museum.

Near the High Line Park, there is the Chelsea Market. About 12 blocks north is the mall at Hudson Yards where the skyscraper Edge and its observatory deck are located.

If you want to spend a day shopping for deep discounts, head to the Woodbury Commons Outlet an hour outside of New York City.


12. Take a Hot Tub Boat Tour

Climb aboard a 40’ yacht fitted with two jacuzzis covered by a canopy! Relax in the warm water in your hot tub while seeing the skyline from the water.

Come with friends or just two of you to experience this unique NYC activity -- rain or shine!

Find out more here.


13. Visit the United Nations  

Unlike visiting museums or tourist attractions, visiting the United Nations can only be done in New York City. 

There’s simply nothing like it anywhere in the world. See where some of the most important decisions affecting the entire world are made.

United Nations

The UN tours are very informative and engaging. If you are traveling with children they have a special kids tour that is interactive.

Read all the details on how to reserve tickets to visit the United Nations and what you can expect to see on your visit here.


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About The Author

Courtney

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: October 6th, 2022
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