5 Unusual Things to Do on a Rainy Day in NYC

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New Yorkers often gripe about our humid summers and frigid winters, but we don’t tend to acknowledge that NYC is also a fairly rainy city. Sure, it’s not Hilo, Hawaii, the rainiest city in the US, but with an average of 47 inches of rain a year compared to the national average of 38 inches, you might want to keep some ideas for NYC rainy day activities in the back of your mind, especially during the warmer months.* 

*As a rule of thumb, NYC’s warmer months are its wetter months, with an average of eight to ten days per month being washouts from April through August. 

The tried and true NYC rainy day activity is to visit one of the city’s many, many, many museums. But if you’re not in the mood to go to a museum and you are looking for something off the (slightly damp) beaten path, one of these unusual things to do on a rainy day in NYC might pique your interest.

NYC Rainy Day Idea 1

If you’re in a sightseeing mood and you have a lot of time on your hands:
This is going to sound weird, but the next time it rains in NYC and you have nothing to do, hop on a bus and ride its whole route. Yes, a regular, schmegular MTA bus. You’ll be surprised at the things you observe about the city peering out at it from a raindrop-streaked bus window. Think of it as the city’s cheapest bus tour. Some of the city’s best MTA bus routes for “sightseeing” include Staten Island’s S78 route (NYC’s longest bus route), Manhattan’s M1 and M15 routes, and Brooklyn’s B63 and B67 routes.

NYC Rainy Day Idea 2

If you’re in the mood to do something active:
From board game cafes to indoor rock climbing, NYC has a proliferation fun indoor activities to keep your mind and body active on a rainy day. If you want a mental workout, spend the day playing board games at Hex & Co. and The Uncommons, or play video games at Barcade. If you prefer something more athletic, try shuffleboard at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, ax throwing at Kick Axe, rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, laser tag at Area 53, or take part in any other sport you can think of at Chelsea Piers.

NYC Rainy Day Idea 3

If you want to become one with nature but not get soaking wet: 
A rainy day in NYC is one of the best times to visit the greenhouses at one of the city’s botanical gardens. On a rainy day, you can take your time to explore these massive greenhouses without worrying about what you’re missing out on seeing outside. Plus, spending a day in a climate-controlled greenhouse with its varying environments from room to room almost feels like you’re traveling.

NYC Rainy Day Idea 4

If you want to embrace your inner bookworm:
Sure, you can go to a bookstore cafe to have a clichéd rainy day where you sip coffee while reading a paperback in front of a raindrop-smeared window (and please do! NYC’s independent bookstores need our support!), but you can have a similar day at one of NYC’s public libraries. Public libraries are some of the few places in NYC where you can sit and stay a while and not be expected to buy anything or communicate with anyone, AND you’ll be surrounded by books. I’ll admit that most NYC public library branches aren’t as hip as bookstore cafes, but if you want your time at the library to be a vibe, check out this list of the most instagrammable NYPL branches in the city.

NYC Rainy Day Idea 5

If you want to stare at a screen bigger than your phone:
A rainy day in NYC is the perfect time to watch a movie, but you have more options than going to your average AMC or doomscrolling through Netflix in your apartment. For an elevated movie watching experience, go to one of Nitehawk Cinema’s locations, where you can the see the latest blockbuster while dining on fancy restaurant-quality food. How many movie theaters will serve deviled eggs and a glass of Prosecco to your seat mid-movie?

Which of these ideas are you looking forward to trying during the next rainy day in NYC? Do you have any other suggestions for things to do on a rainy day in NYC? Share them in the comment section.

If you liked this guide on unusual things to do on a rainy day in NYC and you want weekly articles on NYC history, culture, and things to do, sign up for the Shiloh in the City email list and show some love for me on social media. Thanks for reading!

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