What to Do in New York City When it Rains
You won't need to consult a weather forecast to know when it is about to pour in New York City. Suddenly umbrella vendors sprout on every corner. Simply buy one and continue doing what you planned, or reorganize your itinerary to take account of the wet conditions. To help you stay dry, here are some suggestions for interesting places to spend some time out of the rain. When you have finished visiting one or all of them, the skies will be blue again – and if they are not, at least you will have a sunny disposition.
You'll Love: Macy's
If You Like: Shopping
For visitors who come to the Big Apple for the shopping, a stop at Macy's is one of the must what to do in New York City when it rains. The chain's enormous flagship store is located just across the street from Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Station in Midtown Manhattan. Women towing shopping-resistant males can send them to the Garden for a tour while they get down to some serious hunting and gathering at the world's largest department store.
Everyone gets a break at Macy's through a Visitor's Savings Voucher, and foreigners presenting appropriate identification at the customer service desk get a three-day discount pass. There are 11 floors of fashion interspersed with some pretty good places to eat, rest and admire your purchases, like Macy's Cellar Bar and Grill that does a terrific steak sandwich. Nostalgia fans will appreciate Macy's original wooden escalators.
You'll Love: Grand Central Station
If You Like: Architecture, History and Food
Grand Central Station - located near Central Park South - is a wonderful get-out-of-the-rain spot. If you arrive at rush hour, it is tremendously entertaining to stand on the mezzanine level and watch the commuters rush around like ants.
When the crowds have thinned, walk down to the Main Concourse, a masterpiece of the Beaux Arts architectural style. When it opened in 1913 the station quickly became surrounded with hotels and skyscrapers, including the 77-story Chrysler Building, that reflect its decorative style. Be sure to look up and take in the fantastic astronomical mural that depicts the Mediterranean sky with 25,000 stars.
Try the Whispering Gallery in front of the Oyster Bar. The vaulted space, covered in ceramic tile, allows a whispered conversation to be heard by people standing across from each other under the arch. You will get the idea if you wait a bit. Sooner or later a couple who know the trick will come along and do their whispering so you can see how it's done.
Believe it or not, Grand Central Station is a food Mecca. Walk through the Grand Central Market where everything from rare cheeses to fish and game are displayed with great artistry. This will make your mouth water, so continue on down to the basement food court where you will have difficulty choosing among so many exotic offerings. If you like Cajun chicken, you'll love Jaques-Imo's to Geaux, which is an outpost of the famous New Orleans restaurant of the same name.
You'll Love: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
If You Like: Art and History
If it looks like it is going to rain all day, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a great place to enjoy a warm space while feasting with your eyes and mind. There is so much variety in the galleries that the entire day will pass quickly.
To get away from the crowds that are touring the old masters, you should consider visiting the gallery of the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, the Robert Lehman Collection (Old Master Paintings and Drawings), or the Wrightsman Galleries of French decorative arts where the treasures are displayed in elaborate rooms brought across the Atlantic and set up in the Met.
Some of the very best works in the Metropolitan Museum are housed in the American Wing. Stand in front of the huge, luminous and awe-inspiring pictures by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Cole, and you will understand the spiritual attraction of the American landscape. Don’t miss the most famous of all the paintings in the Met's American collection - Gottlieb Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware.
A foot-powered voyage through art history at the Met demands fuel, and you can fill the tank at several excellent eateries right in the building. The American Wing Café is a good stop for the family in a hurry, as they have a wide selection of sandwiches and salads.
For a more formal dining experience with a view of Central Park, dine in the Petrie Court Café and Wine Bar. The extensive wine list includes certified biodynamic and organic wines such as Benzinger Chardonnay from California. Among the delicacies on the menu is sautéed brook trout, and the reasonably priced desserts include a calorific and very tempting chocolate molten cake with vanilla bean gelato.
Book a rental on the Upper East Side for easy access to the museum.
You'll Love: A Matinee Broadway Show
It's always dry in a theatre, so when you consider what to do in New York when it rains, be sure to keep in mind the offerings of Broadway. Armed with an umbrella, you may want to line up for discounted tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square, where the Wednesday and Saturday matinee tickets are on sale from 10am to 2pm and Sunday 11am to 3pm.
If You Like: Great Entertainment
If you want to skip the wait in the rain, go directly to the box office of the show you want to see (you can still save money with a matinee ticket). The theatres are close together, so if one is sold out it is only a short walk to your second or third choice. There is nothing like a good show to lift your spirits and make you forget the inclement weather.
Vacation rentals in Midtown are a great idea if you plan to hang out in Times Square a lot.
You'll Love: The Museum of the Moving Image
A short subway ride (M, R, Q, or N lines) from downtown Manhattan will bring you within a few paces of the Museum of the Moving Image at 37th Street and 35 Avenue in Astoria in Queens. Plan to stay here for a good part of the day so that you can take in all the exhibits and enjoy the screenings. The hours of the Museum of the Moving Image are from 10.30am to 5 or 8pm depending on the day of the week. After hours there is generally a screening of a film you are unlikely to see anywhere else, so you can extend your stay for the evening.
If You Like: Technology, Film and Old TV Programs
The changing exhibitions of the Museum focus on all aspects of the moving image, including films, television and video games, so you can be sure that there will be something to intrigue every member of the family. The Behind the Screen exhibition explores how films are made and the history of filmmaking technology. The old projectors are particularly fascinating.
The museum offers family-friendly screenings every weekday and hands-on workshops for kids every day in which they can learn about flipbooks and computer animation.
You'll Love: The Rubin Museum of Art
Not only can you get out of the rain at the welcoming Rubin Museum of Art on West 17th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, near Chelsea, you can also get away from the hubbub of New York City.
If You Like: Peace, Quiet, Contemplation and Inspiring Art
The permanent collection of art from the Himalayas (Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan) and adjacent regions, as well as the exquisite temporary shows, are installed in an environment that is conducive to rest and contemplation. No matter how long you stay in this wonderfully designed small museum, you will emerge refreshed and thankful for the respite from the frenetic energy of New York. Take some time contemplating the Tibetan thangkas which, even if you are not familiar with Buddhist gods and spirits, have a quality that gently lulls you into a near meditative state.
The museum shop is a great place to browse and pick up unique souvenirs of your trip to New York, and the museum restaurant has some very unusual dishes, including mouth-watering Malabar shrimp and chicken korma, and offers an array of specialty teas.
You'll Love: Ellis Island
Getting on a boat might not sound like one of the best what to do in New York when it rains, but the views of the city you get on a rainy day from a boat in New York Harbor are quite striking and different from the sunny ones on beautiful cloudless days.
If You Like: A Boat Trip, City Views and History
Over the years the first sight many immigrants and visitors had of the city was in gloomy and wet conditions. There is something quite authentic about seeing the Statue of Liberty in the rain. Lady Liberty seems to be even more welcoming in less than perfect weather. You can take a cruise out to see the statue with Statue Cruises that operates from Battery Park in New York City and Liberty Park in New Jersey.
Statue Cruises also offers a trip to Ellis Island, where you can spend a good part of a day inside inspecting exhibits commemorating the experience of thousands of newcomers to America. Be sure to see the inspiring American Immigrant Wall of Honor where you can check for names of your ancestors.