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Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
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The best indoor activities in NYC

These indoor activities in NYC are perfect options when the weather outside is less than ideal

Written by Rossilynne Skena Culgan (Time Out) in association with Wicked on Broadway

NYC is an amazing place to spend time outside. You can’t go wrong strolling the streets, chilling in a beautiful park, dining outside, admiring some public art, sipping a cocktail at a rooftop bar or enjoying a street fair.

But alas, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Rain, snow and humidity can spoil outdoor plans. Fortunately, there are plenty of indoor activities in NYC that make it worth leaving your apartment when the conditions outside are less than ideal. From world-class museums and slick mini golf spots to cozy bookstores, indoor climbing gyms and top-notch shopping, you can plan a day out without worrying about downpours, snowstorms or whatever inconvenient weather may arise. Get out there and enjoy these indoor activities in NYC.

Best indoor activities in NYC

  • Sports and fitness
  • Sports & Fitness

Carreau Club, the nation’s first pétanque bar, has added an indoor location to its ranks with more space to get your game on while sipping a drink.

The indoor venue at Brooklyn's Industry City makes for great night out with a full bar, craft beer, wine and cocktails, plus a small deli counter. For the uninitiated, pétanque (pronounced puh-TONK) is a bocce-ball style French boules sport gaining popularity in the U.S., starting here in NYC. 

  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms

Treat yourself like royalty at one of NYC’s best spots for afternoon tea, complete with fancy sandwiches, decadent scones, lavish surroundings and a caffeine jolt. From the elegant Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel to the park views at Mandarin Oriental, these special tea services will make you cozy on the rainiest or coldest day.

  • Shopping
  • East Village

Boasting 18 miles of books, the Strand maintains a mammoth collection of more than 2 million volumes. The store is made all the more daunting by its chaotic, towering shelves and meandering paths. Reviewer discounts are in the basement, while rare volumes lurk upstairs.

If you spend enough time here you can find just about anything, from that out-of-print Victorian book on manners to the kitschiest of sci-fi pulp. Browsing this massive collection of books and tchotchkes will keep you busy indoors.

  • Things to do
  • Midtown West

This "crazy mini-golf course" and entertainment complex straight from London offers three nine-hole golf courses across 23,000 square feet under 20-foot-high ceilings. For those new to the game, "crazy golf" is a British spin on mini-golf, but it's for a 21-and-over audience since craft cocktails are served by caddies on the course. In addition to the cocktails, the course offers a little more edge — think wild routes, obstacles, windmills and more.

At Swingers NoMad, expect six cocktail bars with signature classic cocktails from London and D.C., as well as 12 cocktails created specifically for NYC, private rooms you can rent, an opulent clubhouse and four gourmet street food vendors—Sauce Pizzeria, Miznon, Fonda and Mah Ze Dahr Bakery.

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Central Park

Occupying 11-and-a-half acres of Central Park, the Met is the ideal unpleasant-weather diversion and surprisingly easy to negotiate.

Visit the ground floor's north wing to view the collection of Egyptian art and the glass-walled atrium housing the Temple of Dendur, overlooking a reflective pool. Two halls in the southern wing house Greek and Roman art. Turning west brings you to the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas collection; the American Wing houses the Charles Engelhard Court. Now more a sculpture court than an interior garden, it houses large-scale 19th-century works in bronze and marble.

You could spend days exploring, but a few hours on a rainy afternoon will do.

  • Bars

Some might assume that sky-high imbibing is a spring and summertime affair, but it’s always rooftop season in NYC. Even during rain, wind and lower temperatures, we simply swap the sunshine and frozen drinks for fireplaces and hot cocktails while still soaking up the skyline view. So grab a sweater and set your sights on the stars at the best cooler weather rooftops with retractable roofs and cozy indoor tables.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Live like Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe at The FRIENDS Experience: The One in New York City. It's basically an immersive museum celebrating the '90s sitcom. You'll get to walk through rooms that look exactly like the ones on the TV show.

Photo opportunities abound. There’s a chance to pose with the “Pivot” couch, a backdrop that looks like the Vegas chapel, and a photo opp with Phoebe’s grandma’s taxi. You can even pose on top of Pat the Dog, snap a photo with the giant poking device and take a selfie in Monica’s apartment. Using high-quality cameras, staff take photos at each spot, which you can purchase at the end. But staff will also take free photos with your cell phone if you ask. 

It's not just a selfie museum, though. There's a fascinating display featuring the show's costume designer Debra McGuire where you'll learn about her sartorial choices for each character. Another exhibit spotlights artist Burton Morris, whose Pop art pieces decorate Central Perk. Other display cases feature set designs, signed scripts, props and costumes.  

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Prospect Park
  • price 1 of 4

Step inside the stunning Victorian-style greenhouse at the entrance to the New York Botanical Gardens to discover a whole world of flora. It’s easy to forget you’re still in the city as you walk through displays of everything from aquatic plants to desert cacti to palm trees. The pitter-patter of rain on the glass roof creates a soothing soundtrack to your visit.

  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

The House of Cannabis (a.k.a. THC NYC) is a new weed museum in Soho. While the museum boasts plenty of mind-bending multi-sensory bells and whistles, it also showcases art, highlights science and confronts the social justice issues baked into cannabis prosecution.

Don't miss: The Euphorium, a massive spinning record you can sit or lay on while listening to music, from The Doors to Santana. With the room's impressive light show and hazy vibes, it's like a merry-go-round for adults.  

  • Art
  • Art

Inside a venue dating back 100 years into the past, a new art show explores a question of the future: How can human creativity and artificial intelligence coexist?

ARTECHOUSE, located inside an old boiler room at Chelsea Market, has debuted its latest digital art exhibition, “World of AI·magination;” tickets are on sale here starting at $21/person. To create the exhibition, ARTECHOUSE Studio developed original visual elements with generative AI systems. Designers hope to inspire visitors to consider AI as a "creative associate rather than a mere tool for innovation." 

World of AI·magination centers around a 20-minute cinematic experience with six scenes. One scene, called the Library of Magical Portals, features colossal books brimming with dreams and algorithms. Another scene called Symphony of Illusions constantly morphs, while the Infinite Maze immerses visitors into multiple parallels.

  • Sports and fitness
  • Golf
  • Civic Center

There are other venues to perfect your swing away from the elements in New York, but this West Side complex doesn't require membership: Casual golfers can whack a few balls when the mood takes them from one of the 52 stalls over four floors. The simulators allow you to compete in over 55 virtual championship courses while supping on pizza and tacos at Water Hazard, the on-site restaurant.

  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

Get your game on at a board game cafe near Union Square.

Filled with 500 games, Hex & Co.'s latest location is now open just south of Union Square at 801 Broadway (Broadway and East 11th in Greenwich Village) and ready for gamers of all fandoms. 

This is the third location for Hex & Co., joining fellow board game cafes in the Upper West Side and Upper East Side. It also joins sister stores The Uncommons in Greenwich Village and The Brooklyn Strategist in Carroll Gardens.

The new cafe is the first with a true private room, perfect for parties of all kinds. Visitors can choose from more than 500 games on the venue's massive game wall, everything from Taboo and Risk to Catan and Ticket to Ride. 

  • Sports and fitness
  • Sports & Fitness

Wild Captives, the nation’s first female- and LGBTQ-owned archery studio, is now open. It's a place where everyone can "be their own superhero." The studio in Brooklyn’s Industry City offers empowering and fun hour-long introduction to archery classes every weekend for $45/person. 

Each intro class includes a chance to learn about different parts of the bow and safety requirements. After the lesson, each participant gets a chance to shoot the bow trying to pop a balloon pinned onto the bullseye. Intro-to-archery classes are available each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, bookable online for anyone over age 12.

  • Sports and fitness
  • Sunnyside

Practice your triple axels before you hit the city's A-list rinks at this indoor facility, which offers dozens of weekly skating classes, as well as daily open sessions. There's also the added benefit of having a second, smaller area for spillover. The additional rink—made of synthetic material—gives grizzled adult leaguers a place to practice their hockey stops while you enjoy your leisurely laps.

  • Shopping
  • Shopping centers
  • Chelsea

Food-lovers can spend hours browsing the specialty stores in Chelsea's renovated Nabisco factory. Grab a coffee and take your sweet time while enjoying the perks of market shopping all under one roof. Check out fresh catches at the Lobster Place, browse a good range of vino at Chelsea Wine Vault, and pick up Italian cooking staples at Buon Italia.

If the rain lets up, you're in prime position to enjoy the High Line without the crowds.

Grab a book at Housing Works Bookstore Café
  • Shopping
  • Toys and games
  • Soho

The two-level Soho space stocks a range of literary fiction, nonfiction, rare books and collectibles. Leisurely browsing is often rewarded by finding something you never knew you wanted. It's a peaceful spot for solo relaxation in the plentiful seating, or for meeting friends over coffee or wine in the cafe. Board games such as Trivial Pursuit Book Lover's Edition are available to play.

  • Museums
  • Movies and TV
  • Astoria

Only 15 minutes from midtown, the Museum of the Moving Image is one of the city’s most dynamic institutions. Rubbing elbows with Kaufman Astoria Studios, it includes a three-story extension that features a state-of-the-art 267-seat cinema and expanded gallery spaces.

Meanwhile, the museum’s “Behind the Screen” exhibit examines every step of the filmmaking process, with artifacts from more than 1,000 different productions, and 14 classic (playable!) video games, including Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • Williamsburg

Dinner and a movie sounds good, right? But what happens if you get soaked on your way from the restaurant to the picture house and proceed to catch pneumonia in the arctic AC? Thankfully, now you can get fine food while you watch a flick. Try this Williamsburg spot for a fab menu and programming that skews to new indie releases and retro gems.

  • Things to do
  • Schools and universities
  • Lower East Side

The library at ICP houses back issues of photography magazines and thousands of biographical and photographic files. Photojournalism is an important part of the center's program, which also includes contemporary photos and video. The two floors of exhibition space often showcase retrospectives devoted to single artists.

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