When the weather is less than ideal, don’t fret—there are plenty of things to do on a rainy day in NYC. Start by checking out some of these excellent indoor activities below, or use the inclement weather as an excuse to finally sign up for some of the best classes NYC has to offer. During a quick storm, you can always find refuge inside one of Gotham’s many cozy coffee shops—some of them even double as nail salons!
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Best things to do on a rainy day
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.
Explore a miniature world at Gulliver’s Gate
Get a bird's eye view of St. Petersburg, Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal and the Empire State Building without ever leaving Times Square. Gulliver’s Gate, a new exhibition of miniatures, taps into your sense of childlike wonder with its incredibly detailed displays. You can even play with the models, thanks to a personalized metal key that allows each visitor to see mummies chasing tourists out of a pyramid in Egypt or listen to the teeny-tiny Beatles perform in Liverpool. Visitors who check out Gulliver’s Gate in its first few months can even become “Model Citizens” by having their full body scanned and recreated as a miniature in one of the displays.
Fromage lovers have long known about the legendary selection at Murray’s Cheese. The store even has its own cheese caves, for goodness sake. Most people don’t realize that you can also take classes at the Greenwich Village location—topics range from making homemade mozzarella to pairing local cheeses with craft beer. And yes, most classes include tastings of the good stuff.
A coffee shop, nail salon and massage boutique exists in the Lower East Side, and it's pretty chill. In fact, the spot is appropriately named Chillhouse, and it's laid-back, cool-girl vibe makes this the perfect spot to kill time on a rainy day. This downtown haven is the brainchild of Taste of Style founder Cyndi Ramirez and the team behind The Garret, so you know the drinks, such as a Gold latte made with turmeric, and the nail art, designed by Eda Midori of Lady Fancy Nails, are the definition of cool.
There are more than 18,000 known species of butterflies and five families. Meet gems from three of those families, including the Pieridae (white and sulphur), the Papilionidae (black and yellow swallowtails) and the Nymphalidae (psychedelic-colored longwings) as they fly around in a vivarium compound.
The only tools you need for an introductory class at La Mano Pottery are your hands. You’ll learn to shape mugs, teapots and vases out of unformed clay in a two-hour workshop at this Chelsea studio. If your creations turn out well, you can have them glazed and fired for an additional $15. If you’d rather leave it to the professionals, you can also shop the studio’s selection of home decor and stoneware produced by local artisans.
Round up two to five of your most cunning friends for a private escape room experience at Escape Games NYC. Whether you choose the mob- or outer space-themed scenario, you’ll have to solve puzzles and riddles to find your way out. Keep your wits about you—it’s trickier than you might think.
Wishing you could spend some time working up a sweat in the great outdoors? Joining an indoor rock climbing gym might be the next best thing. Learn the basics in a private lesson at Manhattan Plaza Health Club’s massive facility, boasting more than 5,000 square feet of climbing space. And hey, if you get hooked on the sport, the gym has more than 60 routes for you to conquer.
You could easily spend a few hours wandering through Mario Batali’s Italian food hall and market on your own, but to make the most of the gourmet ingredients, you’ll want to book a class with Eataly’s La Scuola. Avid home cooks might be interested in a step-by-step class on making traditional ragu or cacio e pepe, while foodies who would rather eat than cook can sign up for one of the four-course feasts prepared by a professional chef.
Think of Q.E.D. as after-school activities for grown-ups. On any given night, the venue might have a comedy show, drink-and-draw event or beginner’s swing dancing class. Best of all, the classes and events come dirt cheap—and since you probably won’t pay more than $20, you’ll definitely have a few bucks left over for a beer.
Spiff yourself up and head to The Pierre for the swanky afternoon tea service of your dreams. The luxe cream-and-gold decor will make you feel like the high roller you are (or aspire to be) while you sip tea and nibble on petit-fours, finger sandwiches and scones. Spring for the royal treatment to get a glass of bubbly, too. Pinkies up!