Things to Do in New York City When It’s Too Hot, Too Cold or Too Rainy to Be Outside

It happens to the best of us. You spend time and energy planning the perfect vacation. You’re looking forward to a bike ride around Central Park, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge and, of course, a walking tour with us at Metro Tours. As your trip approaches, you start to check out the weather and then you see it. A whole week’s worth of ominous storm cloud icons for every. day. of. your. trip. New York City typically follows the general northeast weather patterns, which means we have four proper seasons. It can get very cold in the winter months, but also very hot in the summer months. In fact, as we write this today, the temperatures will approach the low 90s!

To save you, our dear readers and followers, the trouble of researching alternative ideas for your trip, we have put together a list of recommendations for things to do when the weather is not cooperating with your planned itinerary of outdoor activities. You are coming to one of the best cities in the world (THE best, in our humble opinion…) so rest assured that there are many things to do that will keep you out of the elements and cool, warm, dry and comfortable. As always, if you need more specific guidance based on your hotel location or interests, give us a shout. We love to help visitors plan their trips, and we even offer fully customizable and tailored itineraries. Now, on to the good stuff.

Not surprisingly, we are going to include a few museums on this list. There is good chance that the Metropolitan Museum of Art and/or the Museum of Natural History are already on your itinerary. But we want to suggest a couple of less obvious but equally enriching options.

The Tenement Museum

Immigration is topic we hear a lot about in the news these days and many of us can trace our place in the U.S. through ancestors who entered the country in Ellis Island. The Tenement Museum offers a fascinating look into how immigrants lived in the Lower East Side in the 19th and 20th centuries through tenement apartment tours and museum exhibits.  The museum also offers special events such as some late night tours and experiences.

The Transit Museum

Here at Metro Tours, we are endlessly fascinated by the New York City subway system (link to blog on the subways).  We highly recommend checking out the New York City Transit Museum in Brooklyn.  It is in an authentic, underground subway station and features a rotating selection of vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907. It also has exhibits like the current “Changing Signs, Changing Times: A History of Wayfinding in Transit” which traces the evolution of wayfinding in transit. If you are into signage like we are, this is a must see.

The Non-Museum Stuff

If you are traveling with kids, it may be tough to get in a ton of museum time without negotiating something like time at the M&M’s Store in Times Square.  Not that we have anything against the M&M’s Store, but you get the idea.  With that in mind, we put together a few kid friendly non-museum options as well.

Grand Central Terminal

You can’t come to New York City without visiting the iconic Grand Central Terminal.   This historic landmark opened in 1913 and is a historic and world-famous landmark.  GCT’s landmark status is thanks to architect Philip Johnson and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who campaigned to secure it in 1987. GTC boasts shops, restaurants and plentiful photo opportunities including the gold leaf constellation ceiling.  Don’t leave without trying out the Whispering Gallery

Chelsea Market

A charming indoor market where you can find art, jewelry and collectibles by artists from right here in New York to exotic locations like Morroco.  One of our favorite stops is Chelsea Market Baskets where you can find a delightful collection of New York City souvenirs including a ceramic version of our favorite Anthora cup (link to other blog post on Anthora cup).  Our advise is to plan to spend some time here before or after a meal as there are countless amazing food options.

The Museum of Illusions

We know, technically this is another museum. But if you are traveling with kids, this is a good stop. And even if you aren’t traveling with kids, it is fun experience for people of all ages. Its exhibits offer an intriguing visual, sensory and educational experience.  Things are never as they seem in this place!  It also features a “Smart Playroom” where visitors can play and compete in Dilemma games which are designed to stretch your brain.  So while you might not be logging steps through Central Park, you are still getting a brain workout!

Metro Tours Pro Tip: The Museum of Illusions is about a five minute walk from Chelsea Market.

This is just a small sample of ideas we have for you.  Feel free to get in touch with us directly for more, or to request one of our complementary neighborhood guides.  Safe travels!


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