Just because it’s rainy doesn’t mean you should lose a day or even an hour of your precious holiday time. It’s difficult when it’s raining cats and dogs on a tropical island but big cities offer so much to do indoors. Especially New York.
Yes, you can schlep uptown to the Met and see much of the ancient world in one day. Or you can catch the subway straight to the lower level doors of the Museum of Natural History and avoid the rain altogether. (see one of our previous New York stories here for hints and tips to do New York on a budget). Or YOU can look at the sky and say “I’m going to have the best #%$&+@! day ever.”
A little rain never hurt anybody. Hey, I know; it rains nearly everywhere I go. You’ll be rainy day equipped in 3 easy steps:
1. Put on rain-friendly footwear (leave your dress Havianas in your suitcase).
2. Grab an umbrella (ask the hotel front desk if you didn’t pack a fold up)
3. Buy a Metro Card and have one helluva day.
Here are my top 5 things to do on a damp New York day.
TAKE A WALK AND LOOK UP
It might not seem like the thing to do in the rain but as long as it’s not bucketing cats and dogs, the 2.3km Highline will be much more fun without the crowds. You can take your time and take in all the art and design of the former West Side Line. (A New York Central Railroad spur). The High Line stretches from West 34th Street and 11th Street, near the Javits Center to Gansevoort St – three blocks south of 14th Street.
The architecture, the plantings, murals and the people all make it a novel way to see how Manhattanites live. Real estate prices have skyrocketed in the neighbourhood since the Highline was finished. Maybe it has to do with amorous Standard Hotel guests enjoying the audience-appreciation.
Or take a walk around your neighbourhood. You will be surprised what’s right on your doorstep. Take your time and look up beyond the hoardings, restaurants and stores at this great city’s architecture – it can be breathtaking. From Beaux Arts head-spinners to Art Deco wonders and De-constructivist marvels – the beauty is all around.
We discovered our hotel near Battery Park was just across the street from the Irish Hunger Memorial. Commemorating the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852) the sobering memorial includes an authentic 19th-century Irish cottage. Stones from across Ireland and soil and vegetation from Ireland’s West Coast were incorporated into the structure. Perhaps it’s at its best on a rainy day.
Why not take a walk in Central Park? Yes, it is special when it’s sunny but the trees glisten at Strawberry Fields during a shower.
GO TO CHURCH
Perhaps New York’s most famous (and photographed) church is Fifth Avenue’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. Across the street from the Rockefeller Center and the Atlas statue, the cathedral makes a fine place to sit and contemplate a while. The stained glass, the Pieta and the Tiffany altars alone make this a New York icon. Book ahead for tours.
A little further along Fifth Avenue is St Thomas’s – striking both inside and out. This French Flamboyant Gothic masterpiece like St Patrick’s Cathedral is an official New York City Landmark.
HAVE A COCKTAIL
You could try another much-loved New York tradition: cocktails. Stay warm and cozy in a local bar or try Oscar Wilde Bar on West 27th between 5th and 6th Avenues. The outrageous interior design might be the drawcard but it’s the cocktails and delectable food that will keep you there for another round.
After marvelling at Grand Central Station’s twinkling stars on the main concourse, drink something delicious at any of the grand bars. Under the stars at Michael Jordan’s seems just the place for a dry martini or you can go full Don Draper with an Old Fashioned. Toast the city that never sleeps and forget about the rain.
EAT ICE CREAM, CANDY OR BOTH
Dylan Lauren opened her pioneering ‘Dylan’s Candy Bar‘ in 2001. Dylan’s is a sweet blend of 21st century Willy Wonka, a pinch of high fashion (she is a Lauren after all) and a giant lollipop tree. You might get a sugar high just from the sweet scents.
This is not a quiet place. Between the eye-popping colours and kids who have just had too much sugar, this is noisy and fun. Embrace your inner nine-year-old and be over-awed.
If candy, jelly beans, chocolate, gummy bears, or lollipops aren’t your thing try the sundaes or a cookie butter milkshake. This psychedelic temple devoted to the worship of sugar has a long cocktail list too.
Or if you’re in the neighbourhood, Little Italy is the place for gelato. Caffe Palermo or Ferrara Bakery and Cafe in Little Italy are straight out of the Sopranos with every kind of rainy day comfort.
GO RAINY DAY CELEB-SPOTTING
The fun of spotting celebrities never stops for the rain. Movie and television stars have to eat and catch the subway just like the rest of us. In seven trips to NYC, we have spotted (in no particular order), Kelly Osbourne, Andy Samberg, Parker Posey, Willem Dafoe, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stevie Wonder, Naomi Campbell and Lewis Hamilton. There are no photos. In New York, you must keep your cool – please, please don’t ask for a selfie. That’s so L.A.