What to Do at Night in New York City

Updated: Januar 12, 2024

In the city that never sleeps, there is always something to do at Night in New York City.

Below we list the very best things to do at night, awesome free activities for after dark, and family-friendly options as well.

As local tour guides who have lived in NYC for years, we know a thing or two about the city's nightlife.

Plus, we lead hundreds of people each week on night walking tours, and we are asked about what to do afterward on every single tour.

We've used these experiences to craft this post.

We also sourced ideas from the roughly 200k members of our popular NYC Travel Tips Facebook group.

Nightlife in NYC Tips

Our group consists of locals, like us tour guides, expats, regular visitors, as well as newbies to NYC.

You don't need to join to read the posts, comments, and suggestions.

So, check out the group once you are finished reading this post.

For even more ideas, check out our master post for things to do in New York City.


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

Below are our top 10 recommendations for things to do at night in New York City. 

For tips on the most popular activities in NYC, check out the following posts:

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass


Podcast Episode: Listen to tour guides Lori and Katherine discuss things to do in NYC at night on an episode of our NYC Travel Tips podcast.

This podcast offers bite-sized audio clips with tips on how to plan your trip to NYC. You can get our podcast on Apple, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts.


1. Go to a Broadway Show

Sure, this may be an obvious one, but there's a reason why.

Going to a Broadway show is one of the experiences that so many tourists (and locals!) look forward to doing at night.

The video below explains some ways you can save money on tickets.

Some popular shows include:

See what's playing while you are in town.

TIP: If you are here from mid-January to early February, take advantage of Broadway Week where you can get two-for-the-price-of-one tickets to many Broadway shows. 


2. Attend a Music Concert

A rock band on stage

New York City gets all the biggest names in music rolling into town, with a few resident performers like Billy Joel playing legendary venues like Madison Square Garden.

With multiple arenas and venues in and around the city, you can find a great gig every night of the week!

Click here to see who is playing when you are in NYC. 

Also, check these major venues to see their performance schedules.


3. View the City from an Observation Deck

What could be more magical than a 360-degree view of New York City glittering at night?

The top five city's skyscraper observation decks open at night are:

All four are included for free on at least a few Ermäßigungsscheine für Touristen.

If you aren’t sure which of the three to visit, we’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of each of them.   


4. Go Ice Skating

Yes, this is one of the most fun things to do at night in New York City if you are here between November and March!

Of course, there is the famed Rink at Rockefeller Center that's open until 11 pm.

The Rink at Bank of America Winter Village is also open late and it's free if you have your own skates, but you can also rent some there.

Sky Skate at Edge offers incredible views from this sky-high observation deck.

Skate under the Brooklyn Bridge arches at Glide at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Find out where to go ice skating in New York City.


5. See a Sports Event

Night sporting events nyc

Sports fans rejoice! New York City is home to some of the best sports teams. All year round you can attend a sports event at night.

Baseball games are from April to October and Basketball (the Yankees and the Mets).

Ice Hockey runs from October to April and NYC has 3 area teams, the Rangers, the Islanders and the Devils (who play nearby in Newark).

The American Football season runs from September through January and NYC has 2 teams, the Giants, and the Jets.

Football (or soccer) takes place from February through September and NYC has 2 teams, FC-New York, which plays at Yankee Stadium, and the Red Bulls, which plays in NJ.

Tennis comes to town with the Grand Slam tournament the U.S. Open in late August through early September.


6Take a Night Walking Tour

We offer several night tours from March until November. View our current schedule.

New York Walking Tours

In December, we offer a New York Holiday Lights Tour.

You can also use our GPS Audio self-guided tours and our self-guided tours to explore on your own after sunset. 


7. Night Bus Tours

NYC Night Bus Tours

Another way to enjoy seeing the city at night is by bus. Many bus companies offer nighttime versions of their day tours.

The most popular are double-decker bus tours.

These tours are not hop-on-hop-off, rather they are one loop and almost always come with a live tour guide.

There is at least one company that makes a few stops where you can get out and take photos.

Read our detailed comparison of night bus tour options available in NYC.

Several options are offered for free as part of Ermäßigungsscheine für Touristen or combination tickets. 

Be sure to check out our comparison of all the night bus tours for more info. 


8. Cruise Around NYC

For gorgeous views of the city in a relaxing environment, consider a night cruise.

There are many choices, including dinner and jazz cruises, sailboat sunset rides, and cruises around the Statue of Liberty.

Prices typically range from $30-$40 on average, but dinner cruises can cost quite a bit more.

If you plan on dining while you take in the views, expect to pay between $100-$150 per ticket, though several options are included for free on at least a few of the Ermäßigungsscheine für Touristen.

Be sure to read our night boat tour comparison post.

For those on a budget, try the Staten Island Ferry for a free night ride.

See below for more information on this incredible ride. 


9. Dine Out

In NYC, you don’t have to spend lots of money to eat some of the world's tastiest foods.

There are simply too many great restaurants to list here. The below neighborhood posts do include restaurant recommendations.

And do make the time for the best pizza in NYC!

TIP: Twice a year, in the winter and the summer, you can get incredible meals at low prices (relative to the full prices) during Restaurant Week


10. Museums Open Late

Evenings are a perfect time to visit some of the city's finest museums.

Many offer late hours, which are often free (or pay-what-you-wish) to enter. Some popular picks are:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (open until 9 pm Thursdays and Fridays)
  • Museum of Modern Art (open until 9 p.m. on Free Fridays)
  • Whitney Museum of American Art (open until 10 p.m. on Fridays)

In addition to the observation decks, many of the top NYC popular attractions also stay open late.

Avoid crowds, sightsee during the day, and fill up your evenings with a late-night visit to places like:

See our full list of late-night attractions here.


11. See a Stand-up Comedy Show

Some of the most famous stand-up comedians in the world are drawn to perform in NYC throughout the year.

A majority of comedy shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. - 9 p.m., making this an excellent nighttime activity.

While the more well-known comics have their shows in theaters, there are also a lot of great comedy clubs in New York where you can catch some of the up-and-comers.

Every now and then, famous comedians will even perform in these clubs just for fun!

No matter when you're visiting NYC, chances are you'll be able to find a great comic to watch.

Check this list of stand-up comedy shows in New York to see who is performing when you're in town.

NOTE: New York Sightseeing Pass holders are eligible for free admission to the LOL Times Square Comedy Club. They also offer a 10% discount on all food and drinks at this club!

Even if you're not interested in visiting that location, you can still use this pass to save 20% off tickets at both the Broadway Comedy Club and the Greenwich Village Comedy Club.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

12. Have a Cocktail at a Historic Bar

New Yorkers have been drinking since the city was first settled in 1624. The choice of alcoholic beverages has improved a lot since then!

Though the drinks have advanced, several historic bars look quite a lot as they did when they first opened.

Or visit neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village in Manhattan, or Williamsburg in Brooklyn, where you have an abundance of drinking holes to choose from

Check out Frances Tavern, serving up drinks to British colonialists since 1762, or McSorley’s Old Ale House (1854) in the East Village.


13. Seasonal Activities

As with any big city, there are major seasonal events that take place at night that are must-do activities for tourists and visitors. 

You can skip to our section with links on activities by month, but here is a summary of some of the top items.

Christmas Season - not to be missed if the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza, the many holiday window displays, and the neighborhood lights competitions, like the outlandish Dyker Heights Lights.

Ice Skating - From November through March, most NYC parks host ice skating rinks that are open after dark.

Summer Months - Warm weather offers many nighttime options, such as Shakespeare in Central Park, outdoor movies throughout the city, and live music every night (and most of it is free).


OK. Admittedly purchasing a tourist discount pass isn't free, and they may seem expensive.

However, the all-inclusive tourist passes include most of the city's popular tourist attractions and tours, including hop-on-hop-off bus tours and boat cruises. 

The object of these all-inclusive passes is to experience as many things in a day as you have time for.

These passes are sold in increments of days, and the longer the pass the less the daily cost is.

So, if you plan efficiently, you will end up getting free access to several tours and attractions. 


15. Take a Helicopter Tour around Manhattan

This is certainly not an inexpensive option, but it's arguably one of the most memorable things you can do day and night.

For the most part, helicopter rides are divided into 3 options, a 15-minute ride, a 20-minute ride, or a 30-minute ride, with prices starting just over $200/person.

Fly higher than the Empire State Building's Observation Deck, over the many Manhattan bridges, past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Read our post that explains your options for helicopter rides in NYC.


FREE THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

Many of the activities included above in our top 10 section are free, such as walking the Brooklyn Bridge or taking a free walking tour.

We've included some cheap items as well. 

Be sure to read our posts on free things to do, free late-open museumsund NYC on a budget.

Below are some suggestions on how to spend your evening in NYC for free.


Walk the Brooklyn Bridge  

Brooklyn-Bridge-at-night

The Brooklyn Bridge can be walked over 24 hours a day, and until around 9 or 10 pm (22:00) you will likely find many other people here.

Sunsets are especially spectacular. 

From the bridge, you'll get incredible 360-degree skyline views of the New York Harbor, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, and you can see the Statue of Liberty way off in the distance.  

You can use our detailed post on walking the Brooklyn Bridge to make the most of this unforgettable experience.

For those who want some personal guidance while walking the Bridge at night, join us for our combined 911 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge Night Tour.  

It runs Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 7:30 pm (21:30) from March through October.  

We also have a  GPS-enabled audio tour of the Brooklyn Bridge that can be used at any time of the day or night. 


Visit the 9/11 Memorial  

911-Memorial

This memorial to the lost lives of 9/11 is located in a simple, spacious wide-open plaza in Lower Manhattan.

Its massive twin fountains are an architectural wonder. Click here to find out about how to visit the Memorial. 

We have a combined night tour of the 9/11 Memorial and the Brooklyn Bridge Tour.

For a guided visit at any time, try our GPS-enabled audio tour of the Memorial. 

Note: If you are considering visiting the 9/11 Museum, they have free hours on Tuesday evenings. To find out more, click here


Walk the High Line 

High Line at Night

The High Line is one of the most unusual city parks, built on an abandoned elevated railroad that runs parallel to the Hudson River.

A stroll during the day is lovely but it also attracts crowds.  

At night, it's simply wonderful with its expansive views of the city all lit up!

The park has late hours most of the year.

  • June 1 until September 30 - open until 11 pm (23:00)
  • April, May, October, and November - open until 10 pm (22:00)
  • Dec-March - open until 7 pm (19:00)

We offer a sunset tour of the High Line 2 times a week in the summer. You can also use our GPS-enabled audio tour.

TIP: If you walk the High Line, stop by the Chelsea Market which has shops with unique culinary delights as well as retail shops with flair.

The huge indoor market is open Monday - Saturday 7 am to 9 pm (21:00), and Sunday 8 am to 8 pm (20:00). 


Stroll through Times Square

This is one place you should visit at night. That's when the bright lights and billboards are buzzing with energy.

This is a perfect place to people-watch, so grab a seat on the red TKTS steps and marvel at the beat of New York City's heart.

Be sure to catch the Midnight Moment. Every night from 11:57 pm until midnight, you can witness the world’s largest digital art exhibition. 

The huge billboards in Times Square are synchronized resulting in three fabulous moments of the same whimsical imagery. 

Watch a short video of the synchronization. 

Our post Things to Do in Times Square lists many other things to do in the area at night.


Explore Grand Central Terminal

Grand-Central-Terminal-inside

From its massive celestial ceiling to its secret ‘whispering gallery’, Grand Central is one of New York's greatest landmarks.

Nighttime is the perfect time to explore Grand Central.

The lights are still bright, but it's much more peaceful than the daytime when thousands of people are streaming through.

We offer a daytime tour, but at night you might like to use our GPS-enabled audio tour or use our Self-Guided Grand Central Station Tour and Visitors Guide


Attend a TV Show Live Taping

Totally free and totally fun! Being in the studio audience of one of your favorite shows is possible.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and many other shows are just a few of the well-known shows.  

We have compiled a list of New York TV show tapings along with how you can get tickets.

While many are taped during the day, here are the shows that tape in the early evening or take place live at night. 

Several shows do require you to reserve in advance, but you never know, you may be able to get a seat in an audience at the last minute. 


Enjoy a Free Manhattan Skyline View

Roosevelt Island Tram

Going to the top of the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock may be must-dos on many people's lists, but you can also enjoy free skyline views

Great and free views of Manhattan's skyline can be had from Brooklyn, especially from Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO.

Our favorite is to ride the Roosevelt Island Tram, a gondola that runs between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island and crosses the East River.

Technically, it costs a ride on the NYC Subway, but you will most likely already have a MetroCard.


Take a Self-Guided Tour

Audio Tours at Night NYC

Of course, we would love to have you join us on our daytime pay-what-you-wish walking tours, but your schedule may not allow for it.

But we want you to see the very best New York has to offer so enjoy our self-guided tours and GPS audio tours to explore on your own.

Click here for our list of over 30 self-guided tours and here for our list of audio tours.

Here are some neighborhoods that are fitting for an evening or nighttime visit. 

  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Times Square 
  • Midtown Manhattan
  • Lower Manhattan 

Ride the free Staten Island Ferry

Not only is the Staten Island Ferry free, but it also runs 24 hours a day and makes a great nighttime option, especially to see the Statue of Liberty up close.   

If you come at night, remember that the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center is open until 9 pm, as is the 9/11 Museum and One World Observatory (a.k.a. the Freedom Tower). 

Along with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, you could easily spend an evening in Lower Manhattan. 


Hang out in Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village at Night

Without a doubt, the Village is a 'round-the-clock" neighborhood.

It has dozens of inexpensive restaurants and bars, beautiful leafy side streets, and Washington Square Park, the best place to people-watch day or night.

The park is quite safe and well-lit in the evening and there are plenty of benches to sit on.

Spend 1 hour in Washington Square Park at night, you might see an impromptu sing-along of 20-30 people, acrobats putting on shows, classical musicians performing al fresco, and NYU students filming a short film - anything goes in Washington Square Park at night.

The West Village is a particularly good place to spend an evening listening to live music at one of its jazz clubs, such as the Blue Note, or The Village Vanguard.

Use our Greenwich Village Neighborhood Guide to find out how to navigate the neighborhood and where to find the fun. 


Honorable Mentions


FAMILY-FRIENDLY NIGHT ACTIVITIES

Many suggestions already made in the previous sections are appropriate for families, but there are lots more fun things for kids in NYC at night.

Many of these attractions are conveniently located in Times Square and are perfect for families and, at the same time, great for night owls since many of these options stay open until 10 p.m. (22:00) or beyond! 


Madame Tussauds

The world-famous wax figure attraction has over 200 wax figures of famous musicians, A-list stars, sports legends, world leaders, and more.

There is a Marvel Super Hero 4D ultra-sensory superhero film and the popular Ghostbusters Virtual Reality Experience.

Madame Tussauds is open until 10 p.m. (22:00) on weekdays and midnight on weekends. See our blog post for all the details. 


The Escape Game

Get everybody involved in solving the puzzle at The Escape Game.

Each room is full of clues you must use to escape in under one hour to win the game.

You can choose from multiple adventures with varying levels of difficulty.

Rooms have themes, like Special Ops, Playground, The Heist, Gold Rush, and Prison Break.

The last slot you can reserve is 11:30 pm, so you will be out after midnight -- provided you can escape!


The New Victory Theater

In the heart of Times Square is the New Victory, New York City’s first and only full-time performing arts theater for kids and families.

Evening shows are usually at 7 pm (21:00).

They have a full show calendar with a rotating array of plays, circus acts, dancing, puppets, and more. 

You can filter your search by age or date.

Check their website for more information. 


Sleepover on the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

Spend the night on an aircraft carrier during Operation Slumber, perfect for kids 8 to 12 years of age.

You and your family get to spend the night in this incredible museum.

You’ll also get a tour by flashlight, along with exclusive access to the ship and Space Shuttle Pavilion.

There is a pop-up planetarium show and unlimited rides in a flight simulator. Dinner, Breakfast, and snacks are included.

For all the information, see the Museum’s website.  

Dates vary and can sell out quickly. For a daytime visit, see our post on Discounts for Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum.


Sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History

This very popular and unique event gives children and their accompanying adults the chance to sleep next to T. Rex! 

The sleepover is much more than just sleeping. The flashlight fossil search is one highlight of this fun and educational tour. 

After a snack, it's time to find a spot to sleep, perhaps under the blue whale or at the base of a volcano.

This activity is great for kids ages 6-13.

The cost is $145 per person and includes an evening snack and light breakfast, cots for all participants, and a goody bag to take home.

Visit their website for sleepover dates and more information.

See our post on the American Museum of Natural History for more information on visiting the museum and also how you can get discounts if you prefer to visit during the daytime. 


Tenement Museum Thursdays

On Thursdays, this exceptional museum stays open until 8:30 pm (22:30).

You can only visit the museum through one of their guided tours, but they are well worth it.

The museum is ideal for kids from ages 8 and up, though on late tours, keep in mind that the tour requires walking stairs and a sleepy child may not enjoy the experience.

Click here for more information on the Tenement Museum.


Head out to Coney Island

In the warm weather months, head to Luna Park for a ride on the famous Cyclone roller-coaster and play the many boardwalk-style games.

Grab hot dogs at world-famous Nathan's and stroll the boardwalk which will have plenty of lively activity.

Read our post, Things to do in Coney Island, for information about getting there and things to see and do.


Chinatown and Little Italy

These adjacent neighborhoods are almost the same now as Little Italy grows smaller and Chinatown grows bigger, taking over Little Italy.

The whole area is always busy in the evenings, restaurant signs are lit, and the streets are filled with locals and tourists alike, dining out or doing some nighttime shopping.

This is an especially good way to spend an evening with kids.

It’s a relatively small area to cover and it is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. 

Use our posts on Little Italy Restaurants and Other Things to See and Things to See and Where to Eat in Chinatown to find out where to shop, dine, and what to see in these fun neighborhoods.


Nintendo World

This 10,000-square-foot store in Rockefeller Center has both merchandise and loads of Nintendo games available to play.

Check their Kalender for special events and to find out when special characters will be stopping by the store like Mario & Luigi or Pikachu!

Hours: Mon-Thurs until 9 pm (21:00), Fri/Sat until 11 pm (23:00), and Sunday until 8 pm (22:00). 

For other information, see their website for more information.


Dylan's Candy Bar

Their flagship store is at 1011 Third Ave (at 60th St.) on the Upper East Side.

Although the store purports to be the largest candy store in the world, the surrounding neighborhood is a bit sleepy in the evenings so you might prefer their Union Square store since the neighborhood is incredibly lively in the evenings.

Hours: Mon-Thurs until 10 pm (22:00), Fri/Sat until 11 pm (23:00), and Sun until 9 pm (21:00).

Visit their website for information and to make sure your kids’ favorite candy is in stock.

NOTE: New York Sightseeing Pass holders are eligible for a discount of 15% at Dylan's Candy Bar!


Blue Man Group

A highly interactive, jaw-dropping funny, psychedelic, rockin' explosion of bright colors, synchronized sounds, and zany antics.

Entertaining for all ages, but best for kids 6+ and up.

They perform in the Astor Place Theatre at 434 Lafayette Street in the East Village, between Astor Place & East 4th Street.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

Find out about getting discount tickets to the show here.


M&Ms World

Conveniently located in Times Square, the M&M store is fun for both kids and grown-ups. It has 3 floors with every color of M&M you can imagine.

But the store is much more than just candy.

You can customize your M&Ms by personalizing them - choose a color, text, or even a picture and you've got your unique M&M. 

People will be able to select from an array of clip art images, including the “Big Apple,” “I Love NY,” and the Statue of Liberty, as well as the New York Giants, New York Jets, New York Yankees, and New York Mets logos, among others. 

It is located at the corner of Broadway and 48th Street in the heart of Times Square and is open till at least midnight every night. Check their holiday hours on their website.


Go Bowling

There's plenty more fun to be had in Times Square at Bowlero Times Square.

With 48 bowling lanes, there's room for the whole family at this Midtown Manhattan bowling alley.

There's also a huge arcade with old and new games, like Jurassic Park Arcade and Mario Kart as well as classic pinball machines.

Bowlero Times Square

The menu is also kid-friendly, with wings, burgers, pizza, and more.

Note that Bowlero is 21+ on Fridays and Saturdays after 9 p.m.


ANNUAL NIGHT EVENTS BY MONTH

Click on the months of your choice below to be taken to individual posts focused on things to do for those months.

You may also find our post on choosing the best times to visit NYC helpful when planning your trip.


NIGHT ACTIVITIES INCLUDED IN TOURIST PASSES

As we mentioned above in the free things to do section, getting a tourist attraction discount pass can save you considerable money, especially when it comes to night activities.

Be sure to read our post comparing the different tourist discount passes.  

All passes include night attractions and activities, though some passes have more than others.

In general, tourist passes include at least a few, if not nearly all, of these Top Ten nighttime attractions that stay open daily until at least 9 or 10 pm, if not later.

  • Empire State Building
  • Top of the Rock
  • One World Observatory
  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum
  • Hop-On-Hop-Off Buses
  • Boat Cruises
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not
  • Spyscape Spy Museum
  • National Geographic Ocean Odyssey 

For those who prefer museum night hours, most passes include entrance to:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art Fridays & Saturdays until 9 pm
  • Whitney Museum of American Art  Fridays & Saturdays until 10 pm 

Keep in mind, these are just the top 10.

Tourist passes include plenty of other night activities, such as popular attractions, walking tours, food tours, and entrance to museums that stay open late once a week.

Many passes also offer discounts to theater and comedy shows, meals, and more. 

To find out about tourist passes and to decide if buying one is right for you, see our post, New York City Attraction Passes: Which One Is the Best to Buy?


RELATED POSTS:

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: Januar 12th, 2024
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