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24 Things to Do in Times Square

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Times Square is a destination for just about every visitor to New York. There are countless fun things to do in Times Square and below we list 22 of them!

We also share our choices for the best places to eat in and around Times Square as well as places to shop.

If you are planning on going to the Theater District, we have some tips on how to get discounted tickets for Broadway shows.

TIP: Many popular attractions in or near Times Square, such as Top of the Rock and Madame Tussauds are included for free with all of the tourist discount passes as well as hop-on-hop-off bus ticket packages.

Read our post comparing all the passes available to you.


Where Is Times Square?

Times Square is not a square. What is technically Times Square is the four quarters created where 7th Ave. and Broadway intersect in Midtown Manhattan.

However, most New Yorkers refer to the larger neighborhood as Times Square, which stretches north to south from 40th St. to roughly 52nd St. and east to west from 8th Avenue to 6th Avenue.

Where is Times Square

Times Square is easily accessible by multiple subway lines that each stop at a different subway station.

By Subway:

  • A/C/E to 42 Street Station
  • F/M/B/D to 47-50 Sts - Rockefeller Ctr Station
  • N/WR to 49 Street Station
  • 1 to 50 Street Station
  • C/E to 50 Street Station
  • 1/2/3/7/S to Times Sq - 42 Street Station

Use this Google map to get exact directions from your starting point to Times Square.

If you are new to NYC public transportation, check out our guides on navigating the subway and choosing the right MetroCard

By Bus:

  • Uptown/Downtown: M5, M7, M104, M20
  • Crosstown: M42, M50

If you are considering a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of NYC, most buses stop in Times Square so just hop off and explore the area!

New York Bus Tours

Top Things to Do in Times Square 

Here are just some of the great things you can do in and around Times Square, day or night.

We list some others in our post on Times Square at night.


1. Soak in the Amazing New York City Energy

Times Square is one of the best places to absorb the incredible energy of NYC.

Grab a seat on the famous red TKTS steps and watch the world rush by in Times Square!

Money-saving tip: TKTS is one place you can buy discount Broadway tickets. We list more just below.

Times Square at Night

The buzz is even more when the sun sets and the lights shine so brightly.

Visiting Times Square after dark is one of the most exciting things to do at night in NYC.


2. See a Broadway Show

It's hard to imagine Times Square without all its Broadway show theaters, with their brightly-lit marquees.

If you want to see a show but are concerned about the cost of tickets don't be.

You can find discounted tickets if you know where to look.

Our post, How to Get Discount Broadway Tickets, lists the many ways you can save big on shows.

Some ways are to try for Rush Tickets, enter a ticket Lottery, and head to the TKTS Ticket Booth located under the red staircase at 47th Street and Broadway. 

Find out which are the best Broadway shows to see right now.


3. Experience the Midnight Moment

Every night from 11:57 pm to midnight, you can witness the world’s largest digital art exhibition.

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

Just walk up the red steps, take a seat, and watch the show.

You may be wondering, "Is Times Square safe at night?"

For the most part yes. There is a good police presence in the area. Still, always pay attention to your surroundings and use your common sense.

Check out our post on staying safe in New York City.


4. Hug a Beloved Cartoon Character

Say hello to Buzz Lightyear, hug Elmo, and say thanks to superheroes, like Spiderman, who keep NYC safe!

Some other favorite characters are there as well like Hello Kitty, Minnie Mouse, Dora the Explorer, and more.

Times Square Cartoon Mascots

Keep in mind that these performers are not working for the city. They work only for tips.

If you want a photograph with one of them, be sure to tip. Otherwise, you may find yourself face-to-face with a disgruntled Cookie Monster.

If you want to avoid the touristy aspect of Times Square, steer clear of anyone in a costume.


5. See Your Favorite Celebrities

Stop by Madame Tussauds to see your favorite stars -- in wax, that is!

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

The Marvel Super Hero 4D ultra-sensory superhero film is fantastic. (Superhero fans, take a look at our free self-guided tour to Superhero in NYC.)

Madame Tussauds is at 234 W. 42nd St between 7th and 8th Avenue. Find out about discount tickets for Madame Tussauds.

Money-saving tipThis attraction is included free with the purchase of most NYC tourist discount passes as well as several bus company combo tickets.

New York Tourist Discount Passes

6. Hear a Gospel Choir

No need to travel to Harlem for a great Gospel Service when you can hear some of this inspirational music in Times Square.

The Times Square Church is a lesser-known church that happens to have a fantastic choir.

It's located at 237 W. 51st Street at the corner of Broadway. 


NYC Travel Tips & Hacks Facebook Group

7. See the Naked Cowboy

This infamous Times Square entertainer is dressed in only tighty-whities that cover his private parts, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat.

Naked Cowboy in Times Square

His name is Robert John Burck and you find him in the area playing country tunes on a guitar and posing for photos with people.

For the story of how this simple dude from California became a New York icon, see our post about the Naked Cowboy.


New York Walking Tours

8. Relax at a Rooftop Bar

Times Square has some awesome rooftop bars and lounges where you sip on cocktails and take in great views of the lights on Broadway.

Many of these are inside hotels, but you don't need to be a guest to enjoy their rooftops.

Check out the St. Cloud rooftop at the famed Knickerbocker Hotel, one of several landmarks in Times Square.

view from St Cloud Bar

Some others are:

If you want to skip the drink and enjoy a spectacular view, see our post, Best New York Skyline Views.


9. Attend a Live Taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

NYC has lots of free TV tapings, including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The show taping goes from around 5:30 pm to 7 pm. For information on how to get tickets, click here.

Taping takes place in this historic Ed Sullivan Theater built in the 1920s. This is where The Beatles made their breakthrough performance.

The theater is on Broadway between W. 53rd and W. 54th Streets.

And it's not just Colbert. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon films just a few blocks away at the NBC Studios in Rockefeller Plaza.

The same goes for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, which is filmed a few blocks to the west of Times Square.


Podcast Episode: Listen to tour guides Lori and Katherine discuss things to do in and around Times Square 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 podcasts on AppleGoogle, or wherever you get your podcasts.


10. Be a Kid in a Candy Shop

Chocolate lovers, Times Square is the place for you to satisfy your sweet tooth! 

Two of America's favorite candies have giant stores here, Hershey's Chocolate World and the M&M's World Store.

Hershey’s World has interactive games, free samples, and an opportunity to see chocolate being made!

Ma & M store

The M&M store of course sells all the varieties of candy that “melts in your mouth, not in your hand”. 

What’s better is that shoppers can customize a personal batch of M&M's with an image and personalized messages to be printed on candies in about two minutes.

For a great NYC souvenir, select the "I Love NY" logo for your customized M&Ms.

M&M's Store is at 1600 Broadway at W. 48th Street and Hershey’s Chocolate World is at 701 Seventh Avenue between W. 47th and W. 48th Streets.


11. Rock Out at the Hard Rock Cafe

Whether you are a rock ‘n’ roll die-hard or just looking for a cool environment for delicious food and drinks, the Hard Rock Cafe at Times Square will not disappoint.

Hard Rock Cafe

From the minute you walk past the wall of guitars, you’ll be surrounded by rock 'n' roll memorabilia from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Elvis Presley and many more.

The Hard Rock Cafe is at 1501 Broadway at W. 43rd Street.

Hard Rock fans may enjoy staying at the highly-rated Hard Rock Hotel nearby!


12. Play an Escape Room

Escape rooms feature hi-tech machines including laser security systems to recreate the environment of the theme you choose.

Omescape

OMEscape is great for groups of friends and families as well as some themes are appropriate for kids as well.

OMEscape is at 325 W. 38th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. It is open from 11 am to 11 pm every day. Book your escape room here.


13. Take the Kids to the New Victory Theater

The New Victory is New York City's first and only full-time performing arts theater for kids and families.

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

New Victory Theater

The New Victory is at 209 W. 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

If you are traveling with children, read our post What to Do with Kids in New York City.


14. See a Comedy Show

Carolines is a legendary comedy club is where performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, and Rosie O’Donnell got their start. 

Broadway Comedy Club features at least four nationally known headliners for a performance that lasts from 90 minutes to two hours.

Caolines

LOL Times Square is a casual comedy club that offers a variety of lineups and even has a family option since as we know, New York-style comedy can be a bit raunchy at times. 

Money-saving tip: Always check on Groupon for deals to comedy clubs and lots of other types of entertainment. 


15. Go Bowling

Bowlero Times Square has 48 bowling lanes, an arcade, billiards, and lounge areas. 

Its bowling lounges are themed and depict specific places and times in the history of NYC.

Bowlero

You can bowl, dine, and chill out in a ‘speakeasy’, Chinatown, Central Park, or Coney Island without leaving Times Square!

Bowlero is at 222 W. 44th St bet 8th Avenue and Broadway. It's open Sundays to Thursdays from 2:00 pm - 12:00 am and Fridays and Saturdays 2:00 pm - 2:00 am.


16. Celebrate New Year's Eve

If you happen to be in New York City on December 31, you can take part in the world-famous Times Square New Year's Eve festivities.

Before and after midnight there are star-studded musical performances and more than one ton of confetti is dropped onto Times Square!

Find out about watching the ball drop and how to spend New Year's Eve in Times Square.


17. Take a Horse and Carriage Ride

See Times Square from a unique vantage point -- from the seat of a horse-drawn carriage!

Horse and carriage rides aren't exclusive to Central Park.

Some rides have expanded itineraries that include Times Square. 

There is at least one tour that covers Times Square, Central Park and Rockefeller Center.


18. Browse the Colorful Midtown Comics Store

Midtown Comics is a humongous comic book and toy marketplace! 

This colorful store is fun to visit even if you aren't a huge comics fan.

Midtown Comics

Comic book lovers can buy new releases and find vintage issues. They also sell graphic novels, sci-fi books, and collectibles.

Midtown Comics is at 200 W. 40th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

They have two other locations, one by Grand Central Terminal at 459 Lexington Avenue (corner of 45th St.) and the other in Lower Manhattan at 64 Fulton Street (corner of Gold St.).


19. Hear Live Music at the Historic Town Hall

Town Hall's auditorium opened in 1921 and was intended as a space for political dialogue, lectures, and speech-making. 

It soon morphed into a music venue and today it is one of NYC’s very best places to see a concert. 

The venue is a historic landmark known for its beautiful Georgian Revival design.

Town Hall

Its architects, the renowned firm of McKim, Mead & White also designed part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Washington Arch in Washington Square Park, among others.

Town Hall is on 123 West 43rd Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue.


20. Shop for All Things Disney

At 1540 Broadway at W. 45th Street, is the huge Disney Store.

Here you can find the latest official Disney merchandise, such as Disney toys, collectibles, stuffed animals, and more.

You can shop for Disney clothing for kids and adults.

They also sell cosplay and costumes for Baby Yoda to Spider-Man, Captain America and Black Panther and other characters.

Disnet Store

The Disney store stays open late (until 9 pm seven days a week) as do many Times Square shops.

Don't let the time curtail your retail therapy!

See our list of where to go shopping in Times Square below.

See our favorite shops below.


21. Play Arcade Games

The national chain, Dave and Busters, has a location in Times Square that is part arcade, part sports bar, and part restaurant.

Dave and Busters

Enjoy American food, signature cocktails, and loads of games. 

You can also catch your favorite sporting event on massive HDTVs with stadium-quality surround sound. 


22. See an Off-Broadway Show

One of the most underrated things to do in Times Square is to see an Off-Broadway show.

What distinguishes Broadway from Off-Broadway theaters is just how many seats in the theater. 

Five hundred seats and up gets you the Broadway billing. Theaters with houses between 99 and 499 seats are Off-Broadway.

Kink Boots

Don't let the categorization make you think these shows are of lesser quality than a Broadway shows.

On the contrary, some Off-Broadway shows can be every bit as good as a Broadway production and less expensive too!

Off-Broadway shows to see now are Kinky Boots, coming back after a successful run, and the ever-popular Little Shop of Horrors.


23. Experience the Story of Broadway

The Museum of Broadway opened in November 2022. Its mission is to convey Broadway’s story through immersive exhibits to engage audiences.

The museum is geared toward being educational but also entertaining. It’s suitable for all ages.

Museum of Broadway

The museum is open every day from 10 am to 10 pm and will make an excellent add-on to your night at the theater!

Timed tickets are $39 and Flexible tickets are $49. The Museum of Broadway is at 145 West 45th Street.


24. Dine on Restaurant Row

Restaurant Row (West 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue) has over 20 long-time restaurants that cater to Broadway showgoers who want to dine just before heading to the theater.

Most restaurants on Restaurant Row offer pre-theater prix-fixe menus at reasonable prices and are timed to get you to your show on time.

Here are a few of the best deals:

  • Becco Founded by celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich, has a daily pasta-tasting menu that’s innovative and filling. Their tasting menu is priced at $18.95 for lunch and an amazing $22.95 for dinner.
  • Le Rivage  For theatergoers, you can get a pre-theater menu for  $39 between 3 pm to 7:30 pm  If you come after 7:30 pm it's an even better deal. Prix fixe dinner is $29!
  • Hourglass Tavern Prix-Fixe pre-theater dinner is 4-8 pm for just $23.95 with soup or salad, entrée, and a choice of dessert.

Read here for more Restaurant Row listings.


Nearby Attractions

All these iconic New York City sights are within walking distance of Times Square.


Rockefeller Center

This art deco city within a city is three full city blocks from 48th Street to 51st Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

It's well known for its giant Christmas tree and ice skating rink.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

But there is so much more to Rockefeller Center - its fascinating history and its striking artwork, sculptures, and architecture.

Read more about visiting Rockefeller Center.


Skyscraper Observation Decks

There are five observation decks in NYC and three of them are within walking distance from Times Square.

The closest is the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.

Read our post comparing New York City's observation decks to see which is the best one for you.


Grand Central Terminal

Within four blocks of Times Square is one of the most beautiful landmarks in all of New York City, Grand Central Terminal (a.k.a. Grand Central Station).

grand central terminal tour

You can visit on your own, or one of the different free tours offered. Read more here.


Bryant Park

Located just one block from Times Square is Bryant Park, a large oasis of green in the heart of Midtown.

There are tons of fantastic (free!) things to do there all year round.

Read our post on things to do in Bryant Park to find out what's going on when you are in town.


New York Public Library

Just next to Bryant Park is the Beaux-Arts masterpiece, the New York Public Library's main branch building.

New York Public Library

You can take free tours of the inside to see its cavernous, elegant reading rooms and its ceiling murals.

Of course, you can see historic books and manuscripts as well. Find out more here.


Museum of Modern Art

A few blocks north of Times Square is one of the best modern art museums in the world, the Museum of Modern Art.

If you are considering going to one of NYC's museums, MoMA should not be missed!


Where to Eat in Times Square

Times Square has so many dining options we recommend some of the best places below.

A highlight for 'one-stop shopping' is City Kitchen inside the ROW NYC hotel. It's a huge food market at 8th Ave. and 44th Street.

Food choices include affordable burgers, sushi, ramen noodles, tacos,  and middle-eastern food.

Save room for dessert and get one of the best doughnuts in NYC at Dough.


Here are other options:

Cheap ($5-10 per person)

  • Maoz Falafel & Grill   558 7th Ave at 40th St.  Middle Eastern veggie fare, pita sandwiches, and salads.
  • Shakeshack  691 8th Ave at 44th St.  Counter service at this location of a small chain of the best burgers in the city.
  • Chipotle  129 W 48th St bet. 6th & 7th Aves. Fast-food Mexican chain with space to sit down.
  • Patzeria Pizza 231 W 46th St. bet. 7th Ave. & Broadway.  Real New York pizza by the slice. To go only. 

Inexpensive ($10-20 per person)

  • Schnippers 20 8th Ave bet. 40th & 41st Sts.  American diner classics, sandwiches, soups and salads. 
  • Piccolo Cafe  274 W 40th St at 8th Ave.  Breakfast, Paninis, and Salads, in this cozy, counter service.
  • Pongsri Thai  274 W 40th St at 8th Ave.  Authentic Thai food, noodle dishes, vegetables, and meat entrees. 
  • Times Square Diner  807 8th Ave bet. 48th & 49th Sts. Hundreds of choices served 24 hours a day.

Moderate ($20-40 per person)

  • Toloache  251 W 50th St bet 8th Ave. & Broadway   Festive environment with traditional Mexican food.
  • John's Pizzeria  260 West 44th St bet. 7th & 8th Aves.  Great coal-oven pizza. Served by the pie only. Fun for families.
  • Carmine's 200 West 44th St bet. 7th & 8th Aves.  Italian-American cuisine in large family-style portions.
  • Virgil's 152 West 44th St. bet. Broadway and 6th Ave. Huge portions of savory barbeque. Reservations recommended.

Expensive ($50 and above per person)

  • Hunt & Fish Club  125 W 44th St. bet Broadway & 7th Ave.  New American, Steakhouse. Elegant decor, delicious food.
  • Aureole  135 W 42nd St bet. 6th Ave & Broadway  New American cuisine emphasizing traditional dishes with unique twists. 
  • Sushi by Bou  1 32 W 47th St bet. 7th Ave & 6th Ave. Incredible, super fresh sushi served in a 'speakeasy-style basement hideaway.

Where to Shop in Times Square

Stores in Times Square stay open quite late. Most are open until 10 pm, and many are open until midnight!

Clothing (Unisex)

  • H&M - 4 Times Sq at W 42nd St.
  • Superdry - 729 7th Ave at W 49th St.
  • ASICS - 120 W 42nd St b/t 5th & 6th Ave.
  • Gap - 1466 Broadway at W 42nd St.
  • American Eagle Outfitters -  1551-1555 Broadway at W 46th St.
  • NHL Store Powered by Reebok - 1185 6th Ave. bet W 46th & W 47th sts.
  • Forever 21 Mega Store - 1540 Broadway b/t W 45th & 46th St
  • Levi's Times Square - 1501 Broadway
  • Old Navy 1514 Broadway at W 45th

Make-Up

  • M.A.C. Cosmetics -  1540 Broadway
  • Sephora - 200 W 42nd St at 7th Avenue and also 1500 44th St at Broadway
  • Inglot  - 1592 Broadway at W 48th St.

Times Square shops that kids love:

  • M&M's World - 1600 Broadway at 48th Street
  • Disney Store - 1540 Broadway bet. W 45th & 46th Sts
  • Midtown Comics - 200 West 40th Street near 7th Ave

Click here for even more shops in the area.


Where to Stay in Times Square

You’ll find a wide range of room prices and a variety of hotel styles. Some hotels have rooftop bars with great views.

While it is true that the neighborhood is not as pretty as others, it is a one-of-a-kind atmosphere! 

Below are the top picks for where to stay in Times Square.

And check out our post on how to choose the best place to stay in NYC.

Recommended Hotels

Budget 

Mid-Range 

Expensive 


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: February 2nd, 2023
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