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This post covers things to do at night in NYC, updated for 2020 and includes free, family-friendly options as well as activities that are included in most tourist passes.
For even more ideas, check out our master post for things to do in New York City.
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.
Seeing a Broadway show is a great way to spend an evening. There are too many shows to list here, so see what’s playing when you are in town.
Some popular shows include:
There are dozens of musicals, plays and other shows to choose from.
Click here to find out what’s playing while you are in town.
New York City gets all the biggest names in music rolling into town, with a few resident performers like Billy Joel.
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.
What could be more magical than a 360-degree view of New York City glittering at night? The top three city’s skyscraper observation decks open at night are:
All three are included for free on at least a few of the tourist discount passes.
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.
New York City is home to some of the best sports teams. All year round you can attend a sports event at night.
Tennis comes to town with the Grand Slam tournament the U.S. Open in late August through early September.
We offer a number of night tours from March until November. View our current schedule.
In December, we offer a New York Holiday Lights Tour.
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 is the 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 tours options available in NYC.
Several options are offered for free as part of tourist discount passes or combination tickets.
Be sure to check out our comparison of all the night bus tours for more info.
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 tourist discount passes.
Be sure to read our night boat tour comparison post.
For those on a budget, try the Staten Island Ferry for a totally free night ride. See below for more information on this incredible ride.
In NYC, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat some of the world’s tastiest foods. There are simply just too many great restaurants to list.
Instead, we list our posts with recommendations as well as other sources we use to find the best food, at the best prices.
You can’t go wrong if you check out any of these websites. They are tried, and true, and best of all, tasty! Here are our recommendations by neighborhood.
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:
In addition to the observation decks, many of the top NYC other popular attractions also stay open late.
Avoid crowds, sightsee in the day and fill up your evenings with a late-night visit to places like:
See our full list of late-night attractions here.
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.
Ice Skating – From November through March, most NYC parks host ice skating rinks that are open after dark.
OK. Admittedly purchasing a tourist discount pass isn’t free, in fact, these passes can 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.
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.
Below are some suggestions on how to spend your evening in NYC for free.
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, 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 Tuesday, 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
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.
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
The High Line is one of the most unusual city parks, built on an abandoned elevated railroad.
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, and you will feel like you have much of the park to yourself.
The park has late hours most of the year.
TIP: If you walk the High Line, stop by the Chelsea Market that 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).
Attend a TV show taping
Totally free, totally fun! Being in the studio audience of one of your favorite shows is possible.
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 performed 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.
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
From its massive celestial ceiling to its secret ‘whispering gallery’, there is no train station “terminal” like it in the world.
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.
Enjoy a Free Skyline View
Going to the top of the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock may be must do’s 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, Queens, NJ as well as from the air and on water.
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
Of course, we would love to have you join us on our daytime pay-what-you-wish walking tours, 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.
Here are some neighborhoods that are fitting for an evening or nighttime visit.
Ride the free Staten Island Ferry
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 (kid-friendly)
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, NYU students filming a short film – anything goes in Washington Square Park at night.
Use our Greenwich Village Neighborhood Guide to find out how to navigate the neighborhood and where to find the fun.
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 pm (22:00) or beyond!
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 superheroes film and the popular Ghostbusters Virtual Reality Experience.
Madame Tussauds is open until 10 pm (22:00) on weekdays and midnight on weekends. See our blog post for all the details.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
If you are in the mood for the odd and unusual, Ripley’s is for you. More than 500 real artifacts, wildly fun interactive experiences, and twenty themed galleries of strange and fascinating things in this interactive museum.
For all the details on prices, hours and how to find discounts and deals on tickets, click here.
Ripley’s also has Extreme Sleepovers. These sleepovers are suggested for ages 6-17 and their chaperones.
Admission to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Outrageous Scavenger Hunt, an evening full of activities, Dinner, Snacks, and Breakfast, and a Goodie Bag including a Souvenir Guide Book & Group Photo!
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.
The last slot you can reserve is 11:30 pm, so you will be out after midnight — provided you can escape!
National Geographic Ocean Odyssey
Take a deep dive into the ocean right in Times Square. Using photo-real animation with giant projection screens and immersive sound, your simulated ocean voyage will feel real.
This fun, interactive exhibit is both perfect for families and night owls since it is open late (until 10:30 pm Sunday-Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays).
This massive exhibition of a miniature world is open until 8 pm (20:00) 7 days a week.
The 50,000 sq. ft. (4700 sq. m) exhibition space has incredibly detailed miniature models of cities and countries of the world with iconic sites from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
You can see a wee Buckingham Palace, a mini Grand Central, and a tiny Taj Mahal. They even have moving cars, trains, planes, and boats!
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 are a pop-up planetarium show and unlimited rides in a flight simulator. Dinner, Breakfast, and snacks are included.
Sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History
This very popular and unique event gives children and their accompanying adult 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, its 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 getting there and things to see and do.
Chinatown and Little Italy
These adjacent neighborhoods are almost on in 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, the streets are filled with locals and tourists alike, dining out or doing some night time 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.
This 10,000 square foot store in Rockefeller Center has both merchandise and loads of Nintendo games available to play.
Check their calendar 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.
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.
Find out about getting discount tickets to the show here.
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 the – 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,” the Statue of Liberty, as well as the New York Giants, New York Jets, New York Yankees, and New York Mets logos, among others.
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.
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.
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.