For me, no visit to NYC is complete without a visit to Times Square. It’s bright lights and busy atmosphere make it a popular tourist spot. But what are the best things to do in Times Square?
We share the best things to in the famous square, including free things to do in Times Square and where to eat in Times Square.
P.S. Don’t forget to head over to Rockafeller to get some stunning views of the city or enjoy the Trolls Experience – perfect for visits with children!
Best things to do in Times Square
THE RIDE is a unique way to explore NYC. This is an interactive experince hosted by proffesional comedians who escore you around Manhattan on a side facing bus. This is a 75-minute trip and expect to see Grand Central Terminal, Central Park, New York Public Library and more.
Gulliver’s Gate is a 50,000 square foot exhibition centre that features miniutature models of cities, countries and iconic landmarks from around the world. The scenes are complete with moving cars, trains, plans and boats and you can even get a miniture 3D print of yourself too.
Book your tickets online for a discounted rate of $31 – this attraction is open from 10am to 8pm
Pose with your favourite celebrities wax model and get your own wax hand! This popular attraction is found on 42nd Street and includes wax figures of Barak Obama, Donald Trump, Helen Keller, the British Royal Family, Whoopi Goldberg, Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber; just to name a few. Head here in the evening for a quieter, more romantic experience.
Prices start at $37 and the attraction is open from 10am to 9pm most days.
Discovery Times Square
Discovery Times Square is a large scale exhibition center that homes the worlds best exhibitions. The Body Exhibition can often be found at Discovery and we loved seeing the Harry Potter Exhibition here!
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Located next door to Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s museum holds more than 500 real articfacts along with interactive experiences, photo opportunties, galleries and fun facts for the whole family to enjoy.
You can also get combo tickets to enjoy a bus or boat tour around the city too.
National Geographic Ocean Odyssey
Using photo-real animations on projects, accompanied with incredible sound effets, this experience trasnports you on an simulated ocean voyage. This activitiy is loved by families and adults alike; with the attraction staying open until 10.30pm each night and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
There are many bars and lounges around Times Square, allowing you to take in the lights and unwind. Many bars offer ropftop lounges, giving you spectacular views of the NYC skyline.
The best rooftop bar in Times Sqaure is undoubtedly St Cloud with their colourful cocktails and unique Sky Pods offering views in all directions.
Meet your favourite cartoon character
Whether it’s Captain America, the Statue of Liberty of Elmo, you will see many characters around Times Square. Stop and say Hi and take a photo if you wish, just remember to top these street performers.
See a Broadway show
Whist in NYC, a Broadway show is a must! We have been fortunate to see quite a few shows in New York and I always say the classics are better. BUT if travelling with family, there are some great choices such as The Lion King, STOMP, Aladding or Wicked.
TKTS Box Office is the number one place to buy discounted tickets for the top Broadway shows. Ticketmaster is also perfect if you have a specific show that you must see. This Box Office can be found in the heart of Times Square but head here early to beat the long queues.
Read our post to find out the different ways to get tickets for Broadway!
Radio City Stage Door Tour
If you love the theatre then you will love this 75-minute Radio City Hall backstage tour, taking you behind the scenes of America’s most famous theatre. You can even get a photo taken with a famous Rockette.
Tickets are also included in the New York City Explorer Pass or can be booked online for $30.
OMEscape at Times Square
If you are visiting with family or friends, OMEscape is a fun group activity. These are hi-tech escape rooms complete with lazer security systems and immersive themes.
The rooms area available to book from 11am to 11pm every day and cost $31 per person.
The New Victory Theater
The New Victory Theater is NYC’s only full-time performing arts theatre for children. The shows are aimed at children from 1 1/2 to 12 years old. See the full calendar and book tickets if you are visiting with family; shows include plays, dance performances, circu acts, puppets and more.
Even if you haven’t got tickets, head to the theatre lobby to see the props from the current show or take part in one of the performance skill workshops.
Bowlmor Times Square
This 48-lane bowling alley is a great place to relax and unwind in the evenings. Complete with an arcade, billiards and different themed lounge areas, this is an idea place to chill out, dine and bowl.
Bowlmor Times Square is located at 222 W 44th St between 8th Avenue and Broadway, opening from 2pm to midnight each night of the week whilst staying open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Free things to do in Times Square
Every evening, at 11.57pm, you can watch the midnight moment – the word’s largest digital art exhibition comprised of the huge Time Square billboards syncronising to create whimsical images.
There is a different art display theme each month.
The Disney Store
For family’s or big kids, The Disney Store is an experience in itself. Check out your favourite characters and the detailed decor around the store. There are lots of things to do in NYC with kids and for a big kid like me, seeing the interactive areas of this store is definitely one of them!
Note to self: bring plenty of $$$$
Hear a Gospel choir
Head over to the Times Square Church at 234 West 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue, to watch a free, fun Gospel service. It is worth noting that these services last around 2 hours, with 60 minutes of the service praising. Services run throughout the day on a Sunday: 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 6pm.
Check the church’s website for more details.
See the Tonight Show
There are lots of free TV tapings in and around Times Square with the Tonight Show being one of them. The show tapes from around 5.30pm to 7pm and tickets can requested on the website for the Late Show.
Hershey’s Chocolate World
A great shop for chocolate lovers, head to Hershey’s. This store has lots of fun merchandise, with even the option to customize a chocolate bar. Make sure to try the free samples!
Dave & Busters
Eat, drink and play. Dave and Buster’s is a family-friendly chain bar and arcade, with lots of fun activities to try.
It is essentially a Sports Bar with traditional American food and hundreds of arcade games to choose from. The Time Square venue is colourful and fun, with a premium bar and creative cocktails available.
Where to eat in Times Square?
Times Square have some great restaurants to visit. Hakkasan is a firm favourite, serving Chinese food as well as the Red Lobster and Gallagher’s Steak House for delicious seafood and a hearty steak. The Wasabi Sushi & Bento is perfect for a Japanese fix and Ellen’s Stardust Diner is one of the most popular and fun restaurants with theatre students and actors singing whilst they wait on your table! (think Glee!!)
Time Square restaurants guide:
Cheap options ($5 – $10)
- Shakeshake – Counter service for burgers
- Chipotle – Fast-food Meican chain restaurant with some space to sit
- Maoz Falafel & Grill – Middle Easter vegetarian restaraunt with salads and sandwiches
- Patzeria Pizza – NYC Pizza to go; pay by the slice
- Xi’an Famous Foods – Fresh handmade noodles and stewed pork burgers
Affordable options ($10-$20)
- Piccolo Cafe – Counter service for breakfast items as well as salads and paninis
- Times Square Diner – Endless food options, open 24 hours a day
- Pongsri Thai – Authentic Thai food at affordable prices
Moderate options ($20-$40)
- John’s Pizzeria – Coal-oven pizza pies; known as the best in NYC
- Carmine’s – Italian-American styled family portioned meals
- Virgil’s – Best barbeque meals in the neighbourhood
- Sake Bar Hagi – A Japanese eatery for the young and cool
Pre-theatre Prix-Fixe menus – On West 46t Strett, between 8th and 9th Avenure, is restaurant row. This is a block of around 20 restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisines. They also offer pre-theatre set menus at decent prices and are timed so that you don’t miss your performance. Make sure you book ahead and check out some of the best restaurants such as Hourglass Tavern and Becco.