For me, no visit to NYC is complete without a visit to Times Square. Its bright lights and busy atmosphere make it a popular tourist spot. But what are the best things to do in Times Square?
Time Square is one of the best things to do in New York City and should be on your itinerary for your NYC trip. 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!
Getting to Times Square?
Times Square is not actually a square but four quarters created on the intersection where 7th Avenue and Broadway meets Midtown Manhattan. However, most people refer the larger neighbourhood as Times Square, from 40TH st. to 52nd St. and 8th Ave to 6th Ave.
There are many subway stations that will get you to the neighbourhood.
For those catching the subway, you can get off at 42 Street Station, Rockefeller Ctr Station, 49 Street Station and 50 Street Station.
The hop-on-hop-off buses tend to start and end in this area too.
Best Things To Do In Times Square
THE RIDE is a unique way to explore NYC. This is an interactive experience hosted by professional comedians who escort you around Manhattan on a side-facing bus. This is a 75-minute trip and expects to see Grand Central Terminal, Central Park, New York Public Library, and more.
Pose with your favorite 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, and 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.
RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
Located next door to Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s museum holds more than 500 real artifacts along with interactive experiences, photo opportunities, 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.
There are many bars and lounges around Times Square, allowing you to take in the lights and unwind. Many bars offer rooftop lounges, giving you spectacular views of the NYC skyline.
The best rooftop bar in Times Square is undoubtedly St Cloud with its colorful cocktails and unique Sky Pods offering views in all directions.
MEET YOUR FAVOURITE CARTOON CHARACTER
Whether it’s Captain America or the Statue of Liberty or 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
Whilst 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 traveling with family, there are some great choices such as The Lion King, STOMP, Aladdin 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 laser security systems and immersive themes.
The rooms are 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, circus 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 ideal 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.
HOP-ON HOP-OFF SIGHTSEEING TOUR
If you are short on time, we highly recommend a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. These buses start and end in Times Square but will drive you past major landmarks and neighborhoods such as Madison Square Gardens, Chinatown, Broadway, Empire State Building, and more.
HEAD TO COMEDY CLUB
Check on Groupon for deals at one of the Comedy Clubs in Times Square. Broadway Comedy Club on West 53rd Street shows headline performances throughout the year whilst the LOL Times Square Club is more casual. Carolines is a legendary comedy club with famous comedians like Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld started their careers.
Midtown Comics is a fun comic book and toy store that is open to late and a fun way to spend some time in NYC. You will find new releases along with vintage issues in this colorful store.
The store is open from 8am to midnight on Monday to Saturday then Noon to 8pm on Sundays.
Free things to do in Times Square
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.
Every evening, at 11.57pm, you can watch the midnight moment – the world’s largest digital art exhibition comprised of the huge Time Square billboards synchronizing to create whimsical images.
There is a different art display theme each month.
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 be requested on the website for the Late Show.
SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR
Download the Free Tours By Foot app to explore Times Square in your own time. The app doesn’t offer audio but it does talk you though the important buildings and places in Tims Square, giving detailed descriptions of the history and significance of Time Square attractions.
Things To Do In Times Square With Kids
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 colorful and fun, with a premium bar and creative cocktails available.
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!
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 $$$$
WHERE TO EAT IN TIMES SQUARE?
Times Square has some great restaurants to visit. Hakkasan is a firm favorite, 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 at your table! (think Glee!!)
BEST RESTAURANTS IN TIME SQUARE
Cheap eats in Times Square
Cheap options ($5 – $10)
- Shake shake – Counter service for burgers
- Chipotle – Fast-food Mexican chain restaurant with some space to sit
- Maoz Falafel & Grill – Middle Easter vegetarian restaurant 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 restaurants in Times Square
- 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 restaurants in Times Square
- 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 46th Street, 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.
Things to do Near Times Square
Located just one block from Times Square, Bryant Park is a calming green oasis in the heart of Manhattan. There are activities here throughout the year, live music, board games and ping-pong tables but also an open library, allowing you to take a book and read during your ‘chill-out in the park’ time.
The park is between 40th and 42nd Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues.
TOP OF THE ROCK OBSERVATORY
Head to the top of Rockefeller Center to enjoy panoramic, uninterrupted views of New York City. The famous building is under a 5 minute walk from Times Square and we recommend heading here for sunset.
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
MoMA is a stand out art museum in New York City. They have a vast collection of contemporary art from world-renowned artists. The museum is around a 12 minute walk or you can catch subway line F, R or E.
What is your favourite thing to do in Times Square? Let us know in the comments!