Searching for things to do in New York Times Square in 2024? Full of people, colorful characters, shops, and bright lights, the heart of Manhattan’s Midtown never sleeps. Let’s be honest: don’t expect an off-the-beaten-path guide for Times Square. Everything you will do in this worldwide entertainment and business hub is (and should be) touristy.
Prepare to experience new levels of sensory overload the first time you set foot in Times Square. Being surrounded by a massive jungle of skyscrapers will make you feel insignificant, while the gigantic billboards are enough to turn night into day. Even though the area was notorious for its crime rate back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it is now a safe destination that you should not miss while in Manhattan. In this article, we have prepared a handy list of the best things to do in Times Square, complete with practical information and historical tidbits. Have fun!
Iconic Attractions in Times Square
Times Square, the “Crossroads of the World,” is home to many iconic attractions that draw millions of tourists each year. From world-renowned museums to immersive experiences, there’s something for everyone in this bustling neighborhood.
If you are a traveller from another country, be sure to purchase a Simify international SIM card before your trip to have seamless and high-speed data as soon as you land. You wouldn’t want to miss capturing moments and posting pictures online of this magnificent place.
Madame Tussauds New York
Step into a world of glamour and fame at Madame Tussauds New York, the ultimate celebrity experience in the heart of Times Square. This world-renowned wax museum offers visitors over 200 lifelike replicas of some of the most famous people in history. From Hollywood stars like Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt to music icons like Beyonce and Elvis Presley, there’s something for everyone at Madame Tussauds New York. The museum also features interactive exhibits, allowing you to fly alongside Iron Man or battle villains with Spider-Man in thrilling virtual reality experiences.
After you’ve crammed your smartphone with celeb selfies, it’s time to try out two immersive attractions unique to Madame Tussauds NYC. First, face off against a horde of zombies with your laser zapper in the new “Mission: Undead” experience. Once you’ve cleared the earth of undead scum, get ready to blast off with all your favorite Avengers characters in the spectacular Marvel Superheroes 4D film.
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
For an immersive ocean experience, head to the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. This one-of-a-kind attraction transports you to the heart of the Pacific Ocean, where you’ll come face-to-face with its most captivating inhabitants. Walk alongside a 60,000-square-foot digital cinematic display and marvel at the lifelike representations of giant squid, great white sharks, humpback whales, and many more. The journey doesn’t end underwater; there’s an “above-water” component with exhibits, displays, and lots of information about the animals.
Landlubbers who purchase tickets for this immersive experience can learn and greet some of the Pacific Ocean’s rarest creatures…all from the comforts of Times Square.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square
Explore the wild and weird world of Robert Ripley at Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square. This singular attraction houses dozens of exhibits with hundreds of artifacts and objects. From authentic shrunken heads to albino animals to miniature replicas of NYC landmarks, there’s a surprise at every turn. A particular favorite with kids is Ripley’s Relic exhibit, which challenges visitors to solve a series of riddles and puzzles to uncover the mystery of the elusive Relic.
One of the most unique things to do in New York City is to explore the fascinating miniature world of Gulliver’s Gate. Named after the titular character from Gulliver’s Travels, this attraction places you in the position of the giant, surveying tiny representations of cities and landmarks from around the globe. See the skyline of New York and Lady Liberty, as well as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the onion domes of Moscow, and many more.
These amazing minuscule creations were crafted by artists from around the globe, and put together in an endlessly entertaining series of exhibits. It’s a must-see in Times Square!
Sightseeing Tours In Times Square
Exploring Times Square can be an overwhelming experience due to its size and the sheer number of attractions. Luckily, there are several sightseeing tours that can help you navigate this bustling neighborhood and ensure you don’t miss out on any of its highlights.
Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Tours
One of the most popular ways to see Times Square and the rest of New York City is through a Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Tour. These double-decker buses offer a unique vantage point of the city, and the flexibility of these tours allows you to explore at your own pace.
You can hop off at any of the designated stops, which include major attractions like Times Square, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty, and then hop back on when you’re ready to continue your journey. The tours also come with a guide who provides insightful commentary about the city’s history and landmarks.
Broadway for Beginners Walking Tour
If you’re a theater enthusiast, the Broadway for Beginners Walking Tour is a must-do. This tour takes you through the heart of New York’s theater district, where you’ll learn about the history of Broadway and its iconic theaters. Your guide, usually a local actor, will share personal stories and insider information about the theater world, giving you a unique perspective on Broadway. You’ll also get to see where some of the most famous Broadway shows are staged, including “Hamilton” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”
The Ride NYC
For a sightseeing tour with a twist, check out The Ride NYC. This unique bus tour features a built-in theater with stadium seating and floor-to-ceiling windows, offering an immersive experience unlike any other.
As you cruise around Times Square and other parts of the city, you’ll enjoy live performances from street performers and humorous commentary from your hosts. The Ride NYC also takes you past some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and the Empire State Building, allowing you to see the city from a whole new perspective.
Entertainment in Times Square
Times Square is the entertainment capital of New York City, offering a wide array of experiences that cater to every taste. From live music performances to late-night television shows, there’s never a dull moment in this vibrant neighborhood.
Live Music Performances
Times Square is a hub for live music, with numerous venues hosting performances from a variety of genres. For a taste of Latin jazz, head to Victor’s Cafe, where you can enjoy live performances from the Son de Cuba Band while sipping on a classic mojito. If you’re a fan of rock and roll, BB King Blues Club & Grill is a must-visit, hosting performances from legendary musicians and up-and-coming artists alike.
Virtual Reality Arcades
For a futuristic entertainment experience, visit one of the many virtual reality arcades in Times Square. These cutting-edge venues offer a range of immersive experiences, from exploring alien worlds to battling zombies. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or new to virtual reality, these arcades offer a unique and exciting way to spend an afternoon or evening.
Get Those Free Screening Tickets
Do you feel lucky? If so, try snagging a few free tickets to a live TV broadcast before travelling to NYC. Be forewarned: every TV show has very different protocols concerning how to get into their studio audience. Although it might be a pain to get in, it’s well worth the effort.
One of the top shows people want to get tickets for is the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. To put your name on Jimmy Fallon’s list, you’ll have to visit this website and create an account. Typically Fallon releases tickets one month ahead of time, so you can keep submitting until you get your seats.
Another favourite show taped in NYC is Saturday Night Live. To try your luck at getting these tickets, send a message with all your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org during the month of August. If you win tickets, then you’ll be notified by email. Alternatively, you could get in line at 48th Street by 30 Rockefeller Plaza to try and get standby tickets. These tickets are given out on a first-come-first-serve basis at 7 AM on the morning of the screening…so you’ll need to get up mighty early to try your hand at getting these tickets.
Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows
No visit to Times Square would be complete without seeing a Broadway show. Home to over 40 theaters, the Broadway district offers a wide range of performances, from long-running classics like “The Phantom of the Opera” to new hits like “Hamilton.” If you’re looking for something a bit different, consider an Off-Broadway show. These productions, held in smaller theaters, often offer more experimental and intimate performances.
Radio City Music Hall
Located just a short walk from Times Square, Radio City Music Hall is one of the most iconic entertainment venues in the world. Known as the “Showplace of the Nation,” this Art Deco masterpiece hosts a variety of performances, from concerts by world-renowned musicians to spectacular stage shows like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Whether you’re catching a show or taking a behind-the-scenes tour, a visit to Radio City Music Hall is a must for any entertainment lover.
Things to Do in Times Square
Home to a weird bunch of street performers, CD hustlers, chain restaurants and the Naked Cowboy, Times Square certainly has a unique vibe. Although it’s easier said than done, try not to look like a tourist unless you want to alert every pickpocket in a 2-mile radius. We’ve already shared a guide of the non-touristy things to do in NYC, so if you want to experience the hidden layers of the city, check it out.
Try to get used to the buzz
When you first visit Times Square, it is easy to get absorbed by the constant influx of people, the bright billboards, and the street performers who can do just about anything to separate you from your money. Believe it or not, the city of New York decided that things were plenty chaotic as it is, so in 2016, they implemented a system of designated zones for tourists, performers, and passers-by. You can check out their cheat sheet here.
For The Chocoholics: Visit M&M and Hershey’s
Got a craving for something sweet? Not worried about cavities? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! Time Square is home to two colossal candy “worlds” located right next to each other: M&M’s World and Hershey’s Chocolate World. What more could a chocoholic ask for?
These delicious stores have all the chocolatey goodness your heart desires. If you’re lucky, you might be visiting on a day when there are free samples! These locations also offer ways for guests to personalize their candy using fantastic technology.
Plan to spend at least 30 minutes touring these spectacularly sugary stores. To get to Hershey’s and M&M’s World, travel to the 49th Street metro.
Let Out Your Inner Fast Foodie
The French have haute cuisine, Italians have olive oil and parmesan, but Americans have hamburgers. That’s just the way it is. So, if you’re in Times Square, you’re bound to run across some of America’s greatest fast-food joints. No matter how much bad press gets out there about fast food, people still buy it. Do you know why? Because it’s tasty! Indulge your urges for a big ol’ cheeseburger and a zesty Coke. Don’t worry; we won’t tell your cardiologist.
Of course, there’s the iconic McDonald’s at 220 W 42nd Street, but there are also a few “fast casual” restaurants that offer a bit more bang for your buck. Undoubtedly, the most beloved burger chain recently founded in NYC is Shake Shack at 691 8th Avenue. Other highly-reviewed low-budget eateries by Times Square include Los Tacos No. 1 at 229 W 43rd St, Gotham Pizza at 852 8th Ave and Toasties at 148 W 49th St.
Become A MoMA Snob
Art lovers should not miss the chance to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), located just a short walk from Times Square. Known as one of the most influential modern art museums in the world, MoMA houses an extensive collection of works from artists like Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol. The museum also hosts a variety of exhibitions, film screenings, and educational programs.
Not an art buff? Trust us, and you’ll be surprised by how many paintings you recognise on your tour of MoMA. You’ve most likely seen Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and those crazy drip-drop paintings by Pollock in art class…so why not check them out in person?
Stuff Your Face At Dave and Buster’s
What better way to have fun with the kids on your NYC trip than stopping by Dave and Buster’s for games and grub? Located a stone’s throw from Madame Tussauds, Dave and Buster’s is the perfect family-friendly way to feed your family’s tummies and enchant their eyes.
Typically this Dave & Buster’s location is open from 4 PM – 7:30 AM on Mondays through Fridays and from 10 PM till midnight on Sundays. Check on the NYC Dave & Buster’s official webpage to find out what special events and happy hour deals are going on here.
Let Your Hair Down In Bryant Park
Times Square isn’t exactly a “chill” location, but you could take a break from the frenzied pace of Manhattan in Bryant Park. Conveniently located by the 42 St-Bryant Park Subway Station, this four-acre park has a uniquely French-feel with its statues, carousel, cafés, and pétanque lawns.
Bryant Park hosts many free events throughout the year, but the most famous include summer movie screenings and the Christmas market with a skating rink. Anyone visiting Bryant Park between April and September should also check out the area’s lovely farmers’ market.
By the way, Bryant Park is directly behind the New York Public Library, so be sure to stop in and check out any special exhibits.
Sample A World Of Flavors At Restaurant Row
Few places on earth have a foodie scene as electrifying like NYC. It’s often difficult for first-time visitors to choose where to dine, but a good place to begin your foodie hunt is on “Restaurant Row.”
Located on W 46th Street between 8th and 9th Ave, this tiny block has a history of serving hungry New Yorkers for at least 90 years. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of old, family-run eateries side-by-side with ultra-modern establishments. No matter your taste or your budget, you should see something that fits the bill on a trip to Restaurant Row.
Rockefeller Center Tour
While you’re at Rockefeller Center for the Top of the Rock, consider taking a tour of the center itself. This iconic complex is home to numerous attractions, including the NBC Studios, Radio City Music Hall, and a variety of shops and restaurants. The guided tour will take you through the center’s most significant sites and provide you with a wealth of information about its history and architecture.
Things To Do In New York Times Square: Conclusion
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Times Square and its surrounding areas offer a wealth of experiences that will captivate and inspire. So take a stroll down Broadway, catch a show, savor a slice of New York pizza, and let the city’s energy and spirit sweep you off your feet. There’s no place quite like Times Square, and there’s no better place to experience the magic of New York City.
Born and raised amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, I’ve witnessed the city’s many exciting phases. When I’m not exploring the city or penning down my thoughts, you can find me sipping on a cup of coffee at my favorite local café, playing chess or planning my next trip. For the last twelve years, I’ve been living in South Williamsburg with my partner Berenike.