Searching for things to do in Times Square? 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. Just about 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. 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!
Where to find Times Square
Times Square is more of an area rather than an actual square. When locals refer to Times Square, they most probably mean the area encompassing 40th – 52nd street (north to south) and 8th ave to 6th ave (east to west). The actual Times Square extends from 42nd to 47th Streets.
Reach it 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
Reach it by bus
- M7, M104, M20 uptown/downtown
- M5 uptown
- M42 crosstown both directions (touted as the city’s slowest bus route)
- M50 westbound
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 that 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.
Selfie Central: Madame Tussauds NYC
Madame Tussauds NYC is 85,000 square feet of fabulous fun. Opened in 2000, this impressive wax museum contains at least 200 meticulously carved figures of people ranging from Gandhi and Ben Franklin to Kylie Jenner and Meghan Markle. Most tourism experts recommend planning to spend at least 2 hours in Madame Tussauds to get the most out of your experience.
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.
Ticket prices range from $30 to $60 per person depending on what experiences you book and whether you book online or in person. Usually Madame Tussauds NYC is open between 9 AM – 10 PM, which makes it a great late night activity.
You’ll find Madame Tussauds at 234 W 42nd Street, which is within walking distance of the 42nd St.-Port Authority Subway Station. If you need more info, please check out this official webpage.
For The Chocoholics: Visit M&Ms 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! Both of these locations also offer ways for guests to personalise 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, just 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. You know why? Because it’s tasty! Go ahead an 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. Without a doubt, the most beloved burger chain recently founded in NYC is Shake Shack at 691 8th Avenue. A few 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
Even pretentious Parisians with their fancy-pants Pompidou have to admit New York’s Museum of Modern Art(MoMA) is pretty spectacular. In addition to the roughly 150,000 paintings in its permanent collection, MoMA has thousands of films, photographs, and even a sculpture garden.
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?
Since MoMA is so popular, it’s best to reserve your tickets in advance and arrive as early as possible. Tickets for adults are $25 per person, but student and senior discounts apply. Usually, MoMA is open between 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM, but check online before your visit. MoMA is located at 11 W 53rd Street, which is close to the 5 Avenue/53 St station.
From 15th of June 2019, the MoMA will be closed for renovations until the fall. Learn more here.
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 email@example.com 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.
Here are links to official resources for getting tickets to a few other TV shows in NYC:
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Live with Kelly & Ryan
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.
Dive Into Scienc-y Stuff At Ocean Odyssey
Anyone who’s ever wanted to go snorkelling but didn’t want to get wet, listen up! National Geographic recently put together a hi-tech, interactive underwater experience known called Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. 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.
The National Geographic Encounter is about a 5-minute walk from the Times Square 42nd Street metro stop. Standard Ocean Odyssey tickets are about $40 per adult when purchased online.
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.
To learn more about the specific restaurants on this famous foodie block, check out Restaurant Row’s official website at https://www.restaurantrowtsq.nyc/.
Drink With The Locals At Jimmy’s Corner
Only a 5-minute walk north of the Times Square 42nd Street Subway Station is a little dive known as Jimmy’s Corner. Although it looks unassuming on the outside, this bar is one of the most inviting and affordable bars you’ll find near Times Square.
It’s worth your while to visit this bar just to check out all the fantastic boxing memorabilia strewn throughout the store. This is definitely the place to be if you want an authentic NYC bar experience (which basically means a few tourists and reasonable prices).
The official address of Jimmy’s Corner is at 140 W 44th Street, directly across from the Hudson Theatre.
Other Things to Do in NYC
Even though it is full of things to do, Times Square is only a tiny area of NYC! Explore our other guides to learn all about the things you can do in NYC.