Top Things to Do in Times Square

The Center of the NYC Universe Is a Tourist Mecca

Times Square is one of New York City's most popular tourist attractions, but once you get there, what is there to do? Just walking through the area is pretty impressive, and fortunately, in the past several years New York City has reduced the amount of vehicle traffic through Times Square, making it a much more pleasant area to hang around and people watch.

 

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    Broadway theater billboards, New York
    ••• Getty Images/Ozgur Donmaz

    Times Square is home (or very close) to many of New York City's Broadway theaters, so if you want to see a real Broadway production, this is your chance. You can buy tickets in advance or at the individual box offices, but for budget-minded folks, Times Square is also where the original TKTS Booth is located. At the TKTS Booth, you can buy same-day tickets to see a variety of musicals and plays, as well as some dance performances and off-Broadway shows, at a substantial discount, sometimes for half price.

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    KONG: SKULL ISLAND Takes Over Times Square On Its Way to Madame Tussauds New York
    ••• Getty Images Entertainment/Cindy Ord

    No, this isn't about the various folks dressed up as Dora and Elmo milling around Times Square for a photo op; this is about visiting Madame Tussauds New York. Madame Tussaud's has been impressing audiences for more than 200 years with its life-like wax figures, and the New York City location in Times Square has been entertaining visitors since 2000. If you and your traveling companions are bored with typical museums, Madame Tussauds might surprise you. There are lots of interactive exhibits, and it is always introducing new celebrity figures to the lineup. It's also open until 10 p.m. nightly, so if you're looking for a family-friendly activity to do after dinner, this is a great choice.

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    Traffic and people in Times Square
    ••• Getty Images/Mitchell Funk

    Although the energy of this area can be frenetic, visitors should definitely take some time to soak in the vibe and bask in the lights of the glowing billboards and Broadway marquees. There are lots of pedestrian plazas, many with (free) seating, and the TKTS Booth was designed with a huge cascade of steps that are the perfect place to take a load off and watch the world whiz by.

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    Revelers Celebrate New Year's Eve In New York's Times Square
    ••• Getty Images/Christopher Gregory

    If you're tired of watching the countdown to the new year on TV, maybe it's time you watch the New Year's Eve Ball Drop live in Times Square. The first New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square was held in 1904, and three years later the tradition of the NYE Ball Drop began. It's continued annually ever since (except in 1942 and 1943 because of wartime restrictions). More than a million people attend the live event in Times Square every year; it's an American bucket list item.

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    Ripley's Believe It Or Not in Times Square
    ••• Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    With more than 500 exhibits and experiences, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square is an entertaining stop for visitors to the area. It's the largest Ripley's attraction in the U.S. and even has a NYC-related exhibit.

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    Statue of George M. Cohan
    ••• Statue of George M. Cohan, Broadway composer. Getty Images/Amanda Hall/robertharding

    The two most famous buildings in the area are One Times Square (1475 Broadway at Seventh Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd streets) and the former New York Times Building (229 West 43rd St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues), which is now an office building. Check out the statue of George M. Cohan, which honors this important early 20th-century figure from the New York theater scene who was a song-and-dance man, songwriter, director, producer, and comedian in the vaudeville tradition. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942), in which James Cagney played Cohan in a tour-de-force performance, brought his legend to later generations.